April 20, 2014

Rivard’s rape comment proving costly

A state legislator’s ill-considered comments on rape are costing him political support. Representative Roger Rivard of Rice Lake made his original comment that “some girls rape easy” to a reporter in his district nearly a year ago. “I thought it was troubling, and I thought it would be important for people in the public to be able to see these statements and critique them, debate them,” said Nichole Kathol, president of the Barron County Domestic Abuse Project. “I sent them to several media agencies, and nobody seemed to want to pick up on it.”

Rivard, a Republican, was commenting on a the case of a 17-year-old senior at Chetek High School who was charged with sexual assault for having sex with an underage girl. “He cites it as evidence for why we need to change sex offender registry laws, but it was actually a case of nonconsensual sex,” said Kathol. “She said “no,” and he did it anyway.”

The comment – which Rivard has recently attributed to his father – has now gained traction in the media, and it’s costing Rivard. Congressman and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker are among those withdrawing their endorsements of his reelection campaign. And state Representative Robin Vos, who’s in line to serve as Assembly Speaker next year, issued a statement:

“I cannot stand behind Roger Rivard. Rape is a horrible, violent act. His comments are unacceptable and embarrassing. Assembly Republicans have always fought to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Any person who has ever been a victim of a violent crime is offended by these comments and has every right to be. This race has never been about endorsements from one politician or another; this race will be decided by the people of the 75th district.”

Rivard was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, after veteran Democrat Mary Hubler decided not to seek reelection. He’s now being challenged for the seat by Rice Lake Democrat Stephen Smith