Stop Asking Me to Vote for Accused Sexual Predators.
by Angelica Duenas, Mom, Wife, Daughter, Activist, Survivor, Congressional Candidate
Because I am a Democratic candidate for Congress and a survivor of sexual assault, I am calling for Joe Biden to drop out of the presidential race. Through the strength and courage of so many others who have shared their stories, I am ready to share my own #MeToo story.
I am a wife and a mother of five, raised in the East San Fernando Valley, helping to support my elderly parents. I have been an active citizen in my community for many years and am running for Congress in California’s 29th Congressional District. And I am a survivor.
I was molested and raped as a child by a family member starting at 3 years old. I was molested by a friend’s mom when I was 9. At 16, I was seduced and taken advantage of by my older boss. These experiences were traumatic and life-altering. I was told to keep quiet and not make a fuss, to get over it and move on with my life. This is the culture that we still live in. We continue to enable rape and sexually predatory behavior of all kinds. I was taught that making a fuss won’t change the past. But now we have an opportunity to shape the future, and I am done being asked to vote for accused sexual predators.
Like all of us, I have witnessed many scandals involving politicians and predatory sexual behavior. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, there were fifteen allegations of sexual harassment within the California State Legislature. Also in 2018, my opponent, Congressman Tony Cardenas, was accused of sexual assault. The accuser, since revealed to be 29 year old Angela Chavez, said that Cardenas (a City Councilman at the time) drugged and molested her when she was 16 years old. Chavez allegedly agreed to withdraw the lawsuit last year on the condition that Cardenas not sue her in relation to anything in the original lawsuit. No further details regarding the withdrawal were provided. The victim's lawyer, Lisa Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred (one of Harvey Weinstein’s prosecutors) withdrew from the case and declined to give a reason. In the aftermath, Chavez told the Washington Post, “I’m still a victim.”
Rarely do the accusers get anything resembling justice in cases like this. Especially when they’re facing powerful men. More often than not, survivors have their reputations smeared, are relentlessly attacked, threatened, and ultimately silenced.
Just look at our current presidential election. The presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Biden, stands accused of sexual assault and harassment by a former staffer, Tara Reade. Reade says that she filed a harassment report after the worst incident in 1993, going through the appropriate Congressional channels. She told close friends, family members, and her next employer details of the alleged harassment and assault following the termination of her position on Biden's staff. She describes her resignation as the result of unbearable retaliation following her harassment report. No surprise, those records are now sealed.
Now “woke” celebrity liberals who have shed tears, begging us to #BelieveWomen, are suddenly playing judge, jury, and executioner, denying Reade exactly what they demanded for previous victims: respect, a fair hearing, and the general courtesy of assuming credibility.
Biden has emphatically denied Reade's allegations. But dozens of other women have come forward to say that Biden made them uncomfortable, including former Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who said that Biden touched her inappropriately and kissed her head at an event in 2014. Abusers have a pattern of behavior. Biden's pattern is well established.
Things are no better on the Republican side. President Trump also has a pattern of behavior. In point of fact, the current president has over 20 sexual harassment and assault allegations against him spanning decades. Without intervention, we will be forced into the 2020 election with a choice of two accused rapists.
And as a survivor, a mother, and a Democrat, I simply cannot accept these options.
It’s not too late for the Democratic Party to do the right thing. Joe Biden has NOT locked down the nomination. He does NOT have the required delegates to secure the nomination. YET. Given all of the evidence, we must undo this damage. Joe Biden must drop out, and Democrats must select a candidate who is not compromised--one who actually has a clear path to victory-- against Donald Trump. We have one chance to win this November.
Let’s not throw it away.