Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Above all else, Donald Trump is a rapist

Trump’s reelection would permanently stain the Oval Office with sexual violence
Gage Skidmore
Courtesy of Openverse.

Today, March 5, is Super Tuesday, when 15 states and one territory will hold their Democratic and Republican primary elections for president. Donald Trump is poised to further tighten his grip on the Republican presidential primary race with an expected sweep of the states that are voting.

Trump is running for president once more, despite a litany of legal and ethical woes. He is set to be on trial and has been indicted in New York, Georgia and Washington D.C. by law enforcement officials up-and-down the ladder, ranging from district attorneys to special counsels. He is accused of mishandling classified documents, intentionally misrepresenting his finances and attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election by inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

You can feel however you want about these issues. You’re well within your right as a voter to feel that any of these offenses should disqualify Trump from being president once again. Similarly, you can believe that these offenses are simply not detrimental to his candidacy, and that his policy initiatives and personality are enough for him to gain your vote in November.

Above all, though, when making your decision, be it in the primaries or in the general election this fall, it is essential to remember one fact about Trump: he is a rapist.

Last year, Trump was found in a liable New York court of law for sexual abuse and defamation against E. Jean Carroll, who claimed that Trump raped her in a department store in 1996. In making their judgment, the jurors found that Trump sexually abused Carroll without explicitly saying he raped her.

After the decision was struck, Trump’s legal team was quick to celebrate his seeming exoneration of rape allegations. Yet, District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the case, has said repeatedly in the months following that Trump, by all intents and purposes, did indeed rape Carroll, and that the distinction between “sexual abuse” and “rape” has importance only in a niche, legalistic sense, when parsing the difference between the definition of rape in New York and federal law.

In any normal sense of the word, this much is clear: Donald Trump raped E. Jean Carroll.

Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland and Bill Clinton demonstrate a centuries-long problem with sexual violence in the Oval Office. All three were accused of sexual violence that have rightly marred their presidential legacies, but the lack of any legal consequence to their sexual violence sets the worst imaginable example for the United States. Every branch of our current government is plagued by sexual violence allegations: Matt Gaetz in Congress, Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court and Joe Biden himself in the Executive Branch. While these allegations against our politicians are varied in context and credibility, they are still allegations. They deserve to be taken seriously. Of course, we often don’t even have the benefit of a full-fledged federal probe into the credibility of each accuser and the alleged crimes.

Trump was found liable for sexual assault by an objective jury of his peers as outlined by our constitution. While the sexual assault claims against Biden are widely disputed, the claims against Trump are legally plastered to his identity and financial accounts. Considering how poorly our legal system treats sexual assault survivors and how difficult it is to make a sexual assault allegation against a politician, the impact of the Trump verdict cannot be underemphasized.

Trump’s political strategy revolves around deflecting allegations. He has been accused of just about everything a person can be accused of while running for office: fraud, election interference, bribery, extortion and insurrection.

Often, a single accusation of wrongdoing against a politician can spiral out of control and bury them. However, Trump responds to an allegation of wrongdoing by simply spawning a new controversy for the media to fixate on. The former president’s web of allegations is like a bed of nails. He’s comfortable laying upon this bed of crime, deceit and turmoil with the knowledge that no one nail can hurt him.

But this sexual assault verdict is the first nail that can. It can and it should. While we may struggle to understand how someone can support Trump’s politics and various scandals, we find it absolutely impossible to understand support for a man who was legally determined to be a rapist.

Lucas Ruud is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at [email protected]. Luke Halpern is the head opinion editor and can be reached at [email protected].

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