A leading Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky has sparked outrage after suggesting to a rape victim who testified at a hearing that government intrusion is worse than what she suffered.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports Kentucky Senate majority caucus chairman Dan Seum (R-Louisville) addressed rape survivor Michelle Kuiper on Thursday during a Senate Judiciary Committee on SB-150, a bill requiring felony arrestees to provide DNA samples. Kuiper testified along with two other people, including a mother whose daughter was raped and murdered and a man wrongfully convicted of rape who served 18 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence.
“In 1994 I was sitting on my front porch, a freshman in college, and I was pulled off of it and dragged to a neighbor’s deck and sexually assaulted,” Kuiper said at the hearing. Her attacker, a serial stalker dubbed the U of L rapist, was arrested three years later on a burglary charge but because he was not convicted his DNA was never taken.
“It took almost two decades for them to catch him,” lamented an emotional Kuiper.
“I don’t even like to talk about my story… [but] I prayed to God to give me the words,” she told WLKY.
What happened next left Kuiper in tears.
“I’m amazed that even today I can be forced to incriminate myself by giving my hair sample, my body fluids… and now my DNA,” Seum said. “This is what I refer to as government intrusion, creeping oppression if you will. I understand your pain, but I can tell you, I have eight children and 21 grandkids, that over the years this government through its intrusion has done more damage to me than all these criminals out there ever did.”
“So I have fought this oppressive government,” Seum continued. “Now that sounds radical but the founding fathers said never trust this government. That’s why we have the Fifth Amendment and the Second Amendment.”
Kuiper was shocked. “I was shaken and felt sick after his comments,” she said. “Basically, he told us he had suffered worse crimes than us—and he was talking to a rape survivor, a woman whose daughter had been raped, murdered and set on fire, as well as a man who had lost 18 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.”
“If all of those things have happened to him or his family, then he has reason to say that,” added Kuiper. “Otherwise, he should do all he can to support this bill.”
The Frankfort State Journal reports Kentucky Democratic Party Chairwoman Rep. Sannie Overly said Seum owes every woman in Kentucky an apology.
“Sen. Seum’s rebuke yesterday of these victims during Senate testimony on legislation is indefensible,” Overly said in a statement. “A rape victim brave enough to step forward and share her personal story of a heinous crime should not get a lecture. He should apologize to these people and all Kentucky women who have experienced this horrific crime.”
Instead of addressing Seum’s comments, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) attacked Overly, who Gov. Matt Bevin (R) accused last year of turning her back on two of her staff members who were sexually harassed by former state Rep. John Arnold (D-Sturgis).
“Before Representative Overly begins pointing fingers at members of our caucus, we remind her that over $300,000 was spent on litigation involving sexual harassment of the staff of her own members—harassment that she still refuses to acknowledge even occurred,” said Stivers.
WHAS reports SB-150 passed 6-4, with Seum voting against it. The measure now heads to the full state Senate for consideration.