Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenberg

Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:59 pm

Conyers allegations: Ex-staffer says congressman ‘inappropriately touched’ her
by Rachel Elbaum
December 5, 2017

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New allegations against Rep. John Conyers emerged late Monday with a former staffer accusing the congressman of sexual harassment in an affidavit released by a lawyer.

Conyers, the longest serving member of Congress, announced Tuesday that he was resigning, effective immediately, had faced calls from lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to quit following previous allegations of misconduct.

In the document released by lawyer Lisa Bloom, former staffer Elisa Grubbs said she worked in Conyers’ office from approximately 2001 to 2013. She claimed that the congressman "inappropriately touched" her during her time there. Grubbs also said she witnessed Conyers touching other women in the office.

In one incident, he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while the two were sitting next to each other in the front row of a church.

She said that when it happened she jumped up and exclaimed in front of other staffers, “He just ran his hand up my thigh!”

Another time at Conyers' home, the congressman walked out of his bathroom naked, knowing that she was in the room, she said. She added that she “immediately ran out of the house.”

AFFIDAVIT OF ELISA GRUBBS

I, ELISA GRUBBS, declare as follows:

1. I worked for Representative John Conyers, Jr. ("Rep. Conyers"), in various capacities from approximately 2001 to approximately 2013. Accordingly, the following facts are within my personal knowledge and if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto, under oath.

2. I personally witnessed Rep. Conyers touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of Marion Brown and other female staffers on multiple occasions.

3. Ms. Brown is my cousin and Rep. Conyers often referred to us as the "Big Leg Cousins" and would often say, "Those are some big leg girls," while referring to Ms. Brown and myself.

4. I also experienced my own sexual harassment at the hands of Rep. Conyers as he would sit close to me while stroking and rubbing my thighs. When Rep. Conyers inappropriately touched me like this, my eyes would pop out and I would be stunned in disbelief.

5. One time when I was at Rep. Conyers' home, he came out of the bathroom completely naked while he knew I was in the room. I immediately ran out of the house.

6. Another time, Rep. Conyers slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs while I was sitting next to him in the front row of a church. I was startled and sprung to my feet and exclaimed, "He just ran his hand up my thigh!" Other staffers witnessed this event.

7. In 2005, I attended a fundraising event with Rep. Conyers and Ms. Brown at a hotel in Chicago thrown by the late Dr. Young. While at this event, I overheard Rep. Conyers ask Ms. Brown to come to his hotel room, and that he needed her help with something. I then witnessed Rep. Conyers slip Ms. Brown his hotel room key. After this event, I went to my mother's house. Approximately forty-five (45) minutes later, I picked-up Ms. Brown from the hotel and took her to my mother's house. At the time, Ms. Brown was physically shaken and upset. Ms. Brown's eyes were red as she had been crying. Ms. Brown then proceeded to tell me and my mother that, "That S.O.B. just wanted me to have sex with him!"

8. Witnessing Rep. Conyers rub women's thighs and buttocks and make comments about women's physical attributes was a regular part of life while working in the Office of Rep. Conyers.

9. Rep. Conyers regularly undressed in front of female office staff. At times, Rep. Conyers would call one of the female staffers to his office, only to then come out of his private bathroom in his underwear.

10. At one point, I complained to Cynthia Martin, who was the then Chief of Staff in the Detroit office and Perry Apelbaum, who was the then Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the House Committee on the Judiciary regarding Rep. Conyers' inappropriate behavior. Despite my complaints, no action was taken and Rep. Conyers' inappropriate conduct continued.

I declare, under the penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of Michigan, the District of Columbia, federal law and any other applicable law that the above is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

Executed this 03 day of December 2017, in Detroit, Michigan.

Signed: Elisa Grubbs


Lisa Bloom

@LisaBloom
Congressman Conyers: women who worked for you deserved better.
This is the first of several affidavits I will be releasing describing allegations that you sexually harassed staffers and covered up complaints.
My client Marion Brown asks only for an acknowledgement and apology.
7:46 PM - Dec 4, 2017


Grubbs said she saw Conyers stroking the legs and buttocks of other staffers on multiple occasions.

“Witnessing Rep. Conyers rub women’s thighs and buttocks and make comments about women’s physical attributes was a regular part of life while working in the Office of Rep. Conyers,” Grubbs said in the affidavit.

His lawyer, Arnold Reed, called the affidavit “nothing more than tomfoolery” in a tweet on Monday night.

Arnold E. Reed
@ArnoldReedEsq
With regard to the latest #affidavit just released, this is nothing more than tomfoolery coming from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein's lawyer and unworthy of further comment.
8:51 PM - Dec 4, 2017


On Friday, Reed posted on Twitter statements made by other staffers saying that they had never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by Conyers toward Brown.

“She never expressed to me or to anyone to my knowledge that she was harassed in any fashion,” read a statement by former congressional aide Shawn Campbell.

Security guard James Marbury said that he witnessed Conyers and Brown together on numerous occasions and “she never appeared to be uncomfortable around Congressman Conyers, and in fact, appeared to have a good professional working-relationship with Congressman Conyers.”

Bloom has previously represented women making accusations of sexual harassment. For a short time she represented movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, but resigned soon after a New York Times story with multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him was published.

Bloom told Buzzfeed that her decision to represent him was “a colossal mistake.”

Grubbs said she would be prepared to testify to the allegations under oath. She is the cousin of Marion Brown, who described on TODAY last Thursday how Conyers propositioned her for sex.

Brown said that in one incident he undressed down to his underwear and asked her to satisfy him sexually in a Chicago hotel room in 2005.

Brown first came forward anonymously in a Buzzfeed story on Nov. 20, saying she was fired in 2014 for refusing his sexual advances.

Brown reached a settlement with Conyers in 2015 in which she signed a non-disclosure agreement, but she said she then decided to go public regardless.


In her tweets Monday, Bloom said the Grubbs affidavit is the first of several that she plans to release that describe accusations of sexual harassment.

She added that Brown would like only an acknowledgement and apology.

On Thursday, Conyers was hospitalized due to stress, his political consultant Sam Riddle told WDIV-TV.

Conyers, who represents Michigan's 13th Congressional District, has until now rejected calls to resign.

"It is not up to Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi did not elect Mr. Conyers," Reed, said at a press conference Thursday in Detroit. "And she sure as hell won't be the one to tell the congressman to leave."

On Nov. 26, Conyers stepped aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, saying that he looks forward to “vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”

Rachel Elbaum reported from London. Richie Duchon reported from Los Angeles. Alex Moe reported from Washington, D.C.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:49 am

'You'll never work again': women tell how sexual harassment broke their careers
Actors, writers, assistants, comedians and journalists speak out about the toll that sexual assault and harassment in the workplace took on their futures

by Molly Redden
The Guardian
21 November 2017 07.07 EST Last modified on Wednesday 22 November 2017 12.03 EST

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Image
Jane Seymour on the set of Jamaica Inn in 1982. The actor says she was threatened by ‘Hollywood’s most powerful man’ after she rejected his advances. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

As women come forward with accusations of sexual harassment in politics, media, entertainment and other fields, following the flood of allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it is striking how many of their stories share the same ending.

Either the alleged abuse, the victim’s refusal to stay quiet, or both, slams the door on critical job opportunities and puts a serious – sometimes terminal – dent in her career. In some cases the victim never works in her industry again.

We spoke to a number of women who have come forward about the costs that sexual harassment imposed on their futures and careers. As society debates what sort of consequences should befall their alleged abusers, it is clear that these women have already suffered a penalty.

“There are coming to be consequences for those actions, but it’s too little too late,” said one of the women, former DC Comics editor Janelle Asselin. “For the people who were harassed and assaulted, the consequences are something we’ve been living with for years.”

The comic-book editor

“The longer I read comics, the more I feel the possibilities are limitless,” said Asselin, reflecting on her time as an editor at the publishing powerhouse behind Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and big-budget superhero movies such as the current Justice League.

“If you’re at DC, you’re at the pinnacle of comics,” Asselin said. “You feel like you’ve made it into this amazing club where only an elite few get to work. It was a dream come true.”

Asselin rose to be the associate editor of one of DC’s most treasured properties – the Batman comics. From her perch, she shepherded one of DC’s first bisexual characters, Starling, into existence and put the brakes on sexist plot devices.

“There was a storyline in a Robin comic where the writer wanted the female villain to be tricked by chocolate. Because she’s a woman,” Asselin recalled with a laugh. It was her first time objecting to a major storyline, and she won.

Image
At DC, Janelle Asselin rose to become the associate editor of the Batman comics, but later quit after reporting a male editor’s sexual comments. Photograph: Janelle Asselin

But her time with DC would be short-lived. After she and a number of women reported Eddie Berganza, one of the company’s most esteemed editors, to HR for making sexual comments in 2010, Berganza received a promotion.

Asselin quit.

Berganza, who has fired earlier this month following a BuzzFeed report about the allegations against him, has not publicly responded to the accusations and did not return a request for comment from the Guardian, nor did DC.

Earlier this month, Asselin tweeted: “I loved my job at DC until that year that things went south. I never would’ve left if it hadn’t been for DC’s lack of respect for the women who came forward. My career and life could be very different if Eddie Berganza hadn’t been what he was.”

“I underestimated what the psychological impact of reporting him and watching DC promote him anyway would be,” Asselin told the Guardian. By the end, “I hated going to work, because I had a very negative view about the company and their priorities.”

Asselin took a new position with Disney but was later laid off. Working as a comics journalist and starting an independent publishing company gave her some satisfaction, but ultimately, she burned out. Today, Asselin is a claims adjustor for a workers’ compensation insurer.

“My career was forever impacted by this,” she said. “It’s hard to know what would have happened if they had done something … But I feel like a lot of the women who left would have still been there.”

The TV writer

Kater Gordon’s career reached a peak many writers only dream of in fall 2009, when she shared an Emmy as a writer on the second season of Mad Men.

She hasn’t worked in television since.

I eventually walked away instead of fighting back


The reason, she recently told the Information, is that the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, sexually harassed her. The incident robbed her of all her confidence and placed her in a “lose-lose situation”: She felt it could end her career if she challenged him, but she didn’t feel like she could continue to work with him if she didn’t.

Weiner denies he harassed her. After leaving the Mad Men writer’s room, Gordon’s attempts to stay in television were dogged by tabloid rumors that she and Weiner were in a relationship.

“I had the Emmy, but instead of being able to use that as a launch pad for the rest of my career, it became an anchor because I felt I had to answer to speculative stories in the press,” she said. “I eventually walked away instead of fighting back.”

Image
Kater Gordon after the 2009 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. ‘We are all paying a cost for harassment.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

In an interview with the Guardian, Gordon – who is setting up a nonprofit to help victims of sexual harassment – said, “We are all paying a cost for harassment.”

“By removing talented, capable, willing people from the workforce, we are hindering our ability to capitalize on the full potential of our entire society. When large portions of the population feel unsafe or completely remove themselves or they’re involuntarily removed from the workforce, we’re limiting our potential. On a large scale.”

The costume designer

In 2010, Emma Bowers was one of the thousands of Hollywood strivers who perform creative work, for little to no pay, with the hope of gaining a toehold in the industry.

It made her highly exploitable, she said. Bowers’ trade was costume design. When she took on unpaid work for Andy Signore, the creator of YouTube series Honest Trailers, she claims, he sexually harassed her and responded viciously when she talked about his conduct to co-workers. Signore has not made a public statement about the allegations, and did not respond to request from the Guardian for comment.

“It killed my desire to work in the industry,” Bowers told the Guardian. “I had kind of this meltdown. I said, ‘I’m done with this industry, I don’t want to be in this world any more.’ And after that, I wasn’t.”

Today, she works in animal rescue, sometimes running educational workshops for kids. “The animals and the children are nicer to me than anybody in the film industry ever was,” she laughed.

The reporter

Michael Oreskes spent decades at the top of his field, first as the Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, then as the editorial director of NPR.

At least one reporter who accused him of sexual harassment said Oreskes stripped her of the confidence to reach the same heights.

The worst part wasn’t the weird offers, but the fact that he utterly destroyed my ambition
“When I first went to see him, it was after screwing up my nerve to try to be bold and maneuver myself into a better job, and after what happened with him, I never really tried that again,” she told the Washington Post.

Oreskes has not publicly commented on the claims of harassment, but in an internal memo obtained by CNN, he wrote, “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

The reporter, who asked to remain anonymous so as not to damage her employment prospects, added: “The worst part of my whole encounter with Oreskes wasn’t the weird offers of room service lunch or the tongue kiss but the fact that he utterly destroyed my ambition.”

The actors

Sophie Dix felt like she was on the verge of success. Then she met Harvey Weinstein.

Now a screenplay writer, Dix in the 1990s was an actor with a growing repertoire, scoring roles opposite Donald Pleasence and Colin Firth. Weinstein, she claims, interrupted her rise after he sexually assaulted her in a hotel room one night and she refused to keep his attack to herself.

“I was met with a wall of silence,” she told the Guardian. “People who were involved in the film were great, my friends and my family were amazing and very compassionate, but people in the industry didn’t want to know about it, they didn’t want to hear.”

Dix doesn’t know exactly what happened behind the scenes, but she never landed another movie role again.

Part of her was all right with that. “I decided if this what being an actress is like, I don’t want it,” she said. She threw herself into her screenwriting career. But the assault, she said, was “the single most damaging thing that’s happened in my life” and derailed her acting ambitions.

Weinstein has repeatedly denied accusations of non-consensual contact, although he has appeared to acknowledge having sexually harassed some workers.

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Sophie Dix: ‘I was met with a wall of silence.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

“I had done some TV and stuff before, that but this was my big movie break,” Dix recalled. “I still had a decent acting career, but it was all in TV. I never really had a film career. I think my film career was massively cut short.

“I’ve had friends call after the New York Times pieces came out, some who are now really famous, who knew about it at the time, and they say: ‘This was the moment it changed for you.’”

Others believe Weinstein himself played an active role in icing them out of the industry.

Annabella Sciorra, who has accused Weinstein of violently raping her, believes he wielded his power to cloud her reputation.

“From 1992, I didn’t work again until 1995,” she told the New Yorker. “I just kept getting this pushback of ‘We heard you were difficult; we heard this or that.’ I think that that was the Harvey machine.”

Her friend, the actor Rosie Perez, recalled urging her to go to the police. “She said, ‘I can’t go to the police. He’s destroying my career.’ ”

Image
Annabella Sciorra in New York. Photograph: Charles Sykes/AP

The Hollywood producer was a storied bully and media manipulator.

Darryl Hannah claims there were “instant repercussions” for resisting his advances. The Miramax plane left without her at an international premiere of Kill Bill 2, and her flights, stylists and accommodations were cancelled for another.

“I thought that was the repercussion, you know, the backlash,” Hannah said.

“This fear of losing your career is not losing your ticket to a borrowed dress and earrings someone paid you to wear,” said the actor Ellen Barkin. “It’s losing your ability to support yourself, to support your family, and this is fucking real whether you are the biggest movie star or the lowest-pay-grade assistant.”

Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Jane Seymour was a young actor when she rejected the propositions of “the most powerful man in Hollywood at that time”.

Seymour said the man, who she did not name, threatened to blacklist her if she ever repeated the details of their encounter.

“You’ll never work ever again anywhere on the planet,” Seymour said he told her. She called the incident “devastating” and said it caused her to drop out of acting for at least a year, and almost permanently.

The production company assistant

Weinstein Company assistants also say they came in for abuse that forced them to leave the industry.

Emily Nestor was a law school graduate and business school student when she considered turning a temporary position at the Weinstein Company into a career in movies.

Then Weinstein began to relentlessly proposition her, she says.

