I am not shocked that there are men out there who prey on 14-year-old girls. I’m also not shocked that a candidate running for national office preyed on a 14-year-old girl. Heck, I’m not even surprised that a man who wraps himself in evangelical Christian morality preyed on a 14-year-old girl.
What actually shocks me is that many of Roy Moore’s defenders aren’t even bothering to defend him by denying the charges that he preyed on a 14 year-old girl. Instead, they’re saying that “there’s nothing illegal or immoral here,” or that somehow it was consensual. Just to be clear, there is no such thing as “consensual” when it comes to a sexual encounter between a 32-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.
I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. After all, the most honest thing Donald Trump said while running for president was that he could shoot someone in broad daylight and his supporters wouldn’t abandon him. There are those who are comparing this story about Roy Moore to the Access Hollywood tape that caused so much of a stir in the late stages of the campaign. There is something to that comparison because an awful lot of Trump’s supporters stuck with him even though he bragged about committing sexual assault.
But as despicable as that tape was, there was another one that was released prior to the election that was even worse. It is a recording of Donald Trump talking to Howard Stern.
In an appearance on Stern’s show in December 2004, Trump initiated a conversation about actress Lindsay Lohan, who was 18 at the time.
“What do you think of Lindsay Lohan?” Trump asked Stern.
“I think she’s hot,” responded Stern…
“Now does the father wreck, does that bother you a little bit?” Trump asked later in the conversation.
“Howard feels that the father being a wreck is a good thing,” interjected co-host Robin Quivers.
“Oh yeah, because first of all, if the father’s a wreck like the way he is–” Stern said.
“Right,” said Trump.
“Can you imagine the sex with this troubled teen?” said Stern.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Trump said. “She’s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they’re always the best in bed?”
They go on to discuss why troubled teens are great in bed and Trump ends by saying, “You don’t want to be with them for long term, but for the short term there’s nothing like it.”
Those are the words of a sexual predator who preys on vulnerable teenagers. And the man who spoke them now occupies the White House because enough people didn’t care.
The pattern was the same with Roy Moore. The woman he assaulted said that her first encounter with him happened when she was waiting outside the court house with her mother for a custody hearing. In other words, it was a pretty traumatic time for her. Moore knew that, which is why he approached her mother and offered to stay with the 14-year-old so that she could avoid sitting through the hearing. He used the opportunity to get her phone number and called her to set up their subsequent meeting at his home in the woods. That fits the pattern of a sexual predator. And yet we are hearing that there is nothing illegal or immoral about that.
Has the tribalism of our politics gone so far that people are now willing to excuse the behavior of sexual predators because they’re on “our team?” Or is there more to it than that? Frankly, this wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve heard people dismiss the sexual assault of a teenager because they are old enough to consent. This story is a reminder that there is still a lot of denial in this country about what it means to be a sexual predator.