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Catholic University suspends dean for tweet doubting Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick
A dean at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., has been suspended for a tweet on the validity of a woman's sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Erin Schaff/AFP/Getty Images)

Catholic University suspends dean for tweet doubting Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick

A dean at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., has been suspended for comments that he tweeted about the validity of a woman's sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to a statement on the school's website.

William Rainford, the dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, wrote a tweet about Julie Swetnick, who has alleged that Kavanaugh was part of a group of boys who organized gang-rapes at parties in the early '80s. Swetnick is represented by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who also represents adult film star Stormy Daniels.

"Rainford’s tweets of the past week are unacceptable. 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," University president John Garvey wrote in a statement on Friday.

The tweet was posted on Wednesday, the day before Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh were scheduled to appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault at a house party in 1982.

What did the tweet say?

Rainford has led the undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. programs at the school since 2013.

"Swetnick is 55 y/o. Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? 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!" Rainford wrote on Twitter using the handle @NCSSSDean.

On Thursday, he issued an apology letter asking "for forgiveness" from the NCSSS community.

"I want to send you a message asking for forgiveness." Rainford wrote. "I offer no excuse. It was impulsive and thoughtless and I apologize.

"Let me assure you that I am keenly aware from decades of combined law enforcement and social work experience and education that victims who suffer assault and abuse need to be heard, respected, and provided treatment and justice," he continued.

"I am aware that many of you are angry, frustrated, and hurt. For this I am truly sorry," he said.

Rainford has since deactivated his social media accounts.

What else did the president of the university say?

Garvey called Rainford's comments insensitive to the alleged victim.

"Of deepest concern to me is that they demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to the victim," Garvey wrote.

Rainford has been suspended for the rest of the semester.

"It is my desire that he continue to lead the school. But in light of these recent actions I have suspended him as dean for the remainder of this semester. Rainford understands and accepts this decision," he continued.

Garvey noted that the university has taken no position on the accusations of sexual misconduct that have been made against Kavanaugh.

"The Catholic University of America has no position on the Kavanaugh matter. 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.

"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," Garvey wrote.

What else?

More than 40 social work students walked out of their classes on Thursday in protest of Rainford's tweet, according to the Tower, the school's independent student newspaper.

“I don’t want him speaking for me as a social worker or as a Catholic,” Victoria Conaway, a social work graduate student, told the newspaper.

“We have a lot of professional staff here that agree with us," she continued. "I think we’re at a time in the Catholic Church where we have to respond as a university.”

On Monday, more than 100 students, alumni, and faculty members held a second protest that called for Rainford's resignation.



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