“I was definitely traumatized for a while, in terms of feeling so harassed and frightened,” Nestor said. “It made me feel incredibly discouraged that this could be something that happens on a regular basis. I actually decided not to go into entertainment because of this incident.”

Image
Emily Nestor (right) at a film party in New York. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The comedians

Louis CK was one of the most revered names in comedy, and so was his agent.

That proved to be a career obstacle for comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, who claim that the comedian exposed himself to them and then grew angry when they told friends in the comedy world about his behavior.

Whenever they saw Louis CK’s agent, Dave Becky, attached to a project – and there were many times – they didn’t even bother to put themselves in the running.

“We know immediately that we can never even submit our material,” Wolov told the Times.

Louis CK has said the sexual allegations against him are true. “Know I never threatened anyone,” Becky has said.

Abby Schachner said she was deeply discouraged when she called Louis CK to invite him to a show and he masturbated while on the phone. She said the incident was one of the factors that pushed her out of comedy. Today, she illustrates children’s books.

“I can’t even make a phone call, how am I going to pursue this as a career?” Schachner thought to herself at the time, she told the Guardian. “It knocks your confidence away … If you honestly feel no confidence, it’s better to hide.”
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:34 pm

Woman shares new evidence of relationship with Roy Moore when she was 17
by Stephanie McCrummen
December 4, 2017

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Debbie Wesson Gibson was in her attic hauling out boxes of Christmas decorations last week when she noticed a storage bin she said she had forgotten about. Inside was a scrapbook from her senior year of high school, and taped to a page titled “Those Who Inspire” was a graduation card.

“Happy graduation Debbie,” it read in slanted cursive handwriting. “I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you’ll be a success in anything you do. Roy.”

The inscription, Gibson said, was written by Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican nominee for U.S. Senate who in recent days has repeatedly denied the accounts of five women who told The Washington Post that he pursued them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. Since those allegations were published last month, four more women have come forward to allege that Moore made unwanted sexual advances. The accounts in The Post included those of Leigh Corfman, who said she was 14 when Moore touched her sexually, and Gibson, who said that she publicly dated Moore when she was 17 and he was 34, a relationship she said she “wore like a badge of honor” until she began reevaluating it in light of the accounts of other women, and now, Moore’s own denials.

Shortly after the allegations first surfaced, Moore said in a radio interview with Sean Hannity that he did not know Corfman but that he remembered Gibson as well as Gloria Thacker Deason, who had told The Post that she dated Moore when she was 18. He called each one “a good girl” and said that he did not remember dating them.

But at two campaign events in recent days, Moore has backtracked.

At a Nov. 27 campaign event in the north Alabama town of Henagar, Moore said: “The allegations are completely false. They are malicious. Specifically, I do not know any of these women.”


At a Nov. 29 rally at a church in the south Alabama town of Theodore, Moore said, “Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

Gibson said that after finding the scrapbook, she was not sure whether to make it public given the threats she received after publication of the original story. Then she heard what Moore said last week, she said, and contacted The Post.

“He called me a liar,” said Gibson, who says she not only openly dated Moore when she was 17 but later joined him in passing out fliers during his campaign for circuit court judge in 1982 and exchanged Christmas cards with him over the years. “Roy Moore made an egregious mistake to attack that one thing — my integrity.”


Image
A photo of Debbie Wesson Gibson when she was a high school senior, as seen in a scrapbook she kept during her senior year at Etowah High School. (Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)

The Moore campaign did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.

Two of the other women named in The Post article have also pushed back in recent days against Moore.

In an open letter to Moore published on the Alabama news site Al.com after Moore’s Nov. 27 speech, Corfman wrote that “I am done being silent.”

“You sent out your spokesman to call me a liar. Day after day. Finally, last night, you did the dirty work yourself . . .” she wrote. “What you did to me when I was 14-years old should be revolting to every person of good morals. But now you are attacking my honesty and integrity. Where does your immorality end?”


In a statement to The Post after Moore’s Nov. 29 speech, Paula Cobia, an attorney for Deason, recounted Deason’s vivid memories of dating Moore, including specific restaurants she says they frequented and the velvet-collared dress Deason says she wore when she says Moore took her to a social function at a Ramada Inn.

“No matter what lies Roy Moore may choose to tell now,” Cobia said, “the truth was the first thing out of his mouth when it came to remembering Gloria.”

Gibson, 54, now lives in Delray Beach, Fla., is a registered Republican and is the founder of a company that provides sign language interpretation. Though she said the bulk of her work is in educational, medical and legal settings, her clients have included Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Republicans such as the mayor of Miami. She said that despite requests from dozens of media outlets, she had “very carefully said absolutely nothing” after her account was first published in The Post, because of a barrage of threatening hate mail she received, prompting her to notify her local police department. She and the other women have been accused by Moore’s surrogates of lying, or being paid to spread false stories, or being part of a larger political conspiracy to defeat Moore.

Image
Debbie Wesson Gibson shows what she says is a graduation card from Roy Moore. She says he handed it to her during her high school graduation ceremony in 1981. Underneath is Gibson’s own note about what Moore meant to her at the time. (Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)

Then she found the scrapbook and the graduation card with the slanted, cursive handwriting, which she said immediately reminded her of another woman, Beverly Young Nelson, who had come forward after the Post article was published. In an emotional news conference with the attorney Gloria Allred, Nelson accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, and produced what she said was her high school yearbook with an inscription to her from Moore.

“I just couldn’t imagine him doing something like that,” Gibson said. “And then when I saw the interview from Beverly, and I saw his handwriting in her yearbook, my heart just sank. And when I saw what I knew to be Roy Moore’s handwriting, I just began to sob openly.”


Image
Beverly Young Nelson shows her high school yearbook, and an inscription she says was written by Roy Moore, at a news conference on Nov. 13. (Richard Drew/AP)

Mark Songer, a former FBI forensic examiner now with the firm Robson Forensic, examined an image of the graduation card at The Post’s request and said that it “appears to be naturally prepared.” Songer also compared an image of the yearbook inscription to the image of the graduation card and said that “the style of writing, as well as certain letter features, appear to be similar.” He stressed the need for a full and comprehensive handwriting examination to arrive at a final conclusion.

Gibson said she remembers Moore handing the card to her at the Etowah High School graduation ceremony in Attalla, Ala., where Gibson grew up about 10 miles from Moore’s home. She remembers reading the inscription and writing below it: “Roy Moore inspires me because he is such a successful man himself. Also, he is about the only person I know of who seriously believes in me. I appreciate that. He’s got to be one of the nicest people I know.”

As she flipped through the scrapbook last week, Gibson said, she realized it contained other indications of her relationship with Moore, which she says began in March 1981, after he came to speak to her high school civics class.

On a page titled “commencement,” under “My own guests,” she had written “Roy S. Moore,” just above “mom” and “dad.”

On a page titled “remembrances,” she had listed her graduation gifts line by line, including “$10, card” from “Roy S. Moore,” and a check mark indicating she had sent a thank-you card.

Image
Debbie Wesson Gibson points to an entry in her high school scrapbook, where she noted what she says was her first date with Roy Moore. (Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)

On a page titled “the best times,” she had written: “Wednesday night, 3-4-81. Roy S. Moore and I went out for the first time. We went out to eat at Catfish Cabin in Albertville. I had a great time.” She had underlined “great” twice.

The scrapbook also contained a photo of Gibson as a high school senior, and when she saw it, she said, she thought to herself, “That’s the age I was when I dated Roy Moore, because my braces were off.”

As Gibson previously told The Post, she said that she and Moore dated for a couple of months. She said he kissed her by the swimming pool concession stand at a local country club, that he played his guitar and read his own poetry to her, and that things ended when she went off to college in another part of Alabama, though they still kept in touch.

She said she helped Moore when he was campaigning for circuit court judge in 1982, and remembers tucking fliers under windshield wipers at the Kmart parking lot.

She said that when she became engaged, Moore insisted on meeting her fiance to make sure he was “good enough for me.” She said that when Moore was first appointed as a circuit court judge in 1992, she sent him a gavel engraved with his name and a congratulatory note and that her family and his exchanged Christmas cards some years.

She said that she held Moore “in high esteem,” despite political differences with him, until she began hearing stories from other women who alleged that Moore pursued them as teenagers. She said that at first she did not want to believe the women.

“It takes what I thought was a very lovely part of my past, and it colors it, and it changes it irrevocably,” she said. “It changes it permanently.”

What made her decision to share the documents easier, she said, was watching and re-watching a video she has on her cellphone of Moore speaking last week and deciding that supporting the women who have come forward was more important than staying silent.

“At 34 minutes and 56 seconds into the video, he says, unequivocally, I did not know any of them,” Gibson said. “In that moment, it changed my perspective. I knew he was a liar.”
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:49 pm

Kentucky Lawmaker Killed Himself After Sexual Assault Allegations
by Darran Simon and Faith Karimi
CNN
Updated 2:02 PM ET, Thu December 14, 2017

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(CNN) A Kentucky lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 2013 killed himself Wednesday, officials say, a day after he denied the allegations.

Republican state Rep. Dan Johnson was found dead of a single gunshot wound near Mount Washington, Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said.

Johnson drove onto a bridge in a rural area southeast of Louisville, parked and shot himself in front of his car, Sheriff Donnie Tinnell told CNN affiliate WDRB.

Billings ruled Johnson's death a suicide on Thursday after an autopsy, Deputy Coroner Clayton Brunson said.

Shortly before his death, Johnson posted a rambling message on social media, denying the sexual assault allegations and urging his family to stay strong for his wife.

Relatives became concerned after seeing the post and reached out to law enforcement, who pinged Johnson's phone and later discovered his body, according to Billings.

Billings said he was called to the scene around 7:30 p.m. Authorities discovered Johnson's body in front of his truck and a 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun nearby, he said.

CNN has reached out to the Bullitt County Sheriff's Office and the Kentucky governor's office but has not heard back.

Investigation reopened

Just 24 hours before his death, Johnson denied sexual assault allegations detailed in a lengthy investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

His accuser said the alleged sexual assault took place in the early hours of New Year's Day in 2013 when she was 17, according to the center's explosive investigative report published Monday. The accuser, identified as Maranda Richmond, is now 21.

She said she was staying in a living area of Louisville's Heart of Fire Church, where Johnson was pastor, when he drunkenly kissed and fondled her underneath her clothes, according to the investigative report.

Richmond reported the incident to authorities in April 2013, and the Louisville Metro Police Department opened an investigation but closed it without charging Johnson, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.


The center got its hands on police documents about the accusations and interviewed Richmond, leading to its story on how Johnson allegedly forced himself on her when she was a teenager.

Johnson denied the allegations, a day after the center published its report, saying Richmond was motivated by his political opponents.

"This allegation concerning this young girl absolutely has no merit," he said. "As a matter of fact, some of this I heard yesterday for the first time as I read the story."

The same day Johnson held a news conference, Louisville detectives reopened the investigation, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Social media post

Johnson posted a message on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, saying the accusations "are false" and "only God knows the truth." The post appears to have been deleted.

"GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand," his post read.

"I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world ... 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer."


Johnson had claimed he helped give the last rites to victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Officials mourn Johnson

The report of the alleged sexual assault was not the first time Johnson made national headlines.

He won the 49th District State House race in Kentucky last year despite his Facebook posts that compared then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to monkeys. At the time, he shunned calls for him to drop out of the race -- and ultimately won the election.

Governor Matt Bevin

@GovMattBevin
Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson...My heart breaks for his family tonight...These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America...May God indeed shed His grace on us all...We sure need it...
6:36 PM - Dec 13, 2017


Fellow lawmakers mourned his death Wednesday night.

"Saddened to hear of tonight's death of KY Representative Dan Johnson," Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted Wednesday night.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul tweeted he's praying for Johnson's loved ones.

Senator Rand Paul

@RandPaul
Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson. I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight. Kelley and I pray for his loved ones.
7:20 PM - Dec 13, 2017


"Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson," he said Wednesday. "I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight."

Michael Skoler, president of Louisville Public Media -- which runs the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting -- expressed sadness at his death and said it grieves for his loved ones.

"All of us at Louisville Public Media are deeply sad to hear that State Representative Dan Johnson has died, apparently of suicide. We grieve for his family, friends, church community and constituents.

Our Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting released a report on Johnson this week. Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions.

As part of our process, we reached out to Representative Johnson numerous times over the course of a seven-month investigation. He declined requests to talk about our findings."

-- Michael Skoler, President of Louisville Public Media


Kentucky CIR
@KentuckyCIR
A statement from Michael Skoler, President of Louisville Public Media.
7:29 PM - Dec 13, 2017


"Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions," he said in a statement. "As part of our process, we reached out to Representative Johnson numerous times over the course of a seven-month investigation. He declined requests to talk about our findings."

CNN's Chris Boyette, Dave Alsup and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:11 pm

Part 1 of 2

The Pope's Long Con: A Kentucky preacher-turned-politician's web of lies
by R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan
Dec. 11, 2017

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EDITOR’S NOTE: On Dec. 13, two days after the release of this investigation, Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide in Bullitt County. Read our organization's response to Johnson's death. Our coverage is here.

ONE: Welcome To Pope's House

On a Saturday afternoon at the fellowship hall, the stereo blares Southern rock anthems for a flock of Harley riders in leather vests.

Banners on the wall honor veterans, and flags commemorate the Confederacy. A disco ball hovers over a clawfoot tub full of canned beers — two bucks buys you a token and a token gets you a drink from Charlie the bartender.


In one corner of the room, the "Pope" strides across a stage, his voice full of fervor as he auctions off items to the highest bidder. A motorcyclist died recently in a crash and there is money to be raised for the man’s family.

At the fellowship hall, called "Pope’s House," next to the Heart of Fire Church in southeast Louisville, the motto is “when you are here, you are family.”

And today, Danny Ray Johnson, 57, the self-proclaimed pope, bishop and minister to outcasts, really wants you to bid on this gift card to a local tattoo shop.

“I need somebody right now that’ll give me $50 on a $150 tattoo,” he says. “Who will give me $50?”

The Pope, as everyone knows him, commands this side of the room, his voice tinged with the Louisiana drawl of his youth. His biceps are decorated in ink, his sideburns white, his golden pompadour thinning.

Long ago, Johnson fashioned an identity as a modern-day American patriot. Pro-gun, pro-God, pro-life. He talked in 2013 about making America great again. He lamented the lack of God in everyone’s lives. He wept over the country’s future.

But behind this persona — cultivated, built up and fine-tuned over decades — is a web of lies and deception. A mysterious fire. Attempted arson and false testimony. Alleged molestation in his church.

In Johnson's wake lies a trail of police records and court files, shattered lives and a flagrant disregard for truth.


This seven-month investigation is based on more than 100 interviews and several thousand pages of public documents. It also included numerous attempts to interview Johnson, who refused all requests.

Over and over, there were warning signs for government officials, law enforcement, political leaders and others. Yet, virtually nothing was done. For years, Johnson broke laws. Now, he helps make them.

In his latest feat, Johnson catapulted himself into the Kentucky Capitol in 2016 as representative for the 49th House District.

***

To hear him tell it, Johnson has been on stage nearly his whole life. Like Forrest Gump, he just so happens to be in the front row, playing a pivotal role in America’s biggest moments. Time after time. Decade after decade.

He claims he served as White House chaplain to three presidents. A United Nations ambassador. He says he set up the morgue after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and was the pastor who gave last rites for all of those pulled from the towers.

He’s healed the sick and raised the dead. He helped quell the riots in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of three police officers in connection with the beating of Rodney King. He loves people of all races and religions, and he had a seat at the table for international peace talks.


