Catholic University dean suspended over tweets questioning a Kavanaugh accuser

A dean at the Catholic University of America has been suspended over tweets that "called into question the v...

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 8:38 PM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 8:38 PM

A dean at the Catholic University of America has been suspended over tweets that "called into question the validity of some accusations of sexual assault" against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Washington, D.C., school's president said.

Will Rainford, who has led the university's School of Social Service since 2013, was suspended for the remainder of the semester over the tweets that President John Garvey said were "unacceptable" and "demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to the victim."

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"The Catholic University of America has no position on the Kavanaugh matter," Garvey said in a statement Friday.

"But let there be no doubt that our University, and particularly our National Catholic School of Social Service, has a special concern for every victim and survivor of sexual assault."

Rainford has since deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts, but the student newspaper, The Tower, captured a screenshot of one of the posts targeting Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick.

"Swetnick is 55 y/o. Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!" Rainford wrote last week on his official university account, according to the paper.

Rainford issued an apology Thursday, saying that his tweet "unfortunately degraded" Swetnick.

"My tweet suggested that she was not a victim of sexual assault," he wrote. "I offer no excuse. It was impulsive and thoughtless and I apologize."

Swetnick is the third woman to come forward with allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.

In a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Swetnick said Kavanaugh was present at a high school party around 1982 where she was the victim of a "gang" rape. She did not identify Kavanaugh as one of her attackers. She said further that over a series of parties, she saw Kavanaugh "consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s."

Kavanaugh denied the allegations and said they were "from the 'Twilight Zone.' "

Rainford's tweets led to a protest Monday on the Washington campus.

"We should expect any opinion he expresses about sexual assault to be thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values of Catholic University, particularly in communications from the account handle @NCSSSDean," Garvey said.

"While it was appropriate for him to apologize and to delete his Twitter and Facebook accounts, this does not excuse the serious lack of judgment and insensitivity of his comments."

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