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Senator Defends Decision Not To Report Sexual Assault Allegations


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Wisconsin state Rep. Bill Kramer lost his Majority Leader position, but not his seat, when he was charged in March with two counts of second-degree sexual assault. On Sunday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that there was a third alleged assault three years earlier. The victim was an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who informed Johnson, his chief of staff, and a Waukesha County GOP official at the time, though no one took action.

Johnson and his staff never informed police, the Senate, or state officials after the 2011 incident. Over that period, Kramer was promoted to Majority Leader, the second-highest ranking position in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Only after the article published Johnson’s office responded that staff had followed the woman’s wishes, who chose not to report it to police. “Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando conveyed their commitment to be 100% supportive of any actions she chose to pursue on the advice of her legal counsel — up to and including the filing of criminal charges,” Johnson’s office told the Journal Sentinel. “She requested that Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando keep the matter confidential and take no further action. Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando fully honored her request.”

Although Johnson did not violate laws by not reporting the crime, he has had a spotted voting record on taking sexual abuse and harassment seriously. In 2010, Johnson testified against a bill that would have made it easier for victims of child abuse to sue their abusers. Explaining that the bill would “likely create” “economic havoc,” Johnson said he thought trial lawyers would benefit from the Child Victims Act, but not the actual victims. “This bill could actually have the perverse effect of leading to additional victims of sexual abuse,” he claimed, “if individuals, recognizing that their organizations are at risk, become less likely to report suspected abuse.”

Last February, Johnson was one of 22 Senators, all Republican, who voted against an expanded reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. At the time, he claimed that the bill’s provisions for Native American rape survivors an “unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority.”

More often than not, abusers escape notice of the law. Only 40 out of 100 rapes are typically reported to authorities, and even fewer, four out of 100, lead to a felony conviction.