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"Pope's House" fellowship hall. (R.G. Dunlop)

All this despite his history of hate speech, racist Facebook posts and general derision for African-Americans and Muslims. All this, despite his own secrets.

And now, as he paces across the stage at the Pope’s House, Johnson shines, mic in hand, full of passion.

Half of the crowd is focused on Johnson; the other half is interested in beer and the buffet. Johnson’s wife, Rebecca, scans the scene. She spots us.

The church does great work, she says. The Pope is a great man. Why would journalists be skeptical and ask questions?

She points us to the door.

“We know what you’re going to do,” she says. “And you’re going to have blood on your hands. I’m telling you now, it’s the word of the Lord.”

***

On election night 2016, Johnson reveled in his victory, grinning beneath the glow of a neon beer sign at a favorite local haunt near the church.

Inside T.K.’s Pub, dozens of his friends and supporters crowded up to the bar. This was a big night for Republicans. And it was a huge night, the capstone of a wild political season, for the Pope of Bullitt County.

What led Johnson to dive into politics is anyone’s guess. But in recent years, he had begun to assert himself in right-wing and libertarian circles. He talked freedom and liberty with the same fervor he preached about heaven and hell.

In 2014, he cradled an AK-47 — his “favorite anti-mean government gun” — in an interview with Guns.com.

“Jesus taught us to be armed,” said Johnson. “The real reason for our Second Amendment rights is that we have a gun to keep a mean-spirited government off of us. If they go crazy, we gotta have something to be crazier with.”


He was talking about making America great again before presidential candidate Donald Trump made the phrase his own.

“America is great and it needs to be restored to its greatness,” Johnson said during a 2013 Washington, D.C., rally organized by the arch-conservative, anti-Muslim group Freedom Watch.

At the rally, he was introduced as “Bishop” Dan Johnson and gave the invocation wearing a black suit and a white priest’s collar.

Johnson touted the Tea Party, recounted his heroic role in 9/11 and urged elected officials to “get on their knees, not to Allah, but to God Almighty."

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Johnson at a 9/11 memorial event in Bullitt County on Sept. 10, 2017. (Jacob Ryan)

Fast forward to July 2016. Jennifer Stepp had won the May Republican primary for Kentucky’s 49th District seat. But a former county jailer filed a lawsuit questioning her candidacy papers, and a judge declared Stepp ineligible.

Then, the Bullitt County GOP’s executive committee met behind closed doors, pored over four candidates and took a secret ballot. The winner: Danny Ray Johnson, the preacher from the nondenominational Heart of Fire Church.

As a newly minted candidate, Johnson’s platform didn’t skew far from his years-old rhetoric supporting guns, liberty and pro-life causes.

“Pray To Make America Great Again” was the edict on his church’s billboard for Freedom Fest, a political rally held in August 2016 at Heart of Fire.

“It’s never been like this before,” Johnson told hundreds of attendees, his voice cracking. Tears welled in his eyes and he held his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. “We are so close to losing this freedom.

“Donald Trump, we need you.”

***

The only person standing between Johnson and public office was 69-year-old Linda Belcher, a retired schoolteacher, principal and lifelong county resident.

She campaigned on her dedication to public service. Her husband, Larry, had held the 49th District seat for six years before he died in a 2008 car accident. Belcher succeeded him and served three terms. She was the incumbent and a formidable opponent, for sure. But, she was a Democrat in a county that, like many in Kentucky, was becoming increasingly Republican.

Local politics can be combative and personal. Johnson liked to lob verbal bombs at Belcher via Facebook. He skipped the only public debate and canvassing came courtesy of a supporter who drove around a big pickup truck with a Johnson logo.

One Facebook campaign video, shot on a cell phone, opens with Johnson in a military fatigue-style shirt. He stands in front of a flag-draped, military-grade cannon, a piece of artillery the size of a pickup truck.

“Emergency. This is an emergency,” he says, staring into the camera. “We’ve had death threats, we have had bomb threats on our church, bomb threats at our house, our address has been given out, this is happening by lyin’ Linda.”


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Danny Ray Johnson (Facebook)

That would be Linda Belcher.

Johnson continues for the camera. He gives out Belcher’s home address. He claims that “the Islam’crat Barack Obama, criminal Clinton and lyin’ Linda have sent Chicago thugs” after him. His children and grandchild have been threatened, he says.

Just recently, Johnson claims in the video, his truck was roadblocked and ambushed, and his friend’s life threatened.


In the cadence of a seasoned preacher, Johnson says Belcher personally “killed” 80,000 babies — a warped reference to her stance on abortion. He says he heard Belcher’s shoes were stained red due to “all the blood of all those babies.”

He calls his critics “pygmies” and “Smurfs.” Toward the end of his five-minute screed, Johnson makes the stakes clear: This is a race that pits Donald Trump and Danny Ray Johnson against “criminal Hillary Clinton and lyin’ Linda Lou.”

His closing plea: “Let’s show ‘em that the good ol’ boys matter.”


***

Founded in 1796, Bullitt County got its name from Alexander Scott Bullitt, a leader in Kentucky’s early political formation. It sits on the far western end of the Bluegrass region and has a population of about 75,000, nearly 97 percent of whom are white.

The percentage of adults with a college degree is less than half the national average. A population boom began in the mid-1970s, after school desegregation and busing came to neighboring Jefferson County, home to Louisville.

Today, it’s not uncommon to see Confederate flags hanging from poles, porches and barns around Bullitt.

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Belcher’s campaign couldn’t have been more different from that of her opponent. Her Facebook page featured no Confederate flags, no angry videos and no guns. Her listed interests included gardening, reading, civic activities, crafts and flower arranging.

She heard and saw Johnson’s slanderous boasts but didn’t want to take the bait. She doesn’t know any Chicago thugs, she said. She’s a Christian. “The last thing I would think of would be harming a church.”

Belcher wanted to focus on her own record.

“I’m more of a positive person,” she said. “People who want to believe garbage like that, I don’t know how you convince them otherwise.”

With Johnson’s social media campaign in full gear, some of his Facebook posts made news.

Media reports highlighted racist posts he shared. One image depicted Barack and Michelle Obama as cartoonish apes. Another showed a young chimpanzee with a caption, “Obama’s baby picture.” A third post showed former President Ronald Reagan feeding a small chimp a bottle. It was titled, “Reagan babysits a young Obama.”

Johnson dismissed the criticism. He said Facebook was “entertaining.” He claimed that the posts were simply satire and fair game.


Even his own party disagreed, urging him to withdraw from the race. The state’s GOP chair, Mac Brown, called the posts “outrageous” and the “rankest sort of prejudice.”

Johnson ignored all critics and continued to post and share exclusionary, nationalist, anti-Islam, racist posts. This country was in trouble, Johnson claimed, and needed help. He was the one to provide it.

On election night, Trump swamped Clinton in Bullitt County, winning nearly three-quarters of the vote. In the 49th District race, Johnson beat Belcher by 156 votes.

So, Johnson had reason to smile that night. He was on his way to the statehouse. He had weathered the Facebook controversy, in part because the most controversial posts were removed and his profile made private.

But other aspects of his past cannot be so readily erased.

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TWO: From Bastrop To Bullitt: A Strange, Sensational Journey

Kentucky’s self-proclaimed Pope paces in front of the Heart of Fire altar on a Sunday in early July. He’s wearing a red, white and blue shirt, not robes and a collar.

His small congregation knows well that Danny Ray Johnson’s free-spirited sermons can go in many directions.

One minute he quotes from the Bible. The next, he shares tales of his valor or an anecdote about sex with his wife on their honeymoon. Another time, it’s a story about driving trucks through mud holes, or a childhood science fair, or hobnobbing with Kentucky’s political elite, including Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

This unorthodox preacher is, after all, now a state lawmaker.

To hear the Pope preach it, his life is a series of heroic feats, miracles and inspiring acts. He pops up at major moments in history. Always there. Right in the mix. Just like Forrest Gump.

His fabricated or questionable stories — told in countless sermons and invocations, listed in official biographies and in campaign videos — are too long to list. Here are some of them.

Early in 1991, while working with the Living Waters Church in Pasadena, California, Johnson traveled on a mission trip to South America. There, he claims to have performed a series of miracles. By his own account, he healed the sick and raised the dead.

On the church's website, Johnson promotes a June 1991 letter written by Dr. David Fischer, pastor of the Living Waters Church.

Fischer’s letter asserts that in Venezuela in March 1991, Johnson placed his fingers in the ears of a man who had been deaf since birth. Johnson healed the man instantly, just one of several healings on that mission trip.

Later, Johnson approached a dead woman in front of a crowd of about 7,000 in Colombia. Her skin “looked like rubber with a darkness under it,” the letter claims. “She was slumped over in a chair.”

Johnson lifted her out of the chair, according to Fischer's letter. He spoke to death and commanded it to leave.

“Then Danny spoke life to her and she took a breath ... and another breath. She was raised from the dead!”


Twenty-six years later, Fischer said he doesn’t remember details of his letter. By email, he admitted that he didn’t witness these supposed miracles. Rather, he “depended on later reports from pastors and other people in our large meetings for what may have occurred.”

Who actually witnessed the miraculous healing powers of Kentucky’s pope, bishop and future state representative?

Fischer couldn’t say.

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Johnson's nameplate in the state Capitol. (Ryland Barton)

No lie is too big or too small for Johnson. In a campaign video posted the day before the November 2016 election, he implores, “I want to give you a few facts.”

He then says he has four children. In reality, he has five children, including one from his first marriage.

Then he boasts that there was a Ted Nugent rally at Bowman Field Airport and that the conservative rock-and-roller had endorsed him. Spokeswomen for Nugent and the airport said they had no record of such an event.

Other times, Johnson has claimed to have a Ph.D. and to be a “doctor of theology.” And he has said, under oath, that he holds a “doctorate of divinity” from a Bible school in Des Moines, Iowa. A spokeswoman for Kingsway University and Theological Seminary in Des Moines said Johnson studied there but never earned a degree.


Now, for some of his broader exaggerations.

Johnson contends that he was in Los Angeles amid the riots and fires that followed a jury’s acquittal in 1992 of four police officers who had beaten motorist Rodney King. Johnson claims he helped set up “safe zones” in the maelstrom.

The Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray, then of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, actually was at the heart of the unrest and could see the fires from his church. What Murray didn’t see was a tall, golden-haired preacher from Kentucky. He also doesn’t recall any “safe zones.” We couldn't find any mention of Johnson in the media coverage of the Rodney King riots, and no references to "safe zones."

Around the time of the riots, Johnson also claims he assumed what would be one of the most influential religious positions in the world.

“I served as chaplain to the White House. Chaplain to the White House,” under presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Johnson asserted in a campaign video.

Not true.

Gary Scott Smith, a retired professor and the author of two books on religious faith and the presidency, scoffed at that claim. There is no such thing as an office of White House chaplain, Smith said. “That would definitely be incorrect.”


Representatives of the three former presidents’ libraries could find no connection between Johnson and the White House.

In campaign videos and speeches, Johnson talks about serving as an ambassador to the United Nations. A UN researcher couldn’t find any evidence of it.

There are UN Messengers of Peace, selected by the UN secretary-general. They include people like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Princess Haya of Jordan, actor George Clooney, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali.

Records show no sign of the Pope from Kentucky. No Bishop from Bullitt County. No Danny Ray Johnson.

***

Johnson bowed his head recently at a memorial service remembering 9/11, one of the worst days in this country’s modern history. He says it was one of his worst days too — but regularly boasts about his heroic acts that day.

Time and again, he’s told this story with himself in the lead role.

Looking out a hotel window, he watched the second plane crash into the World Trade Center. He raced to Ground Zero. He pulled a body from the outstretched arms of first responders.

He set up a morgue right there, right near the rubble. And for two weeks — two heinous weeks — the Pope gave last rites for “all of those” pulled from the towers.


But Storm Swain, a Philadelphia theology professor who wrote a book about chaplains at Ground Zero, has never heard of Johnson. She said it’s highly unlikely that any civilian, let alone an out-of-town clergyman, would have been asked to — or would have been able to — set up a morgue in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

And a spokeswoman for New York City’s medical examiner’s office said she checked with several colleagues who were at the scene. No one remembers Danny Ray Johnson.

Johnson has photos, which he shares all the time, and which appear to show that he was in New York around the time of 9/11. They include shots of him with luminaries such as then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I live 9/11 every day of my life,” he said at the 2013 Freedom Watch rally in Washington.

In fact, 9/11 is part of his everyday life.

Records show Johnson collects workers' compensation from the state of New York. But there’s no credible evidence of Johnson ever living or working in New York for any length of time. So, his workers' comp benefits are almost certainly tied to 9/11.

His financial disclosure forms, filed in Kentucky in connection with his political campaign and his election, list the public benefit as his only source of gross income in 2015 and 2016.

According to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, 9/11 workers and volunteers who performed rescue, recovery and cleanup duties are eligible for benefits if they were injured or became ill as a result of their efforts.

Kentucky disclosure forms don’t say how much workers’ comp Johnson is receiving, and New York’s workers’ compensation files are private. So it’s not clear why he’s getting workers’ compensation, or how much he collects.

***

In a sermon in early July 2017, Johnson preaches with one hand in his pocket. On this Sunday, he’s a little more reserved, almost downbeat.

He’d been thinking a lot this morning, he says. He had heard that a pair of investigative reporters were asking questions about him.

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Johnson's July 9, 2017 sermon (Facebook)

“Amazing, amazing that folks want to know so much about me. Just being raised on the bayou, raised in church, in a little small church… had a lot of miracles and a lot of things that have happened in my life.”

He asks his congregation how many of them have been part of miracles.

“If you’re like me, if you start trying to tell people how you got to where you are today and you begin to try to tell them all the things you’ve been through, I think you’d be like me, just better to leave a lot of it out.

The preacher grins and shakes his head.

“I don’t want to even try to explain it, I don’t want to try to tell you, you’d never believe it if I told you.”

Image

Long before he became the pope, the bishop or the politician, Danny Ray Johnson grew up in Bastrop, Louisiana, in the working class city’s upper economic strata. The town is in the impoverished Mississippi Delta region, in Louisiana’s northeastern corner.

Downtown, shuttered businesses surround the courthouse. Jobs have disappeared over the years and now four of every 10 residents live below the poverty line. Barely one in 10 has a college degree. The city’s population is about 11,000.

If you believe his resume, Johnson would be one of the town’s most famous citizens. But when asked about Bastrop’s biggest names, Mayor Arthur Jones mentions a few professional athletes: Bob “Butterbean” Love, Willie David Parker, Calvin Natt. No reference to Danny Ray Johnson.

Over at Bastrop High School, where Johnson graduated in 1979, a yearbook shows him sporting blond, feathered hair and a straight face. Voted neatest in his class, he was part of the school’s rock band and the history and journalism clubs.

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Johnson's 1979 high school yearbook photo.

Johnson’s parents, Jerry and Charlene, still live in Bastrop and still own the ranch house where Johnson grew up.

“I don’t know what you want to hear. He’s been a good boy all his life, in church,” said Jerry Johnson, a retired manager at the now shuttered local paper mill who, like his son, sports a shock of gold hair, slicked back in a pompadour.

He and his wife are still close to their son — “as close as a phone call,” Jerry Johnson says — and they are surprised to hear reporters asking questions.

What was the young Pope like? How did he get his start preaching? Was he healed by a miracle?

Johnson has said his religious underpinnings go back to childhood and that, at age 7, he was cured of blindness. It was, by his account, a miracle.

But details of this miracle are spotty. There was an incident with a BB gun and a trip to the doctor, his parents said. It might have been his left eye, maybe his right eye. Maybe it was both.


What is clear is that this incident helped propel Johnson on a path towards God and the pulpit.

