PAUL’S ACCUSER CLARIFIES, BUT STORY’S LARGELY THE SAME…. Yesterday, Rand Paul, the extremist Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, appeared on Fox News, at least in part to address the interest in the “Aqua Buddha” matter. As the story goes, a fellow student told GQ Paul allegedly kidnapped a fellow student, tried to force her to take bong hits, and forced her to participate in a bizarre ritual involving an “Aqua Buddha,” which Paul apparently worshiped, at least while high.

Paul refused to go into any details, but during the Fox News interview, he repeatedly denied having been part of any kidnapping.

Today, Greg Sargent talked to the woman who shared the anecdote in the first place. She said she didn’t mean to imply she was kidnapped “in a legal sense,” but the crux of the story seems to be largely the same.

“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she told me. “They didn’t force me, they didn’t make me. They were creating this drama: ‘We’re messing with you.’”

The woman said that much of the subsequent coverage of her allegations missed a key nuance: As a participant in a college ritual, where lines between acquiescence and victimization are often blurry, she was largely playing along with the notion that she was being forced to follow Paul’s orders.

“I went along because they were my friends,” she said. “There was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing. I felt like I was being hazed.”

Even in the GQ article, there was no sense that this woman had been part of some kind of violent assault. Reading it, one got the impression that Paul and a buddy, high as a kite, thought it’d be funny to pull some stupid stunt with a friend from the swim team.

In her remarks to Greg, that version seems entirely intact. As she explained it, Paul tied her up, took her to his apartment, and encouraged her to take bong hits, but she wasn’t literally forced to do drugs. As for the even sillier part, Paul and his friend really did take her “out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.” The whole thing screams “inane hazing ritual.”

After the incident, the woman apparently decided she didn’t want to be friends with Rand Paul anymore. Imagine that.

So, what have we learned? Other than the fact that Paul is kind of a strange guy? That he was engaged in a stupid college prank involving drugs and faux-Buddhism.

I still don’t know why the bizarre candidate didn’t just issue a statement from the outset: “Like a lot of people, I was part of some silly stunts as a teenager, but I certainly never hurt anyone. This was all a long time ago and I’ve matured since.”

In any case, this seems to be petering out, and probably won’t change many votes anyway. Rest assured, though, Paul’s bound to get caught up in some mess again fairly soon. Maybe someone can ask him if he considers the Third Amendment anti-military or something.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.