The New York Times has published a letter signed by 328 Episcopal clergywomen criticizing comments made last week by the Revd Canon John C. Danforth, Episcopal priest and former US Senator, regarding allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. In a story comparing Anita F. Hill’s accusations of sexual harrassment by Clarence Thomas in 1991 to Christine Blasey Ford’s current allegations of sexual assault by Brett M. Kavanaugh, Danforth is reported to have told the NYT,
“I just feel so terribly sorry for Kavanaugh and what he’s going through,” he said. “Here’s a man who’s had just a marvelous reputation as a human being and now it’s just being trashed. I felt the same way about Clarence.”
He added that the presumption of guilt has only grown since 1991. “With the #MeToo movement, it makes it even harder for him,” Mr. Danforth said. “It was bad enough for Clarence, but this is really going to be difficult.”
The Revd Teresa K.M. Danieley organized the clergywomen’s response, published today, which argues,
No one, not least a priest of the church, should publicly shame, blame or question the motives of women who step forward to report instances of sexual abuse; Mr. Danforth should instead be calling for an in-depth examination of Dr. Blasey’s allegations.
Those in ordained ministry are called to display Christ’s love for both accuser and accused, fulfilling the baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being.
Mr. Danforth’s statements are deeply offensive to all victims of sexual harassment and assault and to their loved ones. Sexual assault is damaging to society, destroying lives and relationships. Mr. Danforth’s statements are antithetical to the Episcopal Church’s expectations of clergy, who are called to offer justice and grace to those in need.
Read the whole letter here.