Not far from Bastrop, at the Swartz First Assembly of God Church, pastor Gerald Lewis mows the grass, cleans the floors and preaches each weekend. He considered Johnson like a son and thought himself an influence in Johnson’s path to preaching.

Lewis, a pastor of 50 years, saw promise in the young man with the golden hair. But one day, without explanation, Johnson vanished. He never returned to the church and Lewis, his mentor, has no idea why. He knows Johnson dreamed of a life beyond Bastrop.

“Danny always wanted to get out and mingle with the people, like a celebrity, he had dreams of doing something big,” Lewis said.

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Johnson's 1985 mugshot.

Danny Johnson spent his 25th birthday, his first in Louisville, at police headquarters.

Just after midnight on Oct. 18, 1985, police stumbled on an abandoned 1982 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in Cox Park, next to the Ohio River. Two people ran away as police pulled up.

The car had been stripped of its tires and rims. It had been doused, inside and out, with gasoline. Someone had intended to set the Cadillac ablaze.

Investigators picked up the pair who ran away. Under questioning, they told police they planned to torch the vehicle. A preacher named Johnson had given them $200 to set the fire and told them they could keep the rims and tires as a bonus. He had moved to the city earlier that year and started working at a church just south of downtown.

The preacher left the car in the church’s parking lot and handed over an extra set of keys. He wanted the deed done that night. He had plans to go out and party with other church ministers. They were celebrating his birthday.

Johnson arrived at police headquarters that morning in a police cruiser, fresh from the party. The detectives pressed him about the car. He said he last saw the Cadillac in the church parking lot. It must have been stolen.

Who stole it? Johnson had no clue. He signed off on a stolen vehicle report.

The detectives were skeptical and asked him to hang around. They had more questions. A short time later, things got serious. Police read Johnson his rights and told him a couple of co-conspirators had confessed.

This time, the preacher told a different story.

He admitted to handing over the keys and paying to get rid of the car. He wanted it destroyed. He wanted to collect insurance money. The young preacher told police he was about to go broke. Johnson owed more than $10,000 on the car, which also needed repairs that would total thousands more.


Money woes had set Johnson back before. He had fathered a child, gotten divorced and filed for bankruptcy in Louisiana just a few years earlier.

Less than two months after his arrest, a grand jury indicted Johnson for complicity to commit arson, a felony, and making a false police report, a misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty and completed a six-month pretrial diversion program. The criminal charges were dismissed in February 1987.

Years later, while under oath in another case, his story about the gas-soaked Cadillac and insurance scheme would change again. And again, he lied. This time, Johnson claimed the car disappeared.

“When the car came up missing, I didn’t know what happened to the car. It was vandalized.”


***

These days, Sharon Stubbins, 63, spends most of her time in a small Southern Indiana apartment watching television with a home health aide.

Her memory is slightly faded. But she’s never forgotten the dashing young preacher with the Louisiana drawl, the newcomer to Louisville with the passion for preaching.

Yes, she remembers. Thirty-two years ago, she agreed to help torch that Cadillac. He paid her to do it. Johnson needed insurance money. It seemed simple. Until it wasn’t.

Stubbins recalls she had a complicated relationship with Johnson. They weren’t a couple — they didn’t date — but they did sleep together.

She says she hasn’t talked to Johnson since they were arrested in 1985, and she has no desire to. She’s seen his rise to political power, watched it on the television news, in fact. And Stubbins, who is black, has heard about his racist Facebook posts.

“He must be stuck on stupid,” she says.

This was the first time investigators linked Danny Ray Johnson to a mysterious arson plot. But it wouldn’t be the last.

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THREE: An Empire Built On Blind Faith

On June 12, 2000, the Heart of Fire Church was ablaze. Flames lit the sky. The building burned to the ground.

Investigators found a rear door of the church unlocked. They discovered a flammable liquid had been poured down a hallway and intentionally set on fire.

Before long, Danny Ray Johnson — the self-proclaimed White House chaplain, United Nations ambassador and healer of the sick — was a suspect.
It’s unclear if local and federal investigators knew that Johnson, the church’s founder, had been indicted 15 years earlier in the planned torching of his Cadillac.

As part of the church fire probe, investigators talked to a man who had driven by around the time of the blaze. He told them he saw a white, late-model Cadillac pulling out from behind the church with no lights on, according to police records.

The man said the driver was a white guy who might have had blond hair. And the Cadillac had sped off down Bardstown Road.

The Pope’s hair is blond, golden even. At the time of the fire, he and his wife Rebecca had two cars, records show. One of them was a white 1995 Cadillac.

With his church in ashes, Johnson denied playing any role in the fire. Instead, he blamed the Ku Klux Klan and claimed that numerous threats had been made against the church.


Image
Heart of Fire Church in Fern Creek (R.G. Dunlop)

At the time it burned down, the Heart of Fire Church was essentially bankrupt, according to the insurance company Brotherhood Mutual, which filed a lawsuit after the blaze. The company claimed that the church owed far more on outstanding loans than it could ever pay, more than the property was worth, more than it would sell for.

The company also said that in light of the alleged threats, it seemed odd that no one kept watch at the church at night, that there was no alarm system in the building, no tracking of who had keys to it and no person responsible for making sure that the building was locked.

Arson investigations frequently find that the owner is “in various stages of financial distress,” Brotherhood Mutual attorney Bernard Leachman asserted in the lawsuit.

Court records also detail dozens of bounced checks and credit card debts leading up to the fire. The checks surfaced in bank accounts tied to the church, Johnson and his wife. In a sworn statement given as part of the lawsuit, Johnson acknowledged financial problems. And additional records filed in the lawsuit raise more questions about Johnson’s financial management.

Jennifer Charles, a former church member and employee, told police that Johnson often bragged about beating the system and about having a good attorney.

Michelle Cook, the Johnsons’ secretary and a church member, told police that there was “ongoing misappropriation of funds” at the church. Cook said Johnson would take insurance checks, cut a better deal with contractors and make a little money for himself.


No one was ever charged in the church fire. The insurance lawsuit was settled.

***

A new house of worship rose from the Heart of Fire’s ashes. The new church remained steadfast in its mission: Jesus without judgment. Fellowship for all.

“It was good stuff. He was getting a lot of people who (normally) wouldn’t go to church,” recalls Cliff Richmond, a former church member.



A 2016 Guns.com video shows men and women of the Heart of Fire Church clustered at the altar with a cross looming above them. Seven of them sit in the front row, staring straight at the camera. Another nine stand behind them. They look ready for a school picture. With a nod, they begin to sing.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
I was blind, but now I see.


Some have handguns over their hearts. One woman is tightly clutching a Bible. Others, assault rifles. There’s a revolver, too. This is the Heart of Fire gun choir.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.


The camera pans to the center, to Johnson, right in the middle of it all. He has on a motorcycle cap, the word “POPE” embroidered on it. His black leather vest carries an American flag patch, a gold cross and a medallion. In his right hand is a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle with a large, curved magazine. The rifle is pointed toward the heavens.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
I was blind, but now I see.


To the Pope’s right stands a tall man in a backward baseball cap, holding a silver handgun. On the other side of the Pope, a stern-looking man with a salt-and-pepper goatee. His right arm is held up at a 90-degree angle, as if he’s surrendering, or perhaps waving. Two fingers jut out from his clench on his gun. It almost looks like a peace sign.

The video’s description on YouTube notes that if you’re a tattooed, sunburned, gun-toting, leather-wearing biker who might get kicked out of a regular church, you’re definitely welcome at Heart of Fire.

***
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:12 pm

Part 2 of 2

Through the years, as American politics grew more divisive, the Pope used his church as an outlet for his political agenda.

A tax-exempt church such as Heart of Fire is barred by the U.S. tax code from supporting or opposing a specific political candidate. Such activity can, in theory, result in the revocation of a church’s tax-exempt status, according to Fran Hill, a professor at University of Miami Law School and a tax attorney.

The church rally in August 2016, when Johnson tearfully pushed Trump’s candidacy, was a violation, according to Hill and two other tax attorneys who reviewed the video. There were many other political endorsements, former church members say.

But Hill and others said the IRS lacks the political flexibility and the resources to enforce this law. Indeed, Congress has imposed limitations on the IRS’s ability to investigate possible violations by churches.

More recently, President Trump and Kentucky governor Bevin have sought to eliminate the politicking prohibition altogether.

At least one churchgoer was turned off by Johnson’s political proselytizing. Jennifer Stepp, who was bounced from the ballot last year and replaced by Johnson, attended Heart of Fire for several months, a few years ago.

“Turning worship into a political event bothered me,” she said recently.

She also recalled sermons laced with racist and anti-Islam comments. And congregants smoked in church. “I didn’t want to be associated with that,” Stepp said.

Stepp grew troubled by another component of the church: the weekend parties at Pope’s House.

“The first night I went up there I was like, ‘Wow… never seen a church like this before,” Stepp said.

Bikers, booze and, occasionally, bare breasts. A part-time tattoo parlor with a costume party featuring zombie nuns in short skirts.

Law enforcement saw some of this, too. State and local Alcoholic Beverage Control officers cited Johnson and the church three times between 2008 and 2015 for unlicensed alcohol sales.




In one case, ABC agents arrived to see Johnson and others whisking away cases of beer from behind the bar. Patrons told officers they had been directed to say they had brought their own alcohol in, rather than buying it there.

When the case went to trial in March 2009, Johnson testified before Jefferson District Judge Sheila Collins. He wore a priest’s collar and a cross around his neck. His defense to the charge: the alcohol being served at the church actually constituted “communion.”

Since it was communion, he argued, he didn’t need a liquor license.

Collins was not impressed, or convinced.

“I do not find that this party was ‘communion’ in any sense of the church word of ‘communion’ that I’m familiar with,” Collins said.

She called his characterization disingenuous. She found him guilty and fined him $250.

The three criminal charges resulted in minor penalties, diversion or dismissal. And since February 2015, ABC officials have conducted no additional inspections at the church. No follow-ups, no check-ins, since.

Meanwhile, the booze has continued to flow. Underage drinking was common, according to several people who partook.


Danielle Elmore, now in her mid-20s, was underage when she attended some of these parties. She considered herself a regular at the church and the bar.

“Yes, there’s times when it got crazy,” Elmore said. She recalls feeling uncomfortable when a boozy Johnson would sometimes kiss her and other young women on the lips.

Elmore knew something wasn’t right. But she didn’t know that the liquor and partying would serve as a backdrop to something much more serious: alleged molestation in Pope’s House.

Image

FOUR: An Accusation Of Molestation

Maranda Richmond sips a cup of water and takes a seat in the newsroom's studio.

The 21-year-old shifts her weight in the chair and says she is ready. She has waited years for this day. And she looks as comfortable as anyone could be while telling us about an alleged sexual assault that occurred years ago at the hands of her trusted pastor, who later parlayed voters’ trust into a seat in the statehouse.

The story of how she ended up here in front of a microphone began seven weeks earlier, with our public records request to the Louisville Metro Police Department for all complaints related to Danny Ray Johnson, the self-proclaimed Pope and now state lawmaker. The request yielded just nine pages of documents.

Most of the documents were pretty routine: a couple of minor traffic-related mishaps. But there also was this report:

Sexual abuse of a 17-year-old girl at the church. Danny Ray Johnson listed as the suspect. The disposition: case closed.

The alleged victim’s name, and virtually all other details, had been redacted from the document. But a few phone calls led to Maranda Richmond.

She was willing to sit down and share her story. She wanted others to know more about the man she knew as Pope.

Image
Maranda Richmond (J. Tyler Franklin)

The Heart of Fire Church’s affinity for motorcyclists first captured the interest of Maranda’s father about 13 years ago. Cliff Richmond rides and works on bikes, and a friend said he should check out this unusual church on Bardstown Road. The church seemed welcoming, fun and unconventional. He took his daughter, who was then 8 years old, to her first Sunday service.

Maranda found the hourslong services — the sermons, the music, the shared communal meal — a bit exhausting. But they also provided a sense of community. She considered Danny Ray Johnson “a second dad.”

Through the years, she grew attached to Johnson’s children, especially his daughter, Sarah. “We were two peas in a pod,” Richmond remembers.

They grew up together, saw each other on Sundays and spent time together outside the church. As a young teen, Richmond would sleep over at the church, get into teenage hijinks and drink booze.

From time to time, Johnson and other adults would prepare the drinks.

“Sometimes they would make mixed drinks for us, and I never knew exactly what it was at the time, but I drank it because it was alcohol and I thought it was cool,” Richmond said.


Often, weekends meant parties at the Pope’s House. Sometimes there’d be concerts. Other times just booze and camaraderie. Some of the antics — the scantily clad women, the dancing on the bar, the body shots, the costumes — have been documented in pictures posted to Johnson’s Facebook page.

But New Year’s Eve 2012 was especially wild. Johnson, Richmond remembers, was drunk. Midnight came, people celebrated and then partiers started to head home. Johnson disappeared for a bit to a favorite local bar, T.K.’s Pub.

Richmond had planned to stay the night with her friend Sarah at the apartment below the fellowship hall. There was no school the next day.

Hours after midnight, she remembers Johnson returning to the hall, drunk. He was stumbling and fumbling around, and she helped him down the stairs into the apartment and told him to go to bed. Johnson put an arm around her — for balance, Richmond thought — until his hand slipped up her shirt. At the time, she didn’t pay it much heed.

She and Sarah hung out for a while. Then they went to sleep on a large, L-shaped sectional sofa.


***

Here, in the studio, Richmond speaks quickly without pausing. She says she's been dealing with this for so long that telling her story barely makes her emotional anymore. She plunges ahead with the details.

That night, she woke after settling in on the sofa. She was groggy, unfocused. But she saw Johnson kneeling above her. He gave her a kiss on the head. She thought it fatherly, nothing out of the ordinary, simply one last goodnight gesture.

Then he started to stroke her arm. He slid his hands up, under her shirt and bra, and groped her. He stuck his tongue in her mouth. Then, he forced his hands down her pants, underneath her underwear, and penetrated her with his finger.

She begged her pastor to stop and tried to force him off, quietly. She remembers not wanting to awaken Sarah. But Johnson was a big man, roughly twice her weight.

He told her she’d like it. She said no, she didn’t. She pleaded with him: go away, go away.

Eventually, he did.


She lay on the sofa for hours, those moments running through her head, over and over. She remembers feeling frozen.

"Every little sound that I heard I was terrified that it was his door opening up and he was coming back out,” she said.

She felt she couldn’t leave or scream. Shortly after dawn, she concocted a story for Sarah and left. She never returned.

Johnson noticed when Maranda didn’t show up for Sunday service the next week. At 11:28 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2013, he sent her a Facebook message.

Johnson wrote that his daughter, Sarah, had told him he had been mean to the girls and his son, Boaz.

Sarah said I was mean to Bo You and Her by telling you all to go to bed so sorry don’t remember I was told we all got drugged at TK’s anyway so sorry if I sounded mean, you know you are one of my favorites, love you sorry! Boaz did Great Sunday ! Your future Husband !


Maranda couldn’t believe it. Days after this New Year’s party and encounter, her pastor was sending her a Facebook message saying he was sorry, sort of. And he was claiming someone “drugged him” at his go-to local bar.

Richmond responded a day later.

What you did was beyond mean, it was evil. Drugged or not, I think you know what happened that night and that’s why you’re sending this message. I never thought something like that would happen to me, especially by someone like you. I looked at you as a Dad, but now I sincerely hope I don’t see you again, but I might try to maintain a relationship with your kids. And there is no point in responding to this message either because I don’t want to talk about it ever again.


Johnson never replied.

