On Night 3 of the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden, was lauded for his work helping the victims of sex crimes.
During a segment on domestic violence and sexual abuse, the DNC played a heartfelt montage of Biden’s work. “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay even showed up to commend Biden for helping “end the backlog” of untested rape kits.
All of that work is without a doubt commendable.
Noticeably absent from the montage, however, was praise for Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris. While Biden’s record in this area may be commendable, Harris’ is anything but.
Hargitay was one of the former vice president’s most vocal advocates during the segment, applauding his work with her and the Joyful Heart Foundation.
“I created the Joyful Heart Foundation to help survivors heal and to change the way our society responds to sexual violence. The vice president has worked tirelessly by our side to end the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits,” Hargitay said.
Biden may be fully willing to help find justice for survivors, but according to many victims of sexual abuse, Harris took the opposite approach during her time as San Francisco’s district attorney.
When Harris became district attorney, she inherited the many cases her predecessor had taken on.
That predecessor, Terence Hallinan, had gathered a series of files being used in an ongoing case against Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, according to The Intercept.
Working in conjunction with the alleged victims, Hallinan and his team had compiled the files as part of their probe into priests accused of committing various heinous sex crimes against children decades earlier.
The victims were hoping to use the files in a series of civil cases meant to hold the priests, as well as the Catholic Church, accountable.
After taking office, Harris refused to release the files.
“In her seven years as district attorney, Harris’s office did not proactively assist in civil cases against clergy sex abuse and ignored requests by activists and survivors to access the cache of investigative files that could have helped them secure justice, according to several victims of clergy sex abuse living in California who spoke to The Intercept,” according to the outlet.
“It went from Terence Hallinan going hundred miles an hour, full speed ahead, after the Catholic Church to Kamala Harris doing absolutely nothing and taking it backwards hundred miles an hour,” Joey Piscitelli told The Intercept.
A jury found that Piscitelli was molested when he attended a Catholic prep school in Richmond, California.
Back when Harris first decided to run for president, survivors and their attorneys brought her record into question. But in a response sent to The Associated Press, Harris’ campaign largely ignored the specific allegations, instead providing a generic statement on the record.
“Kamala Harris has been a staunch advocate on behalf of sexual assault victims, especially child sexual assault victims,” the statement read.
The statement went on to clarify that Harris had withheld the documents pertaining to clergy sex abuse to protect victims’ identities.
The victims themselves weren’t buying it.
“What she was saying was utter nonsense,” Michael Meadows, an attorney who has represented multiple victims of clergy sexual abuse, told the AP. “All she had to do was redact any identifying information.”
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