Opinion | Sexual assault allegations should be addressed

Mike Franken addresses sexual allegations after resurfaced by media.

U.S.+Senate+candidate+Mike+Franken+speaks+at+the+Iowa+Memorial+Union+in+Iowa+City+on+Wednesday%2C+March+30%2C+2022.+

Larry Phan

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken speaks at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Editor


Michael Franken, Io­wa’s Democratic candi­date for the U.S. Senate, had his name added to the long list of political figures accused of as­sault.

On Sept. 19 the Iowa Field-Report, a conserva­tive leaning publication, reported Franken was accused of sexual assault by his former cam­paign manager in March 2022, according to a Des Moines police report. The Franken campaign did not address the alle­gations until the article was published.

Time and time again, assault allegations go unaddressed until they are resurfaced by the media. Politicians need to be transparent and ad­dress assault allegations when they surface in­stead of sweeping them under the rug.

Franken was accused of assault by his for­mer campaign manager Kimberly Strope-Bog­gus. A report filed with the Des Moines Police Department alleged Franken forcibly kissed Strope-Boggus. The case was closed and filed as unfounded on April 12.

The Franken for Iowa campaign manager Ju­lie Stauch denied the allegations in an earlier statement to The Daily Iowan.

“These allegations are false. This accusation was investigated by the Des Moines Police De­partment and the Polk County Attorney’s Office who found no wrongdo­ing and closed the case as unfounded,” Stauch wrote.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that more than two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported to the police. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20 percent of survivors don’t report for fear of retaliation, 13 percent believe po­lice would not help, and 8 percent believe sexual assault is not important enough to report.

But we must recognize due process. Anyone ac­cused of a crime is inno­cent until proven guilty. In this case, Franken was not found guilty. In fact, Strope-Boggus described Franken as having no in­tent to harm her or other women he kissed.

If Franken is innocent, he should have addressed the allegations when they were first reported. This is an issue of trans­parency, and it affects campaigns everywhere.

It seems like a promi­nent political figure has allegations of assault each campaign cycle. This pertains to politi­cians from both parties, including President Joe Biden and former Presi­dent Donald Trump.

Like always, politicians will deny allegations. But why don’t politicians ad­dress allegations when they occur? Why sweep false allegations under the rug?

Political figures should be held to a higher stan­dard. No one is immune to justice when someone is accused of a crime. Even if they maintain innocence, politicians need to face the imped­ing investigation, not hide from it.

Assault allegations cannot just resurface from the media during campaign season. This current trend is not sustainable to the future of election campaigns.

Had Franken addressed allegations in March, voters could have had this in mind during the primaries. If most Democrats believed Franken, his primary would have faced no impact.

But now voters in No­vember will have to fac­tor in that Franken did not address the allega­tions when they first surfaced, harming the chance of Democrats de­feating Sen. Chuck Gras­sley.

This issue goes beyond Franken, but he should have done better.

As public servants, politicians must be transparent — even at the sake of their reputa­tion. We need to demand honesty from the people we vote in office.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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