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OPINION: Accusations shouldn’t be enough to destroy someone’s reputation

It takes incredible bravery for a woman like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to come forward and tell her story. Our society is going through a profound change right now, and she is a part of that. Sexual assault victims are being empowered to talk about what happens to them, and they’re being shown they will be heard.

But we are walking a delicate, dangerous line.

There is a much bigger question at stake today than just Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. What happens today is going to play a part in deciding how we handle every allegation that comes against anybody.

There are two roads this country could go down. Either we start investigating these accusations and treating the accused as innocent until they are proven guilty – or we just accept that anything anyone says about us is true.

That second road — the one that leads us to a nation where one person’s word can ruin lives — should send chills down every American’s spine.

It certainly does for me.

This is more than just a job interview

In this Sept. 6, 2018 photo, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reacts as he testifies after questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Official Washington is scrambling Monday to assess and manage Kavanaugh’s prospects after his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, revealed her identity to The Washington Post and described an encounter she believes was attempted rape. Kavanaugh reported to the White House amid the upheaval, but there was no immediate word on why or whether he had been summoned. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh being questioned before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During the confirmation hearings today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said something that absolutely infuriated me:

This is not a trial of Dr. Ford, it is a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh.

I hate that line of thinking. It is so horribly, completely, and totally wrong, and it is so dangerous.

This isn’t a job interview. This is man’s life. His reputation, his job, his family, and everything he holds dear is at stake in this. And everything about his life has been thrown into complete and total turmoil.

Every moment of the trial-by-media that Judge Kavanaugh is being put through and all the accusations against him are being broadcast around the world. It’s going to plague him for the rest of his life.

I’m not saying that Dr. Ford or any of the other women needed to say silent. I fully support them in coming forward, and I believe that they have the right to heard and to be believed.

But Brett Kavanaugh has the right to be heard and believed, too. And until some small shred of evidence comes out that he is actually guilty of what he’s been accused of, we need to remember that, in America, people aren’t supposed to get their lives ruined because of an accusation.

That’s just the way our justice system works. We investigate accusations. And until we prove somebody guilty, we don’t ruin their lives.

Sexual assault accusations need to be investigated

The Senate Judiciary CommitteeA Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

I fully support Dr. Ford coming forward and talking about what happened to her. I think it shows incredible bravery that she has the courage to come forward and talk about it.And I don’t blame her for waiting 35 years to talk about it. I don’t think that’s her fault. I believe that she was raised in a society and taught women to be ashamed of what men did to them. I believe that the world she grew up in conditioned her not to tell anyone when terrible things happened.

It’s a shame. It’s a shame that she had to live with that pain in silence – and it’s a shame that police weren’t able to investigate it when it happened.

Because today, it’s too late. Every possible witness Dr. Ford has named either doesn’t remember it happening or just wasn’t there to see it. And because it took so long for her story to come out, there’s just no way for us to know what really happened.

It’s not her fault that she didn’t come forward earlier. I don’t blame her for that. But it happened. And as much as that isn’t Dr. Ford’s fault that she didn’t tell anyone about this for so long, it isn’t Brett Kavanaugh’s fault, either.

Let’s empower women to come forward

Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers. From left to right: Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick. (CNN)

Dr. Christine Ford didn’t come forward for years because she was afraid. She was traumatized by her experience and she lived in a society that discouraged her from coming forward.That needs to change. We need to empower our sisters, our wives, and our daughters to know that, if they have been victims of sexual assault, they don’t need to be afraid to come forward. We need them to know that they will be heard and that they will be supported.

And we need them to be unafraid to do it right away. Because after we hear them, we need to investigate. Because if we don’t investigate, we can never know the truth.

We’re starting to make those changes. As a society, we’re starting to realize that there’s no need for victims of sexual assault to feel ashamed about what happened to them. That’s a great thing, and we’re long overdue on that change.

But letting a man’s life be destroyed on nothing more than accusations isn’t the right way to do it.

Let’s empower victims to tell their stories. But let’s keep the values our justice system was built upon intact while we do it.

More to the story

There’s more to this than what I think. We talked about this on the air on Dave & Dujanovic, and my co-host Debbie Dujanovic made some great points against what I had to say.

Her point of view is definitely worth hearing. If you missed our show, you can still hear our discussion on our podcast below:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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