***

What kind of impact does an alleged sexual assault at the hands of a trusted pastor have on a 17-year-old girl?

“I’ve coped with it,” Richmond says now. “I know that it happened to me. And the main thing I can do is get it out there so that people know and that it doesn’t happen to anybody else. That’s all I want. I just don’t want somebody else to go through this.”

She shared her therapist’s psychosocial assessment, notes and progress reports from their sessions together in the summer following the encounter. The documents outline how an alleged sexual assault pushed an honor roll student and drum major at Louisville Male High School into despair. She had signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The therapist noted Maranda had previously felt safe in the church, trusted the pastor and looked up to him. Now, she was having dreams, seeing visions. Terrified of running into him, she avoided Bardstown Road and Fern Creek.

Maranda kept hearing the word “rape” in her dreams. She thought she saw her pastor in the backyard. She cried in appointments. “He basically molested me,” she told the therapist.


She couldn't erase the image of herself, lying on a couch, a dark figure looming over her. She remembered the smell of beer on his breath... everything happening in slow motion… she thought of broken trust, a lost friendship.

All the preaching, all the sermons. She told her therapist: “Every single thing he was doing is a lie. It’s all fake.”

The therapist’s record of their June 17, 2013, meeting noted that Richmond wanted to press charges regardless of where the case may go. Richmond told the therapist she’s “the kind of person who doesn’t give up. No matter what.”

***

Maranda didn’t immediately tell her parents. It took several months.

Her mother, Cathy Brooks, had expressed worry about her unusual behavior and Maranda finally told her. Then they called Cliff Richmond. Just as Maranda had predicted, her father wanted revenge.

“Like any father, I was enraged,” Cliff Richmond recalls. “I was wanting to stomp him.”

Cliff had been at the Heart of Fire Church that New Year’s Eve, and he vividly remembers Johnson.

“He was lit,” he said. “I looked over and he had his face in some young girl’s crotch and boobs and I was, ‘whoa, I don’t see ministers doing that.’”

But it never occurred to him that Johnson might do something similar, or worse, to Maranda. After all, Johnson was his longtime friend and their pastor. Cliff felt comfortable letting Maranda spend the night with her friend, Sarah.


He and Johnson were like brothers. Then he heard Maranda’s story. Now, Cliff can’t stand Johnson. “He’s a manipulator,” he said.

Image

Shortly after Maranda told her parents, the three of them went to police. It was April 2013. Officers wanted Maranda to meet with Johnson and secretly record their conversation, hoping he would confess.

She was afraid to go through with it.

Instead, a detective had her call Johnson on a recorded line. Johnson didn’t answer. He didn’t respond to a Facebook message either.

Cliff had stopped going to Heart of Fire after Maranda shared her story. But, police asked him to make his own recorded call to Johnson.

This time, the Pope answered.

A scratchy recording of the call captures Cliff and Johnson making small talk for a few moments. Then Cliff asks point-blank: Did you sexually assault my daughter?

Johnson denies it. He repeats his earlier claim — in the Facebook message to Maranda — that he’d been drugged that night. He says he didn’t remember.

The call ends unremarkably. So did the case.

Police did little after that call. Investigators closed the case. No charges were filed.

The Pope continued to preach and Maranda Richmond tried to move past those memories.

Johnson ran for office, and won, with this story of alleged sexual assault — contained in a few police documents and recordings — still a secret to most. It wouldn’t remain so for long.

Image

FIVE: When Our Institutions Fail

Maranda Richmond has lived for years with memories of the traumatic New Year’s encounter with her pastor, Danny Ray Johnson. We share with her an email from police that shows how her case concluded.

“Closed by exception.”

She doesn’t understand what it means.

The detective concluded that Maranda had either withdrawn her complaint or refused to cooperate with investigators.

This is news to Maranda. She falls silent, pondering the claim.

“I never once did not want to continue on,” she says.

She was 17 at the time of the alleged assault, and had no idea how police investigations work.

“I didn’t know if I was supposed to go there and continue to try, or if they were supposed to contact me,” Maranda says. “I never stopped it... I feel as if they kind of gave up on it.”


Records show police did exactly that.

After Richmond and her father couldn’t get Johnson to incriminate himself on the phone, LMPD Det. Antoinette Leitsch reached out to Richmond’s mother in a single phone call.

According to Leitsch’s report, Cathy Brooks claimed her daughter was busy and having second thoughts about pushing the matter.

Following that phone call in September 2013, and hearing nothing more, Leitsch closed the case.

Brooks says today that she never told the detective that Maranda didn’t want to press charges. Both she and Maranda say the goal was always to see Johnson brought to justice.

The case file makes clear: Leitsch never attempted to interview Johnson. And it appears the detective reviewed the case under the wrong criminal classification, characterizing it as a misdemeanor, rather than a more serious felony offense.


Four criminal justice experts analyzed LMPD records of Richmond’s case at the request of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The experts were unanimous: police botched the investigation.

David Stengel, who oversaw countless Louisville police investigations during his 16-year tenure as Jefferson commonwealth’s attorney, found several holes in this one. The biggest: classifying the alleged crime as a misdemeanor.

Here’s why:

Upon hearing Richmond’s story, Leitsch wrote up the initial complaint as third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for that offense is 90 days in jail and the window for bringing a prosecution is one year.

Stengel said the case should have been investigated as sexual abuse in the first degree — a felony. A conviction for that offense can bring up to five years behind bars. And in Kentucky, there is no statute of limitations for a felony prosecution.


First-degree sexual abuse fits with the allegations made in the case, Stengel said. The law also states that felony sexual abuse occurs when someone in a position of authority or special trust subjects a minor to sexual contact. That specifically includes a “religious leader.”

Richmond was 17 at the time. Johnson was her pastor.

As for police not interviewing Johnson, and not consulting with Richmond herself before closing the case, Stengel said they should have done both. Other experts agreed.

David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said sex crime allegations involving minors need to be investigated thoroughly and aggressively.

“If there's good evidence of a sex crime, this may have happened to other kids before, and letting it go means other victims may be harmed in the future,” Harris said.

Leitsch, who has since retired from the department, refused to discuss her handling of the case.

“I don’t want to do any interviews,” she said.

Image
Richmond meets with KyCIR reporters. (J. Tyler Franklin)

Louisville police officials refused to talk about Richmond’s case. They did agree in July to meet and talk generally about sexual assault investigations. But when questions turned to her case, things changed quickly. Three police officials ordered us out of headquarters. Follow-up phone calls and email requests to police were ignored.

But following our repeated inquiries to LMPD, Maranda Richmond did receive a phone call from police, 3-1/2 years after they’d closed her case. On the phone, an LMPD detective asked her if she was satisfied with the initial police investigation. She was not.

The detective asked Richmond if she wanted to reopen the case. She did. And police have complied.

But some five months later, according to Richmond, it appears detectives once again have done virtually nothing to determine what happened in the basement below the church bar on New Year’s Eve in 2012.

Richmond told us her story several months before allegations of sexual harassment and assault involving top entertainment, business and political figures rocketed across the country.

Kentucky lawmakers have also once again become embroiled in controversy over sexual misconduct, the latest in a series of cases in the last several decades to tarnish the legislature. The Republican Speaker of the House, Jeff Hoover, recently resigned his post after allegations of sexual misconduct. Governor Bevin has urged those involved to leave office.

And state Rep. Danny Ray Johnson weighed in.

“I’m totally against anything that has to do with abuse,” he told Courier Journal. “However, there are no perfect people.”

***

While experts say it’s clear that police botched the investigation of Johnson, no one will ever know whether he would have been elected had details of the case been made public.

What is clear is that this failure to investigate further wasn’t the only time an institution faltered, failed or looked the other way when Johnson did something improper or illegal. Time and again, institutional failures amid a web of deception and lies provided tiny cracks, openings even, for Johnson’s rise and ascension from preacher to politician.

Among the failures:

Johnson’s Heart of Fire Church was cited three separate times between 2008 and 2015 for selling alcohol without a license. But it’s clear — from a recent visit and interviews with a half-dozen former church members and others — that visitors to the Pope’s House could still easily purchase booze there. Aside from a few temporary, short-term event licenses, the church never could sell alcohol legally during the past decade. And it still has no liquor license.

Image
Johnson (LRC Public Information)

Why haven’t ABC officers been back to the church in more than two years, to see if it was still breaking the law? Why hasn’t a repeat offender warranted more scrutiny?

State ABC officials won’t discuss the matter. The local ABC administrator, Robert Kirchdorfer, said follow-ups aren’t part of his agency’s protocol, and that it mostly responds to complaints.

Mike Hatzell, an attorney who for some 40 years represented clients before state and local ABC boards, said the history of alcohol violations at Pope’s House creates reasonable suspicion of more problems and warrants regular inspections and follow-ups. “I’m surprised they are not doing that,” Hatzell said.


Another institution that could have – and under federal law, should have – done more to examine Johnson and his church is the Internal Revenue Service.

Johnson’s pulpit politicking, in which he aligned himself with Trump at every opportunity, was crucial in building his image and campaign. His explicit advocacy for Trump’s candidacy for president was a clear violation of the IRS code governing tax-exempt organizations.

The IRS could attempt to rescind the church’s tax-exempt status.

“The agency that is supposed to be enforcing the laws that Congress enacted is not doing it,” said law professor Fran Hill. “And they’ve announced publicly that they are not doing it and they are not able to.”


***

The state’s political parties and leaders have also failed to hold Johnson accountable. Following news of Johnson’s racist Facebook posts, officials on both sides of the political aisle called for him to get out of the 49th District race.

Johnson ignored them. That’s where it ended.

Why didn’t state and local politicians do more to get Johnson off the ballot? Did they adequately vet him?

Rebecca Witherington, head of the Bullitt County Democratic Party, and Paul Ham, the local GOP chair, both dodged questions about their pre-election silence.

“That campaign is done, it’s over with, we’re moving forward,” Witherington said.

Added Ham: “I’m not going to answer anything else about Dan Johnson, let’s push on.”

The state Democratic Party didn’t do much either. Daniel Lowry, the party’s spokesman at the time of the election, acknowledged that the party knew about the alcohol violations and had heard some of the details surrounding Maranda Richmond.

But the party did little more than issue the statement condemning Johnson’s racist Facebook rants.


“That was about as strong as we could do,” Lowry said. “We would have had to spend money on advertisements, maybe, and bought commercials.”

In other words, pressing the matter wasn’t seen as worth the money.

The state Republican Party also pretty much took a pass.

“We washed our hands of the situation as best we could,” said party spokesman Tres Watson. “We are very comfortable with the efforts we took. The only thing you can’t get back is time.”


Linda Belcher, Johnson’s Democratic opponent in the legislative race, had heard some murmurings about Johnson, too. In mid-October 2016, Maranda Richmond sent an email to Belcher, asserting that Johnson had “sexually molested” her several years earlier.

Richmond wrote: “I would hate to see this district vote for someone they don’t know the truth about. I’d really like to finally have him exposed for his actions.”

Belcher remembers telling Richmond she “couldn’t do anything for her.”
She passed the message on to local and state Democratic Party leaders. And that was that.

***

Another institution that merits scrutiny for failing to examine Johnson’s past: the media.

Five weeks before the 2016 election, media outlets were saturated with stories about Johnson’s racist Facebook posts. Maranda Richmond said she reached out to a television reporter in the weeks before the election, seeking to tell her story. That effort went nowhere.

No news organization’s curiosity was piqued to dig deeper, to find out what else the public should know about Johnson.

Chuck Clark, who is director of student publications at Western Kentucky University and previously helped manage newspapers in several states, said media outlets no longer devote time to scrubbing a candidate’s history.

“They don’t have the resources, local races go uncovered,” Clark said. “Journalists are the best thing to vet information. We poke holes in it. Testing it. The only thing that makes American democracy work is having an informed public. Journalists are the best source of information.”

But informing the public often is not quick or easy.

***

This investigation started with a late-night text message from a longtime source earlier this year. “Strictly off the record, do you know about state Rep. Dan Johnson’s past? I hate hypocrites among public officials.”

This led to records requests and phone calls, which led to sit-down interviews and reporting trips. Each open door led to more doors. More twists, more turns, more lies.

And ultimately, a visit to the Bullitt County courthouse for a 9/11 memorial event.

Johnson was the master of ceremonies. He knew why a couple of investigative reporters had come. He knew we had information about him that differed drastically from his public persona.

He’d already made it very clear that he didn’t want to talk. He’d been evasive for weeks. Calls and emails to him went unanswered. He agreed to an interview, then canceled it. After that, he passed the buck to the Kentucky Republican Party, which was no help either.

Twice, Johnson called us “fake news.”

Here, at a public event, was a last effort to arrange a meeting, a last chance to ask him why he’s lied so often for so long, why he breaks the law with indifference. And, how did he pull this whole thing off?

But before Johnson took the stage, he called out loudly across the courthouse square. Then he strode over.

“There’s a lawsuit pending, so y’all have to leave,” he said.

What lawsuit? And isn’t this public property?

“You’ll get it all. It’s going to be fully read, attorney written,” Johnson said. “You’ll get it. Bye. Y’all need to leave. You can’t be close to me, because you’ve been harassing me.”


No interview. No answers from Danny Ray Johnson, the preacher and elected politician.

Three months later, no lawsuit has materialized. But this much seems clear:

Johnson — the preacher-turned-politician, the alleged arsonist and molester, the liar who says he was on the front lines of history and has received nearly $20,000 in legislative pay this year — will be in Frankfort when the legislature meets again soon.

Come Sunday, he’ll be preaching from the Heart of Fire Church pulpit.

And he’s filed papers to seek re-election next May.

R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533. Jacob Ryan can be reached at jryan@kycir.org and (502) 814.6559.

Reporters/producers: R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan
Producer: Laura Ellis
Editing: Brendan McCarthy, Erica Peterson and Stephen George
Website: Alexandra Kanik
Creative direction: Sean Cannon
Scoring: Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Sound
Theme song: “Seventh Son” by Willie Dixon; recorded by Ratterman and featuring Louisville’s own Patrick Hallahan, Alex Wrickle, Scott Carney and Otis Jr., with backing vocals from Hannah Sexton and Savannah Ecklar
Illustrations: Carrie Neumayer
Legal: Jon Fleischaker and Michael Abate

A grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism supported this work.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:52 pm

The Trials Of Bob Packwood
by Trip Gabriel
New York Times
August 29, 1993

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While running for reelection in 1980, Bob Packwood was eager to meet his campaign chairwoman for Lane County, Ore. The Senator invited Gena Hutton to dinner at the motel where he was staying in Eugene for a get-acquainted meeting. Hutton, a 35-year-old divorced mother of two, had brought along pictures of her children and even her cats.

Then it was time to go and Packwood offered to walk her to her car. "As I started to put the key in the car door," Hutton recalls, "he just reeled me around and grabbed me and pulled me close to him." For an instant, she thought he was offering a good-night hug. But then the Senator planted a full kiss on her lips, wriggling his tongue into her mouth.

Hutton's first reaction was shame: she didn't think she had given any hint of a come-on. Then she thought of the scandal that might ensue if Packwood, a married man, was recognized by a passer-by. Hustling him into her car, Hutton drove the Senator across the motel parking lot to his room, where he tried to talk her into coming inside. "You really don't want me to do that," she said firmly. Eventually Packwood retired alone.

"I knew, without a doubt, I was not going in the room," Hutton says. "I was mortified that he would be willing to risk his reputation and everything he'd done by sexually coming on to his campaign chairperson. It was so totally inappropriate."

Hutton had joined the Packwood campaign after responding to a fund-raising letter signed by Gloria Steinem, in which she applauded the Republican Senator's long support of abortion rights. On the drive home, Hutton pulled off the road and burst into tears. "I was pretty innocent," she says. "I believed he was the great person I thought he was, and this hadn't happened with other people."

