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Pro-Trump congressman who thinks LGBT+ rights have gone too far accused of sexual harassment

Josh Milton March 3, 2021
Madison Cawthorn addresses the virtual 2020 Republican National Convention, wearing a navy suit, white shirt and red tie against the stripes of the American flag

Madison Cawthorn addresses the virtual 2020 Republican National Convention. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)

Madison Cawthorn has once again been accused of sexual harassment, this time by his former college classmates.

The freshman House representative and toadying Donald Trump supporter is facing fresh allegations after being previously accused of sexual misconduct last year.

Several people who knew the North Carolina Republican during his days studying at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, in 2016 alleged that he touched them inappropriately, among other claims.

BuzzFeed News spoke with more than three dozen people who accused Cawthorn of or corroborated reports of sexual harassment and misconduct on the leafy Christian college campus. He was known on campus for his aggressive and misogynistic behaviour, they claimed.

Classmates shared haunting allegations – Cawthorn referring to women as “slutty”, grabbing their thighs and touching them without consent.

His Dodge Challenger, the women said, was a vehicle for his sexual misconduct, being used to “entrap and harass”.

Madison Cawthorn gestures in a suit as he addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference
Madison Cawthorn addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“His MO was to take vulnerable women out on these rides with him in the car, and to make advances,” Caitlin Coulter, one of Cawthorn’s former classmates, told the outlet.

Resident advisers even warned women in their dorms to steer clear of Cawthorn and not to go in his car, it was alleged.

Cawthorn’s representatives did not comment directly on the allegations, instead referring to remarks the young Republican made amid similar accusations during his campaign trail.

“I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” Cawthorn said in September.

“If I have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a world where people know to explicitly ask before touching her.

“If I had a son, I want him to be able to grow up in a world where he would not be called a sexual predator for trying to kiss someone.”

Who is Madison Cawthorn?

Considered by colleagues as a rising Republican star – the youngest elected lawmaker ever sworn into Congress at 25 – Cawthorn’s bid for the solidly conservative North Carolina seat was rumbled by similar accusations of sexual misconduct last year.

Multiple women came forward with allegations of aggressive and unwanted sexual behaviour. This behaviour was a “pattern”, they said.

Madison Cawthorn speaks to Trump supporters from the Ellipse at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

As much as Cawthorn presented himself as a fresh face and a new voice for the Republican party, he soon began spouting Trump-lite rhetoric. There were reports of him referring to Hitler as “the Fuhrer“, his tweet announcing his win with “cry more, lib” and his creating a website to attack a reporter for working “for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.”

During his campaign he positioned himself as a defender of religious freedom, saying:  “I’m running because our faith, our freedoms and our values are under assault from coastal elites and leftists like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” his website states. “I will be a strong voice for faith, family and freedom.

He has also spoken salaciously against trans and queer rights, suggesting the LGBT+ rights movement was about “two people who wanted to be able to get married” and should have ended there.

“But now it’s saying that we need to be able to have gender reassignment surgery for 12-year-olds. They never stopped at a line. They always go further,” he said on the Charlie Kirk Show in 2020.

Although he has disavowed QAnon, the big tent conspiracy movement, Cawthorn nevertheless has amplified debunked conspiracies and tall tales and fraternised with fellow far-right firebrands.

Cawthorn also spoke at the tinderbox “Steal the Vote” pro-Trump rally on 6 January that led into the violent Capitol Hill insurrection. He told the cheering crowds that both parties were “trying to silence your voice” – comments he later said he does not regret.

Shortly after, he, alongside 146 other Republicans, voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

 

More: Donald Trump, Republican

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