Connie Krapp: ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ Threatens the #MeToo Movement


People gather in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, to protest against Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. The woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, setting up a potentially explosive confrontation unlike any seen in decades with the future of the Supreme Court at stake. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

This guest post was submitted by Connie Krapp, a Jamestown resident who worked for a North Dakota electric cooperative for 22 years.

For only being a year old, the #MeToo movement has mounted a metamorphic case for women’s rights. We’ve all heard of careers crumbled when women came forward with tales of trauma at the hands of the perverted and powerful. While it is less clear the effect that the movement has on the everyday workplace, we do know that #MeToo has created societal awareness that unwanted sexual advances are not acceptable EVER, no matter the setting or relationship.

The movement did not begin without the non-believers. I do remember when #MeToo first surfaced, that some dismissed the magnitude of the issue, or thought accusers were crying foul, exaggerating, gossiping or whining. But as time went on, more and more big names (think Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bill Cosby) were implicated. It became comprehendible that #MeToo is not simply an ultra feminist affair, but a cause through which justice is served.

Now, still in its infancy, the nascent movement has been hijacked. #MeToo is now a political weapon, used more inappropriately than skeptics imagined. The allegations leveled against Judge Brett Kavanaugh are well communicated all over media, both conventional and social. Just as well described are the boundaries that have been crossed by those desperate to derail the Kavanaugh nomination. They support two accusers who not only cannot remember the dates or places where they were assaulted, but, to date, have not provided one single witness who can corroborate either of their stories.

But who needs evidence? Just because you are a woman, and this is the #MeToo era, you are to be believed. Politicians and media pundits alike are hysterically demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn, and the constitutional tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” has been discarded and replaced with “#Believe Women.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Politicians and media pundits alike are hysterically demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn, and the constitutional tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” has been discarded and replaced with “#Believe Women.”[/mks_pullquote]

You’d like to think it is only overzealous social justice protesters that lead that rallying cry. But congressional representatives are blazing this trail—one that defaces the constitution and makes a mockery of justice. Hawaiin Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) put men on notice a week ago with this, “I just want to say to the men of this country just shut up and step up.”

She followed up later with, “”Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely comes forward, need to be heard — but they need to be believed.” On Sunday, after Jake Tapper of CNN asked her if Kavanaugh should have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else, her reply was, “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.”

On Sunday, Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington told NBC host Chuck Todd that “I think it’s really important, in this time, in this day, that we recognize when women speak out, that we should presume that they are innocent.”

Guilty until proven innocent without a standard of proof. Is that what #MeToo advocates? That any man, no matter his actions, reputation, place or position in life, can be bombarded with opprobrious accusations without a shred of evidence or corroboration? That your son, brother, father, cousin or friend can have his life, family and career shattered by anyone with an agenda, regardless of even a minimum standard of proof?

For all the good that #MeToo has done, this is one tragic hot mess that it didn’t deserve. There are so many stories out there, so many women who are still ravaged by sexual abuse and harassment. So many opportunities for justice and healing.

If future generations of women are going to benefit from what #MeToo has started, it is imperative that all of us, men and women, Democrats and Republicans, stand up and insist on due process for every citizen. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to confront our accusers, and the burden of proof imposed by our constitution—these are critical rights that we cannot choose to ignore.

If we don’t assure those rights each and every time, then we will all lose. Especially women.