AH, BUT IT HAD. HUTTON, A Political novice in Oregon, hadn't heard the rumors swirling for years around Bob Packwood, the graying boy wonder and maverick of the United State Senate. Tales of Packwood's exploits as a masher, often involving members of his staff, had long been served up for the delectation of insiders, like canapes at a political cocktail party. In the years before sexual harassment became a national catch phrase, such incidents were usually winked away.

Then came a seismic shift in social values that relocated the fault line between what was private and what was seen as justifiably public. For Packwood, the rumors acquired flesh and blood last November, three weeks after he narrowly won re-election to a fifth term. An article in The Washington Post cited 10 women who accused Packwood of making unwanted sexual advances, spanning from 1969, his first year as a Senator, to 1990.

Amid angry calls for his resignation, Packwood fled from sight, checking into the Hazelden Foundation clinic for alcoholism in Center City, Minn. He had reportedly been drinking before several of the harassment episodes.

He reappeared at a nationally televised news conference in December and apologized to his accusers, admitting "My actions were just plain wrong." At the same time, he testily refused to discuss details. "I'm apologizing for the conduct that it was alleged that I did," he said, an utterance that struck critics as a gem of obfuscation. The feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, among others, filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee asking for an investigation.

Now after months of legwork by staff investigators, the committee is considering hearings that could re-expose to the public the raw nerve of sexual harassment -- Round 2 in a fight to define the meaning and moral valence of an issue first raised at the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. If anything has become clear in the two years since that agonizing confrontation, it's that the national debate over sexual harassment is far from over.

Is ardently kissing a woman goodbye, when a handshake would be expected, a form of harassment? Is telling a dirty joke? Is there a clear line between illegal harassment and simply an awkward and boorish pass?

Does it matter that most of the incidents in the Packwood case took place from the late 60's through the mid-80's, before society widely agreed to condemn sexual harassment? Does it matter that among the women who worked for Packwood and are prepared to testify, no one is claiming the Senator penalized her for refusing his advances, and that some even continued serving amicably in his organization?

Packwood's supporters argue that his critics are politically motivated and seek only to clear a Senate seat so they can win it. If Packwood is to be disciplined for sexual misconduct, they ask, why not other Senators, like Ted Kennedy, who have been dogged for years by rumors of improprieties?

The 60-year-old Packwood is cast in the unlucky role of lightning rod just when the Senate is under pressure to prove its newly awakened sensitivity to the issue of sexual harassment, following the rough, inquisitorial treatment Hill suffered at the hands of some Senators two years ago. Fifty-eight senators have adopted anti-sexual-harassment guidelines framed by the Capitol Hill Women's Political Caucus. Packwood, in an irony no one's failed to note, was an early signer.

The fire from women's groups, which has been especially withering, is being fueled by a sense of personal betrayal. For years, Packwood, the embodiment of a quirky Oregon species, the socially progressive Republican, has been a strong supporter of women's causes. A leader of the abortion-rights brigades, he introduced the first Senate bill to legalize abortion in 1970; a decade later, after Bill Bradley and Daniel Patrick Moynihan demurred, he led a lonely filibuster against his own party's bill to make abortion the equivalent of murder. He has also regularly hired women to run his campaigns and to serve as his top aides.

But after the first wave of news accounts, many more women came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct, raising the total to at least 24. (The Ethics Committee has also widened its inquiry to include Packwood's attempts to discredit his accusers before he apologized.) Many of the women are pressing for public hearings to prevent the matter from being swept under the rug. Packwood would prefer that the Ethics Committee, which has a long tradition of protecting its own, hear the evidence in private. A decision is expected soon.

The Senator, who has not publicly shared how it feels to see his pro-woman legacy mocked by a sexual misconduct scandal, declined to be interviewed for this article. But as one old friend says, "In all probability, he's going through tortured hell with this whole thing." Others close to him, however, say he's responding stoically, with little hint of inner pain. On a rare visit to Oregon in January, as demonstrators banged on his motel windows and ridiculed him as "Senator Peckerwood," he displayed tight-lipped composure.

"He's not a warm and fuzzy person," says his ex-wife, Georgie Packwood, whose marriage to the Senator ended in 1991 after 26 years and two grown children. She says her husband was never comfortable discussing intimate matters. It was probably no coincidence that he chose as his chief area of expertise the United States tax code. "The intellectual idea of tax reform is absolutely the most titillating thing in the world to him," says Georgie Packwood. "How it affects Mrs. Jones on 13th Street, he doesn't give a darn about."

Packwood lives alone in a two-bedroom basement apartment in Northwest Washington. At the time of his divorce, he testified that his combined checking and savings accounts held $700. He has never been driven by the need for money. Only power. He has whittled down his life to the one thing he cares about most: horse trading in the Senate, where he is the ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee.

He works 13-hour days, arriving at his office even before the private Senate elevators are running, at 6:30 A.M. He is obsessive about details and has been known to scold staffers for turning in memos with minor typos. Although he may not wear his emotions on his sleeve, he was moved to tears when the 1986 Tax Reform Act passed in committee.

If Packwood is a classic policy dweeb -- a grown-up version of the debate team member in Coke-bottle glasses that he was in high school -- the origins of his troublesome behavior toward women may lie in the same persona. A bizarre feature of his attempted seductions, as described by his many accusers, is that they were less the actions of a sophisticated Lothario than of a shy and nebbishy teen-ager. It's as though his notions of relations between the sexes never evolved much beyond post-adolescence.

"Bob is not comfortable in his own skin," says Georgie Packwood. "I think he still sees himself as that person behind the Coke-bottle lenses. It's very pathetic."

AT A TIME WHEN SEXUAL harassment is such a highly charged issue, it can be dangerous to attempt to make distinctions between greater and lesser offenses. Still, there is a clear difference between Packwood's unwanted advances and, for example, those reportedly made by Brock Adams, the former Democratic Senator from Washington. In March 1992, eight women accused Adams of sexually molesting them, sometimes after he spiked their drinks to make them groggy. Adams strongly denied the charges, but immediately withdrew his bid for re-election.

According to Packwood's accusers, he was never this coercive. His advances consisted chiefly of dropping sudden, surprise French kisses on women, usually after forcefully seizing them by their arms or waists.
The women, most of them members of Packwood's staff, lobbyists and campaign volunteers, deny sending any signals of romantic interest. When they acted shocked and resisted, Packwood invariably backed off.

The Senator was no Don Juan. He didn't flirt suavely or invite women for candle-lit dinners. No, he swooped down out of the blue, usually embracing a woman under the fluorescent lights of an inner office. According to many accounts, his groping was wooden and his open-mouthed kisses oddly passionless. "I have no idea," one alleged victim says, "why this man thinks women are going to suddenly rip their clothes off."

Friends from Packwood's pre-Senate days, when he was a young lawyer in Portland with a precocious appetite for politics, remember him as a womanizer manque. "As far as men-women relationships, he was always kind of a nerd," recalls a female attorney who knew him in the early 60's. "The joke was he dated women because they'd advance his political career."

Packwood was raised in Portland, the son of a lobbyist for state industries like timber and railroading. On long car trips, Fred Packwood would grill his son about current events, often to the point where young Bob burst into tears. Contemporaries of his parents recall that they fought often, especially after they'd had a few drinks. Bob would lock himself in his room to study or build model airplanes.

At Grant High School, he gave little hint of becoming a future leader. "Remember the movie 'Revenge of the Nerds'?" asks Mark Kirchmeier, a Portland journalist who is writing a Packwood biography. "Packwood probably identifies with that role." Shy and nearsighted in his thick glasses, Packwood was so self-conscious that in the late 50's he became one of the early users of contact lenses.

There are signs that Packwood has remained painfully ill at ease. During their years of marriage, Georgie Packwood recalls, she often had to reassure her husband of his ability to be charming at Washington dinner parties. But he didn't believe her and was convinced that nobody genuinely liked him. His former wife says he cited his persistent feelings of insecurity to justify his drinking. "I don't feel at ease and it helps me to drink," she recalls him saying. "I feel more charming when I drink."

The Senator may have inherited his social awkwardness from his mother, whose acute feelings of shyness sometimes led to strange behavior in public. At campaign headquarters on election night, when a camera panned her, Gladys Packwood would stick her tongue out.

While Packwood's chronic self-doubt may help shed light on his dealings with women, it fails to satisfy some critics. B. Carlton Grew, a lawyer for Oregonians for Ethical Representation, an organization that is attempting to unseat Packwood, notes that most people eventually outgrow adolescent patterns of behavior. "But he was immune to that because of his rise through the political system," Grew says. "The problem he's got is abuse of power. That's what it comes down to -- the way he treated the women, the way he's behaving now, the cynical manipulation of the whole Hazelden thing."

IN SOME SENSE, THE CASE against Packwood reflects a conflict between generations. Defense lawyers in harassment suits recognize this when they try to seat older jurors -- male executives, who came up believing that flirting with and even hitting on subordinates was a perk of the job, and older working women, who often take the view that female employees should just deal quietly with harassment and move on.

Some Packwood loyalists argue he's being judged ex post facto by newly sensitive standards. "I don't think people like the Senator should be judged by these new rules for things he did a long time ago," says Pamela Garvie, a Packwood aide in the early 80's.

Packwood is the product of a bygone world in which the only women in most offices were secretaries. His first job as a lawyer, in 1958, was for a rock-ribbed Portland firm that was still two decades away from hiring its first female associate.

Along with other eligible bachelors, Packwood formed the 528 Club, which met regularly for cocktails on a houseboat on the Willamette River. The name derived from the page number of an Irwin Shaw novel, "The Young Lions," about a lusty group of young men in Europe during World War II. On page 528, Shaw described a club whose one rule was that members had to bring a different date to each gathering.

"Not to say it's right, but there was a mind-set then that was totally different than today," says Ed Westerdahl, a member of the steering committee for Packwood's first Senate race in 1968. "Twenty years ago at parties, I'd see people doing much more than he's being accused of and nobody gave it a second thought. The pinching, touching, feeling was considered to be friendly, not harassing."

Packwood dates his awakening on women's issues to his early experiences in state politics. In 1962, he successfully ran for the Oregon Legislature by raising an army of volunteers to blanket his district with lawn signs and campaign literature. The majority of his doorbell-ringers were educated women who didn't hold jobs, and Packwood, realizing they were an untapped resource, promoted them to positions of authority.

"I remember him saying to me in about 1963 that the greatest wasted resource in this country was the talents of women," says Jack Faust, Packwood's longtime lawyer and adviser. "No one was saying things like that." In 1968, Packwood's army of mainly female volunteers became the shock troops in his upset victory over Oregon's liberal Democratic Senator, Wayne Morse.

Yet even in the early campaigns, there is evidence of a disconnect between Packwood's promotion of women as a class and his private treatment of individual women. In 1969, Julie Williamson, a 29-year-old legal secretary in Packwood's Portland office, was on the phone when the Senator suddenly kissed her on the back of the neck. Williamson, who was married, recalls saying "Don't you ever do that again."

But later, when Williamson walked into a back office, Packwood followed her. According to Williamson, the Senator approached her and, without uttering a word, stood on her feet, pulled back her ponytail with one hand and tried to yank down her girdle with the other. Williamson escaped his grasp and fled the room. Stalking past her, he said, "If not today, some other day." Williamson, a longtime Packwood loyalist, resigned and found another job, taking a cut in pay.

To those who say Packwood is being unfairly judged by more exacting contemporary standards, Williamson replies that in offices in the 60's men actually behaved more gallantly, addressing her by her married surname, never Julie, and holding doors. Conduct like Packwood's, she says, was never the norm.

"We're not talking about verbal harassment or lewd remarks, which were things that might have been acceptable at one time," Patricia Ireland, the president of the National Organization for Women, has said. "It's an insult to the Senate and the men in the Senate that he or anybody else would not have known it was wrong to tear at a woman's clothing, to stand on her toes, to stick his tongue in her mouth."

In those days, before the term sexual harassment entered the language, no one thought to give antics like Packwood's a special label. Incidents like Williamson's were lumped in with the Senator's general reputation as a womanizer. He was regularly rumored to be having extramarital affairs, often with staff members.

"People in Portland involved in politics one way or another all know each other, and everyone's known for years how he carried on," says a woman who has worked for candidates from both parties in the state. The consensus among those hearing the rumors was not that Packwood was guilty of sexual harasssment -- a new legal precept still being defined by the courts -- but that he was something simpler: a lout.

This was the conclusion of Gillian Butler, who in 1980 was a front-desk clerk at the Red Lion Motor Inn in downtown Portland, where Packwood often stayed. One day as the Senator was checking out, Butler told him about a letter she had sent his office protesting the military draft. Packwood asked her to write again, promising they would meet to discuss her views the next time he was in town.

Butler, who was 22 and admittedly naive, felt flattered. In a neat script, she wrote three painfully earnest pages analyzing "international aggression." Soon after, she says, Packwood invited her to discuss the subject over drinks. The Senator's choice of meeting place had upholstered, red walls like a Las Vegas lounge, and when Packwood entered, Butler was amazed to see he was greeted like a regular. Confused about why he wanted to meet in a bar, she had invited her boyfriend as an escort.

One day after that, according to Butler, Packwood unexpectedly leaned across the front desk of the Red Lion and kissed her on the lips. "I backed away and laughed it off," she says. "I was embarrassed, and I was trying to think what I could have done to make him think that was O.K." On another occasion, the Senator followed her into a luggage closet and kissed her again on the lips. Butler swiftly backed out. "I started telling people he was sleazy after that," she says.

Such stories, while legion in Oregon, posed little threat to Packwood. It was still the era when the media gave politicians virtual carte blanche in their private lives.

Nonetheless, Packwood's innermost circle feared he might one day step over the line and create a genuine scandal. They were especially concerned about the vulnerablity of the many female volunteers who turned out for him. A staff member who organized grass-roots operations and traveled the state with the Senator during his 1980 campaign says he was told by a top aide to refuse any requests by Packwood to help him pick up women.

"I was warned that I might be recruited by him to pimp for him, especially in my position recruiting volunteers," he says. "I can recall being taken aside and told: 'This kind of stuff may happen. Don't let it happen.' "


GEORGIE PACKWOOD HEARD the rumors of her husband's womanizing. But she discounted them, and on the few occasions she confronted the Senator, he denied he was unfaithful. In retrospect, perhaps she didn't really want him to confirm any rumors. "I was concerned that perhaps he was doing some womanizing," she says. "I thought, 'Well, I can weather that.' It hurts so deeply, but he keeps coming back to me."

For years, Georgie was the model, stand-by-your man political wife. She was all too willing to ignore unflattering aspects of her husband's behavior because, like others around him, she too was a bit awe-struck by his position. The daughter of an official of the Portland Boy Scouts, the-53-year-old Georgie is a down-to-earth and intelligent woman, with eyes the color of faded denim and blond hair going to gray.

When the Packwoods first arrived in Washington in 1969, after Bob's election to the Senate at age 36, everyone wanted to meet the young and energetic couple. They received three invitations a night, five nights a week. Bob Packwood and the young Dan Rather, both abrasive, became good friends.

For Georgie, that period was a high point. But soon she began to feel her husband withdrawing into the secret, all-male society of the Senate. Her friend Penny Durenberger, the wife of Senator Dave Durenberger of Minnesota, once quipped that being a Senator's wife was the ideal preparation for widowhood.

