The Catholic University of America suspended Dean Will Rainford Sept. 28 for tweets questioning the legitimacy of sexual assault allegations brought forward by Julie Swetnick and Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Rainford suggested Kavanaugh was a victim of assault in a Sept. 26 tweet published under his official Twitter account for his position as official Dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service Twitter account, @NCSSSDean, which has since been deleted.
“Swetnick is 55 y/o. Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys?” Rainford wrote in the tweet. “If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with &by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!”
More than one hundred students, alumni and members of Catholic University gathered in a campus protest Oct. 1 demanding the resignation of Rainford, according to The Washington Post.
In another tweet Sept. 26, Rainford questioned the validity of Ford’s accusations because of her initial decision to remain anonymous, and the later public disclosure of her identity.
“Riddle me this. Why would the accuser of Kavanaugh take a polygraph, paid for by someone else and administered by private investigator in early August, if she wanted to remain anonymous and had no intention of reporting the alleged assault?” Rainford wrote.
Rainford issued an apology Sept. 27 for his comments about Swetnick’s accusation, according to CNN.
“My tweet suggested that she was not a victim of sexual assault,” Rainford wrote. “I offer no excuse. It was impulsive and thoughtless and I apologize.”
CUA President John Garvey announced Rainford’s suspension in a Sept. 28 statement, writing that Rainford’s tweets do not reflect the values of CUA.
“We should expect any opinion he expresses about sexual assault to be thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values of Catholic University, particularly in communications from the account handle @NCSSSDean,” Garvey wrote. “While it was appropriate for him to apologize and to delete his Twitter and Facebook accounts, this does not excuse the serious lack of judgment and insensitivity of his comments.”
Associate Dean Marie Raber is serving as acting dean for the remainder of the semester, according to the statement.
CUA holds a neutral stance on the Kavanaugh hearings, but continues to support victims of sexual assault, Garvey wrote in the Sept. 28 statement.
“The Catholic University of America has no position on the Kavanaugh matter,” Garvey wrote. “But let there be no doubt that our University, and particularly our National Catholic School of Social Service, has a special concern for every victim and survivor of sexual assault.”
Garvey will review the case to repair damage and prevent similar future incident, according to the letter.
“The many letters and phone calls we have received this week have brought up a variety of issues regarding the direction of the school of social work,” Garvey wrote. “I have decided to direct a thorough review of these concerns, led by the Office of the Provost. The scope of the review will be to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the concerns, and to identify areas where we hope to see improvement.”