Ending Retaliation against Survivors, Reckoning with Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal Highlight Sen. L’italien’s Broad-based Sexual Misconduct Accountability Platform

By Theresa Gilman
Your Dracut Today
September 3, 2018

State senator and congressional candidate Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), an outspoken supporter for survivors of sexual assault, has become the first candidate in the Third Congressional District race to outline a broad-based, detailed plan of action to hold more perpetrators of sexual misconduct culpable. L’Italien is committing to pursue a combination of systemic policy change and direct action to address past crimes.

Among the key planks of her platform is ending the culture of impunity at the highest levels of government. Senator L’Italien will request and advocate for a congressional hearing into the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump, giving the women he targeted the opportunity to share their stories under oath. She will also file an impeachment resolution against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for committing perjury in the face of Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment, and work to build support for it among her colleagues.

“There is an elephant in the room for Congress in the #MeToo era. Our leaders have to start talking about it. Two of the most powerful men in the country have been credibly accused of sexual crimes and gotten away with it. If we’re serious about changing things, that can’t stand unchallenged,” L’Italien said. “Laws cracking down on sexual assault have to be signed by a president who multiple women say assaulted them. Regulations to stop sexual harassment can be struck down by a Supreme Court justice who lied under oath to counter allegations of sexual harassment. Why would victims think a government like that is looking out for them?”

“I know I’m stepping beyond what’s easy to achieve. But it’s frightening to me how we talk about these two men without talking about these many allegations. If I can do anything to change that, I will. It’s wrong, and I refuse to act like it’s normal.”

Senator L’Italien’s legislative platform will focus on strengthening accountability throughout our justice system. She will work to hold offenders liable in public office, the private sector, in the church and in the military; protect vulnerable populations like seniors, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and Native Americans; better enforce rules against retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace; and push for a federal commitment to clear the backlog of untested rape kits within five years.

“In the last year, we have finally started to recognize how commonplace sexual assault and sexual harassment are in our society. We’re acknowledging how much more we need to do to bring wrongdoing to light and perpetrators to justice,” said L’Italien. “This cultural change must be supported by a change in our laws. People in power need to stop waiting until the public gets outraged to do their jobs and start actively supporting victims. I believe that’s part of my duty in elected office.”

L’Italien has taken a leadership role in taking on sexual misconduct in the state legislature. She was the first state senator to call for Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) to step down during the investigation into how he handled his husband Byron Hefner’s sexual harassment, and the first state senator to call on him to resign after the Senate report concluded he had not taken adequate steps to stop his abuses.

She was also the only female legislator to stand with Rep. Diana DiZoglio when she revealed her story of being forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a legislative aide and called for an end to those agreements in the state legislature.

L’Italien is the only female candidate within striking distance of winning the Democratic nomination in the Third District, and is the only candidate in the race with the endorsement of national women’s groups. Both the National Women’s Political Caucus and Maria’s List are backing her.

L’Italien’s platform includes addressing sexual misconduct:

Wherever It Happens:

Committing the federal government to whatever actions are necessary to clear the backlog of untested rape kits within five years.

Better enforcing laws that protect employees who report sexual harassment in the workplace from retaliation.

In Public Office:

Formally requesting and advocating with her colleagues for a congressional hearing into the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump in which his accusers can testify under oath.

Filing and building support for an impeachment resolution against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for perjury during his confirmation hearings.

Joining efforts to require members of Congress to cover the cost of their own settlements for sexual misconduct, stopping the burden from falling on the taxpayers.

Against Vulnerable Populations:

Strengthening reporting of and enforcement against sexual abuse in nursing homes.

Stepping in to stop the Trump administration from dissuading immigrant and refugee women from seeking safety and protection.

Working with the LGBTQ community to better support them in addressing the high rates of sexual violence they face.

Devoting resources to lowering the epidemic rates of sexual assaults against Native Americans.

In the Private Sector:

Joining efforts to end forced arbitration agreements that allow corporations to shield sexual harassers in their ranks.

In The Church:

Setting up a national commission to investigate institutional responses to child sex abuse in the wake of the unacceptable failures of the Catholic Church and other institutions to keep kids safe.

In The Military:

Joining efforts to fix flaws in how the military justice system handles sexual assault cases by backing Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act.

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