Campaign years were the worst. Bob didn't take re-election in stride. He went through periods of manic fund raising and personal paranoia, during which his consumption of alcohol would spike. Even in normal times, he was a hearty drinker, known for ordering two drinks at once and pouring white wine for his staff beginning around 4:30 P.M. Most observers thought he could hold his liquor, downing as many as 10 beers at a sitting without showing the effects. He boasted he never had a hangover.

But Georgie believed her husband had a drinking problem. "He's a binge drinker," she says over lunch at a restaurant in Lake Oswego, a Portland suburb she moved to last December after 23 years in Washington. "A binge drinker is someone who drinks sporadically, but when they do, they can't stop, and it alters their personality."

Georgie noticed how his body language altered, his voice grew louder; in the privacy of their home, he would cruelly berate her. Knowing his father had ended his career as a falling-down drunk, Georgie urged her husband for years to get treatment. Before his 1980 re-election campaign, she convinced him to meet with a professional counselor, a family friend who recommended he visit an alchoholism specialist. The Senator met with the specialist and reported back to Georgie: "I am not an alcoholic. I have what is called a drinking problem." He seemed relieved by the distinction.

Two years later, Packwood collapsed in a hotel room in San Francisco and was rushed to the hospital. His staff befogged the media with a release attributing the collapse to an intestinal virus, but the doctor told Georgie the real problem: the Senator had been drinking heavily and become dehydrated. He was en route to South Korea with a trade delegation and it fell to her to ask his Oregon colleague, Senator Mark O. Hatfield, to fill in at the last minute.

"I'm an enabler," Georgie says of the times she covered up for her husband's slips. "It's natural to do for people you love, but then when you're in public life, you want to protect him doubly from all the probing. It goes on and on. I used to marvel at it when I went to the Senate wives' lunch the First Lady gives every year at the White House. There'd be a roomful of capable and bright, loving, devoted women -- a whole get-together of enablers."

Shortly before the 1984 Presidential primaries, Packwood gathered his closest advisers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to explore a possible bid for the White House. Georgie believed her husband had much to give. But privately she told him she couldn't support him unless he quit drinking. He flew into a rage. "'You don't want me to be President!' " she recalls him shouting. "'You're just an albatross around my neck. If you're going to make me stop drinking, I'll leave you.'"

Georgie retreated to her familiar stance as the passive, dutiful wife. "I thought, 'He's such a success -- after all, a U.S. Senator -- he must be right; I must learn to accept more of his irregular behavior,'" she says, tears welling up in her eyes. "I just had to dig in and make this thing work and keep on trying harder."


During Packwood's 1986 re-election bid, fresh rumors reached Georgie about her husband's womanizing, this time linking him to his campaign manager, Elaine Franklin. Known for being a tough and efficient administrator, Franklin had risen through the ranks after starting as a volunteer in Packwood's Portland office. Georgie had noticed the relationship between her husband and his aide; they bantered easily back and forth, and when they traveled they had adjoining motel rooms. (Franklin, who has previously called the rumors of romantic ties between her and the Senator "outrageous," declined to comment.)

After he had won re-election, Georgie told her husband it was time for Elaine Franklin to go. But instead he promoted her, bringing her to Washington as his new chief of staff.

Georgie began spending long depressive hours in bed. At a Washington dinner party, the Senator got drunk and belittled her, to the embarrassment of other guests. The Packwoods left abruptly, and once in the car the Senator passed out.
When he woke up, he began soliloquizing out of the blue about his father's failures.

Reluctantly, he agreed to visit a marriage counselor with Georgie in the fall of 1989. Their son Bill, now 26, and daughter Shyla, 22, also attended some sessions. But it soon became apparent that the Senator's real goal was not to keep the family together but to find a way out. "'I don't want any responsibility,'" Georgie remembers him saying. "'I don't want a wife. I don't want a home. I only want to be a Senator. That's all there is for me.'"

His son replied: "Dad, you say you only want to be a Senator now, but someday you'll be defeated. Where will everyone be then? We're your three best friends."

Packwood said that for him there was no life outside the Senate. He moved out of their family house in Bethesda, Md., on his son's birthday in January 1990. Bill was devastated. Later that year, the Senator sued for divorce, and in January 1991 the marriage was dissolved.

"When he left," says Georgie, "I asked him, 'Are you going to marry Elaine?' He said, 'No. I have thought about it and rejected the idea. She's far too tough for me.' "

ALTHOUGH PACKWOOD INITIALLY said that he would not dispute his accusers' accounts, he reversed field within two months. In interviews with Oregon reporters in January, he indicated his accusers could expect a tough cross-examination by his lawyers in front of the Ethics Committee. He has hired the influential Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter and quietly raised from political supporters a defense fund of more than $220,000.

He also plans to rely on character witnesses like a former staff member, Karen B. Phillips, now a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, who questions the seriousness of his alleged misconduct. "I'm not sure I would call his behavior sexual harassment," says Phillips, who worked for Packwood from 1982 to 1988. "What is sexual harassment? To me, it's always been where there was a potential for retribution. From everything his accusers have alleged, if someone said no that was the end of it."

Although the Packwood investigation is not a legal proceeding, the Ethics Committee will no doubt frame its deliberations within the scope of the Federal law prohibiting sexual harassment. So what does the law say about the Senator's alleged behavior?

Under guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1980 and unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1986, there are two types of sexual harassment: sex for job favors and the creation of a "hostile working environment." Sex for job favors, also known as quid pro quo, is relatively straightforward. Hostile environment cases are harder to define and include the gray-zone behavior that has lead to rancorous debates around the water coolers and across the kitchen tables of America. Is displaying a centerfold a form of harassment? Is writing love letters to a fellow worker?

Packwood's defenders argue that his advances fall short of sexual harassment because he never punished anyone for refusing him; he was merely inviting a woman to enter a consensual relationship.

But according to Paul Grossman, the co-author of the American Bar Association's standard text on employment discrimination, the absence of retribution is not an adequate defense. "Involuntary French kisses with tongues involved is not a mere innocuous invitation to enter into a relationship," says Grossman. "You can't go grabbing people against their will, kissing them and holding their hair."


While it's true there are some gray areas in the law, Packwood's critics contend that his behavior, as alleged, doesn't fall into any of them; it's clearly sexual harassment. Still, some Senators on the Ethics Committee and lawyers holding Packwood's brief can be expected to look beyond the legal definitions and argue his behavior was not so serious; he understood that no meant no.

Yet they would be obliged to consider the experience of Paige Wagers. In 1975, Wagers was a 21-year-old mail clerk in Packwood's office. After being summoned by the Senator into his office, Wagers recalls, Packwood closed his door and suddenly embraced her. He then pulled back her long blond hair and stuck his tongue into her mouth. Wagers, a graduate of Lafayette College working her first job, remembers struggling to escape while Packwood whispered how much he liked her wholesome good looks and innocent manner. He finally let go and she left in tears.

When Wagers told friends and co-workers, they advised her not to quit because it was important to work in one place at least a year to get good references. Eventually, Wagers did move to a series of other Government jobs.

Six years after the initial incident, Wagers bumped into Packwood on Capitol Hill. She had just landed a dream job at the Department of Labor and, she recalls, the Senator greeted her heartily and told her to call on him if she needed help. He suggested she stroll with him back to his office and tell him all about her new job on the way. "I was feeling very proud of myself," says Wagers. "I actually knew a U.S. Senator I could count on. I'd never really had a job with responsibility like that. It was going to be great."

As they walked along a basement corridor beneath the Capitol, Packwood opened the door to an empty office. Pulling Wagers inside, the Senator moved toward a couch and swept its pillows away. Wagers recalls pleading with him to stop, speaking in a firm but soothing voice. "This was much more threatening," she says. "We were in the basement of the Capitol. I didn't want him to get angry and start ripping my clothes off."

Eventually Packwood let her go, but the painful memory remains intense. "I thought, 'Paige, how could you let this happen?' " Wagers says. "He totally sucked me in because of all the flattering things he said to make me trust him. At that moment, I died inside. I was humiliated. I wasn't even human to him. I was like a dog, someone who couldn't possibly have feelings."


A recommendation of expulsion, the most serious penalty the Ethics Committee could impose on Packwood, is unlikely; the only Senators ever expelled were judged guilty of felonies or treason. The committee could ask the full Senate to censure Packwood, with a possible loss of seniority -- a serious blow to a politician so consumed with his role as a lord of the Senate. The most lenient penalty would be a reprimand, entailing no loss of privileges. Or conceivably Packwood could be cleared of wrongdoing.

Though Packwood will almost surely survive and retain his Senate seat, the damage is likely to be long-lasting. He once said he wanted to be in the Senate until he had outdone the seven-term Strom Thurmond, but he shows signs of conceding his career is over. This spring he put up for sale his only Oregon property, a trailer on 20 acres south of Portland, leaving him homeless in the state he represents. On a visit to the state over the July 4th holiday, he was forced into a "stealth tour," addressing only friendly business groups and giving the news media scant notice of his appearances to lessen the risk of demonstrators. He refuses to speak to The Oregonian, the state's largest newspaper.

All this must be a devastating blow for a man to whom the Senate is a be-all and end-all, who's now cut himself off from almost everything else, even family life. Georgie Packwood, who says her former husband is obsessed with his place in history, is, in the end, sympathetic. She believes he's a decent man who became subtly intoxicated by power.

"We went to Washington together," she says. "I thought we were going to make some improvements. To me that's why you acquire power, to improve the lot of people whose lot needs improving. But it's a corrupting system. Maybe not because you take money under the table, but ethically and morally it can be corrupting.

"It just seems to me he lost his way."

Photos: Packwood got an earful during a statewide tour early this year, his first since allegations of sexual harassment became public. (Don Ryan/Associated Press)(pg. 30); Three accusers. From left, Gena Hutton, Julie Williamson and Gillian Butler. (Robbie McClaran for The New York Times); The Packwood family in 1971. (Jim Vincent/The Oregonian)(pg. 32); A moment of solitude in February. (Joe Wilkins 3d/The (Eugene, Ore.) Register-Guard); Georgie Packwood leaving court after her divorce trial in 1991. (Photograph by Dana E. Olsen/The Oregonian)(pg. 38)

Trip Gabriel is a frequent contributor to this magazine.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:09 am

The Fall of Al Franken
by Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
December 16, 2017

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[Transcribed by Tara Carreon]

[Steve Skrovan] You know, in the past 2 months, the list of men across politics, entertainment, media, and industry, who have been losing their jobs over sexual harassment charges, is stunning. Maybe even more stunning, are the few men who have managed to keep their jobs, despite the overwhelming testimony against them. I think you know who I’m talking about. In politics, sexual harassment has no party. Two of the most prominent progressive democratic politicians, John Conyers in the House, and Al Franken in the Senate, have been particularly disappointing to partisans. And here to talk about Al Franken’s fall from grace, is our next guest.

[David Feldman] Mark Green is a former Nader’s Raider, who ran Public Citizen’s Congress Watch program for 10 years. After that, he went on to found his own public interest organization, “The New Democracy Project.” In addition, he was elected as New York City’s first public advocate. An author and radio and TV commentator, Mark’s latest book, which we have talked about previously on this show, is entitled, “Bright Infinite Future: A Generational Memoir on the Progressive Rise.” Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Mark Green.

[Mark Green] I’m so delighted. Thank you.

[Ralph] Yeah, welcome back, Mark. I’m looking at a headline in a Minneapolis paper, and it reads this way: “Franken’s rapid ouster from Senate prompts backlash among his Minnesota supporters.” What’s amazing about the article is, it includes Republicans; not only Democrats, men and women active in Franken’s party, but also the former Republican governor of Minnesota spoke out, Governor Arlie Carlson, who was the governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999. He said, “I am deeply troubled by the resignation of Al Franken, and the complete absence of anything resembling due process.” And also, the general counsel, Emily Martin, to the National Women’s Law Center, came out saying, “Of course we want zero tolerance, but there are different gradations to the levels of harassment, and the punishment should not always be the same.” And just very recently, in a New York Times piece, Professor of Law Fordham Law School, Zephyr Teachout, has an op-ed headed by the title, “I’m Unconvinced Franken Should Quit.” And she said, “Zero tolerance should go hand-in-hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on the social media.” And she continues saying, “Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond. And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.”

Now, Mark Green, you’ve had a lot of experience with politicians, with the Senate Ethics Committee, and you know Al Franken. What’s your take here? Is he railroaded out of the Senate? Or is he out of the Senate? To our knowledge, we don’t know whether he has actually signed the letter of resignation.

[Mark Green] Allow me just to throw clearing comments, and I want to answer your good question, Ralph.

First, bigger than even the Senate and the process issues, is the huge social upheaval that men cannot just get away willy-nilly with abusing their power in the workplace. This is the biggest change socially since women went into the workplace in the 60’s, and into public office in the 80’s and 90’s.

Second, if I may Ralph, you and I will be the last two men standing. I know this for a fact. As for Franken, he’s a great senator. A brilliant guy, with great values. And seven women said he had done things, like goosing them at state fairs. But if you take the zero tolerance view, which is what Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has gotten famous for now, she said, “If you have to ask where is the line, you’re asking the wrong question.” Well, excuse me. Now, murderers get due process as you Ralph once mentioned to me. So we need a process where instead of its just ad-hoc, vigilante verdicts, and enough of your colleagues say you should leave so you should leave, we should have a standard which was true for Republican Senator Packwood of Oregon 20 years ago. The Senate Ethics Committee studied the 18 accusations against him over 20 years, found they were true, and voted in a bipartisan way, 6-0, he should be expelled. The next day he quit. That’s due process.

“She is the war on women, as far as I’m concerned, because with every woman that she’s found out about—and she made it a point to find out who every woman had been that’s crossed his path over the years—she’s orchestrated a terror campaign against every one of these women, including me,” said Willey.

One of those women was Juanita Broaddrick, who says Hillary Clinton threatened her in person two weeks after she claimed Bill Clinton raped her.

Hillary’s aggressive attitude was not limited to those who accused her husband of sexual misconduct: other men received the benefit of the doubt from Hillary when she needed their support politically. When former Sen. Bob Packwood was accused of sexual harassment, Clinton told her friend Blair that she was “tired of all those whiney [whiny] women,” and that she needed Packwood on health care.

Hillary has also suggested that Bill’s problems with women are the fault of a woman: his mother.

Clinton attempted to explain to Lucinda Franks that Bill’s infidelity is rooted in his abused childhood, stating during an interview that he was abused and that “when a mother does what she does, it affects you forever.”

-- Hillary Clinton’s Long History of Targeting Women, by Brent Scher


So, there is a difference. I’m making this up, but were I a senator, and someone said, “Oh, Mark Green in college once misunderstood a woman and made a pass that he shouldn’t have.” Okay, bad on me. Is that really the same thing as Roy Moore or Donald Trump? Should all of that lead to expulsion? The answer is no. And to speak of someone who once did file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee in 1989 against Senator Al D’Amato, who I ran against for consistent corruption, two years later the Senate Ethics Committee didn’t vote to expel him, it didn’t vote to censure him, but it did vote to reprimand him. In other words, you should scale, and let the punishment fit the crime, rather than a knee-jerk, “everyone’s the same.”

[Ralph Nader] We’ve discovered in the last few days, and I’m talking about several people in my office, and I think you have had the same experience, that it’s impossible to get through to the Senate Ethics Committee. Imagine that. Just to get through to talk to anybody, to see whether they are closing down the investigation of Al Franken -- which includes his full cooperation by the way -- because of his proposed resignation, or whether they are going to continue it to completion. We can’t find out as of this program.

Number 2, I haven’t been able to get through to Senator Franken’s office, or his offices in Minnesota, to talk to either a staff person or Senator Franken, to ask him to clarify the ambiguity in his statement on the Senate floor when he said he will resign in a few weeks. Well, does that mean he’s waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee? Does that mean he is putting off his letter of resignation? It’s just not clear. And you haven’t been able to get through either, have you?

[Mark Green] I called the Senate Ethics Committee, gave them my name, explained that I was a public interest lawyer interested in the matter, and that I had once filed a petition with the Senate Ethics Committee successfully, but I got no call back. You’d think they would know, and have a bright-line rule: if a Senator quits first, does that end the Senate Ethics Committee, or does it not end it? And you know, a public policy could go either way. You would think they would know. They haven’t told either of us, and probably not anyone else.

[Ralph Nader] Well, one of my associates called Senator Johnny Isakson, who is the chair -- he’s the senator in Georgia who is the chair of the Senate Ethics Committee. He couldn’t even get through to a human being. He got a voice mail. This is all part of a bigger subject we’re going to discuss in our show, Mark, that Congress has never been more incommunicado. They have got a force field now between them and the American people who are just trying to call, if the callers have not made financial contributions to the senator or representative’s campaign. So this is a serious issue. What would you advise Senator Franken to do now?

[Mark Green] Well, I’m sensitive about this, Ralph. Let me admit this: I’m friends with Al, in that I ran for the Senate in 1986 from New York with Franken’s big support, and I lost. He ran for the Senate in Minnesota with my support in New York, and he won. I always joked with Al, “I guess my support meant more than your support.” So I know this is a very personal decision. And so of course, based on his statement, he should be, and is, a bit bitter that men with far more egregious cases, proven, than have been proven against him, they are still in the Senate or the White House, and he’s out.

He should also be concerned with the possibility that he was railroaded out because of a group effect. What happens, not only if someone is charged with making a stupid, frivolous bad conduct decades ago on a one-time basis – not in the workplace, not in the Senate – what happens if James O’Keefe or Roger Stone Jr. goad someone into making a false accusation to get rid of a Democratic member? That’s not conspiratorial. Of course, those two made a history of doing that.

And by the way, 5-7% of all women who charge sexual impropriety, harassment, predation, aren’t telling the truth. 95% are telling the truth. So I’m not saying, “Don’t trust women,” I’m saying, “Listen, private marketplace, you make your own judgment.” When dealing with an elected official, you need a process, because to force him or her out overturns a democratic election!

[David Feldman rudely interrupting] He wasn’t forced out! He quit!

[Ralph Nader] Here’s the case for Senator Franken, if I can speak for him. He showed deep contrition and apologized. He did say that some of the accusations described situations that he didn’t remember that way, but he indicated that he was fooling around inappropriately. And of course, one of the accusers has it on video, because he was literally looking at the camera grinning over her on a USO tour abroad. This was before he was a senator. And you mentioned Roger Stone. And people don’t know who Roger Stone is: he is a militant supporter of Donald Trump. And he seemed to know about the first accuser’s accusation before she made it the following day. Isn’t that right?

[Mark Green] That’s right. That’s on the record. The day before the first accuser went public, Roger Stone tweeted, “Franken’s next in the barrel.”

[Ralph Nader] Anyway, getting back to Senator Franken, he did show deep contrition. He gave immediate cooperation to the Senate Ethics Committee. And then, in one day, he went from a half a dozen Democratic senators accusing him, to 12, to 16, to 20, to 38. It was like a stampede. And it really offended a lot of women and men lawyers around the country in terms of the lack of due process. In fact, Larry Tribe, the famous constitutional lawyer from Harvard Law School, agreed with the position that Professor Teachout wrote in the New York Times.

But looking ahead, we have a situation now where the Democrats may be jeopardizing the Senate seat. Because in 2018, the Republicans emboldened by the departure we assume of Senator Franken, are going to try to put forward the former governor, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, to run for the senate. So it might have cost them a senate seat in a very, very closely divided senate between Republicans and Democrats. It would be nice on this program if we knew whether Senator Franken was waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee to come out with its report, because he said he would resign in a few weeks, which could be 7, 8, 9, 10 weeks, or whether the Senate Ethics Committee is going to close down. And can you imagine, as citizens and voters, we can’t even get through to those two offices.

[Mark Green] Well, Franken has a very tough judgment to make. Someone interrupted, “Oh, he voluntarily quit.” That’s “voluntary” like a robber points a gun at me and says, “It’s either your money or your life.” You know, he was forced out politically.

[David Feldman rudely interrupting] Oh, oh, oh – I’m sorry to interrupt! I’m getting angry! Do you mind if I –

[Ralph Nader] This is David Feldman.

[David Feldman] You’re saying it stops at 8. I say that if there are 8 we know of, there are a lot more. And you know the way this works more than I do. I would assume he was called in by somebody in the Democratic leadership, probably Schumer, who said, “Look, I want to spare you and Frannie, your wife, the embarrassment, but if you stay, there are going to be a lot more women coming forward.

[Mark Green] Now, you’re guessing at that.

[David Feldman] But that’s the way it works, though! That’s the way it works, doesn’t it?

[Ralph Nader] It doesn’t obviate due process, David. You’ve made a political comment that he basically quit. What do you say, Mark Green?

[Mark Green] Well, he has some options; not many. He could say, “Screw it; I resigned under pressure; I haven’t signed the papers yet. I’m allowed to run in 2018, and we’ll see where this whole issue settles out.” I think that’s unlikely, because then he’d be running against an unelected but sitting female senator that Governor Mark Dayton has already appointed. But this will all settle out in a way, and I hope it’s with two things happening: men in private and public workplaces stop assuming that they can act like pigs and get away with it. I think that’s happening. But second, have one standard for both parties. It’s procedurally offensive – I know the word “procedure” makes everyone’s mind shut down -- but it’s a hell of a political procedural thing if one party reacts to two, three allegations -- maybe they were a while ago; maybe not; maybe it’s at a state fair goofing around; maybe it’s rape -- while the other party denies everything.

The odds that 20 women were all making it up against Donald Trump – I did the math based on only 5-7% are lying -- it’s 99.999% likely one or more of the women are telling the truth. Yet Trump says, “they’re all lying.” And a President is different, because there’s an impeachment process –

[Ralph Nader] No, it’s the point I made two weeks ago that if Nancy Pelosi demanded that John Conyers resign, she should have demanded that President Trump resign, because he’s still the worst exploiter on the record so far.

Forced her against a wall and abruptly kissed her, forcing his tongue into her mouth …
Grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth …
Slid his fingers under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh and touched her vagina through her underwear …
Came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me toward him,” she said. “He then grabbed my shoulder and started kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.” He kept pursuing her, she said, at one point “thrusting his genitals” against her as he tried to kiss her …
I felt a grab, a little nudge … I turn around and there’s Donald ..
Pursued her and groped her … had “his hands all over me”…
Lifted the armrest and began to touch her … grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” Leeds said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Kissed her directly on the lips … again embraced and kissed her on the lips …
Grabbed her arm and touched her breast …
Kissed her on the lips …
Grabbed her bottom …
“Grabbed” her and two other unnamed women tightly and kissed them on the lips …

-- President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list, by Meg Kelly


Touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of Marion Brown and other female staffers on multiple occasions …
Referred to us as the "Big Leg Cousins" …
Came out of the bathroom completely naked while he knew I was in the room …
Slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs while I was sitting next to him in the front row of a church …
"That S.O.B. just wanted me to have sex with him!" …
Regularly undressed in front of female office staff …
Came out of his private bathroom in his underwear …

-- Conyers allegations: Ex-staffer says congressman ‘inappropriately touched’ her, by Rachel Elbaum


[Mark Green] If I may, what I just said was there should be a process. And I’m guessing Nancy Pelosi, who has great sway over sitting members, chairs like Conyers for example, has very little, if any sway, over Donald Trump. So she could have said, “Franken and Conyers should quit only if Trump does,” and Trump wouldn’t even respond. Maybe he’d send an early morning tweet. She has no leverage over him. In fact, constitutionally, there’s impeachment when a number of Republicans aren’t moving. So we have this quandary of, “How many is enough? Who decides?” And I’d love to see a change where each Ethics Committee has a subcommittee. You know, like there are general criminal courts, and there are special drug courts. Because drug use is both a medical and a criminal matter. And there are enough of them, so they set up a special court with speedy due process rules, speedy trials. Well, how about a subcommittee dedicated to this issue -- because there are going to be dozens more accusations -- where within 90 days they have to investigate the people under oath and rule? And if it’s one stupid thing a decade ago, you are reprimanded. If it’s a minor pattern, you’re censure. And if it’s Packwood, or Senator Trump, you’re expelled. I think that’s fair, but that system does not now exist.

Reeled me around and grabbed me and pulled me close to him." For an instant, she thought he was offering a good-night hug. But then the Senator planted a full kiss on her lips, wriggling his tongue into her mouth … he tried to talk her into coming inside …
Approached her and, without uttering a word, stood on her feet, pulled back her ponytail with one hand and tried to yank down her girdle with the other. Williamson escaped his grasp and fled the room. Stalking past her, he said, "If not today, some other day." …
Unexpectedly leaned across the front desk of the Red Lion and kissed her on the lips. "… On another occasion, the Senator followed her into a luggage closet and kissed her again on the lips …
Closed his door and suddenly embraced her. He then pulled back her long blond hair and stuck his tongue into her mouth. Wagers, a graduate of Lafayette College working her first job, remembers struggling to escape while Packwood whispered how much he liked her wholesome good looks and innocent manner. He finally let go and she left in tears …
Opened the door to an empty office. Pulling Wagers inside, the Senator moved toward a couch and swept its pillows away. Wagers recalls pleading with him to stop, speaking in a firm but soothing voice. "This was much more threatening," she says. "We were in the basement of the Capitol. I didn't want him to get angry and start ripping my clothes off." Eventually Packwood let her go …

-- The Trials Of Bob Packwood, by Trip Gabriel


[Ralph Nader] Just to complete the record here, the due process for President Trump is impeachment. Over 60 members of the House have already supported an impeachment resolution.

And second, the other due process, is lawsuits by the accusing women under tort law. And there is already one woman who has sued Trump for defamation under tort law.

So everybody deserves, obviously, due process. But it’s an unfinished story. And I think Senator Franken owes the public more clarity in terms of what he really intends to do, and when. And above all, the Senate Ethics Committee should open their telephone lines, and let the American people know what they plan to do. I have never experienced this kind of blackout by an ethics committee, of all names. They should be setting the standard.

On that note, Mark Green, we have to conclude. We’re out of time. We’ve been speaking with Mark Green, whose most recent book -- very, very well done -- that teaches us a lot about progressive movements and opposition to them is called, “Bright Infinite Future.” It’s extremely readable, and I urge you all to absorb its lessons in the coming political battles ahead. Thank you very much Mark.

[Mark Green] Thank you, Ralph.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:23 am

Peter Jackson says Weinsteins blacklisted Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino; Harvey Weinstein disagrees
by Nardine Saad
Dec. 15, 2017, 12:17 p.m.

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Image
Filmmaker Peter Jackson. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

After director Peter Jackson publicized his suspicion that actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino were blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced producer has denied the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker’s accusations.

According to Jackson, the actresses had been chosen to star in his “Lord of the Rings” franchise when it was still under the umbrella of Weinstein’s Miramax studio, but contended that Weinstein intervened in the late 1990s.

“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson told New Zealand’s Stuff on Thursday.

“At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us — but in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing,” he said. "I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list.”


"I remember this well,” Judd tweeted Thursday night in response to Jackson’s interview.

“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Sorvino tweeted on Friday. “There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I’m just heartsick.”

ashley judd

@AshleyJudd
Peter & Fran had me in - showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything. They asked which if the two roles I preferred, and then I abruptly never heard from hem again. I appreciate the truth coming out. Thank you, Peter. https://twitter.com/variety/status/941763543447171072
1:34 PM - Dec 15, 2017


ashley judd

@AshleyJudd
I remember this well. https://twitter.com/rt_falconer/status/ ... 7158896640
10:09 PM - Dec 14, 2017


Mira Sorvino

@MiraSorvino
Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying. There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I’m just heartsick https://twitter.com/rt_falconer/status/ ... 7158896640
8:20 AM - Dec 15, 2017


In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Friday, Weinstein rebutted Jackson’s account, explaining how Miramax lost the project to New Line Cinema, and refuted the notion that Judd and Sorvino were blacklisted.

“Mr. Weinstein has nothing but the utmost respect for Peter Jackson. However, as Mr. Jackson will probably remember, because [Miramax parent company] Disney would not finance the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Miramax lost the project and all casting was done by New Line,” the statement said.

“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” it continued.

“Until Ashley Judd wrote a piece for Variety two years ago, no one at the Company knew that she had a complaint and she was cast in two other films by Mr. Weinstein [‘Frida’ and ‘Crossing Over’] and Mira Sorvino was always considered for other films as well,” the statement said. “There was no indication that Mira Sorvino had any issues until Mr. Weinstein read about the complaints in the news.”

Image
“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Mira Sorvino tweeted Friday in response to Peter Jackson's comments. (Chris Pizzello / Invision)

The statement also said that as recently as this year, Sorvino called Weinstein to ask if her husband, Christopher Backus, could be part of the “SEAL” television series he was producing. Weinstein said he cast him but allowed Backus “to amicably break his contact” to pursue a different opportunity.

Judd was among the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of harassment this year, detailing encounters with the mogul and rebuffing his alleged advances in the New York Times story that broke the scandal wide open in October. Sorvino was also among the scores of accusers who detailed Weinstein’s alleged misconduct in the avalanche of accounts that followed.

Three-time Oscar winner Jackson, who described Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, as “behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies,” also said he feuded with the studio about the number of films in the franchise and has chosen not to work with the brothers since.
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Re: Harvey Weinstein: 'Beautiful Girls' Scribe Scott Rosenbe

Postby admin » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:54 am

CNN host left speechless as ex-Fox News analyst breaks her confidentiality agreement and exposes Rupert Murdoch
by Tom Boggioni
17 December 2017 AT 12:28 ET

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Image
Tamara Holder on CNN

CNN media expert Brian Stelter was left with little to say Sunday morning after a former Fox News personality used media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s comments about her to break her confidentiality agreement and blow the lid off of the pervasive atmosphere of sexual assault at the conservative news outlet.

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, legal analyst Tamara Holder said since she was pushed out at Fox for reporting sexual assault she has been unable to find another media job and that she is not alone among other women who were forced out at the network.

“Fox News ruined people’s lives,” an impassioned Holder explained. “He [Murdoch] ruined my life. I don’t have a job in TV anymore because the place that he has secured down like Fort Knox allowed abusive predators to work. That is not nonsense, this is people’s lives. He said it wasn’t just Roger Ailes. Well, we don’t need to name names, we know it wasn’t just Roger. He said ‘nothing more since then’ — that’s a lie. We also know that Bill O’Reilly paid $30 million plus to somebody and, of course, they rehired him after that.”


“He says there are cases that amounted to flirting,” she continued. “Let me be clear. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. That was not flirting. — that was criminal. That was not sexual harassment. I’m not the only case, there are women who can’t speak out.”

“Either Mr. Murdoch is a liar or he’s delusional and old and needs to get out,” she stated. “If you’re an investor, you need to decide, do you want your money with a man who has continued to lie to you for the past 20 years, your money, hundreds of millions of dollars of your money has gone to women over and over and over again, and we’ve been told that we have to shut up.”

“I want to be on TV talking about the things that — we want to talk about what we were paid to talk about on TV,” Holder continued. “For me, it was law. I had a sports show. But I’m stuck here, talking about this, because there are people like Rupert Murdoch who continue to deny that we were abused, that we were — our careers were destroyed, our lives were destroyed. And this is not political, this is people’s lives.”


Watch the video below via CNN:

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