I wasn’t going to write this post. Yet.
After I received commitments from all three Democratic candidates for Senate to complete my Q&A, I told myself that was valuable for readers and the larger LGBTQ community. I needed to be fair even if my opinions are seeping in here and there. I’m not trying strive for journalist levels of craftspersonship, but doing my best.
Even during the Thursday night debate between the three candidates, I decided early on to just turn it off after my twitter finger was itching. I was afraid if I was critical, they wouldn’t respond and that was not fair to you readers. You would hope that candidates would not punish me (and you) because of a critique, but I didn’t want to take the risk.
Then this morning, I received this image.
Daylin Leach is a rapist. He used to be a State Senator. Disclosures about his sexual violence and sexual harassment eventually led to him losing his seat, but not before he sued his accuser. Yep.
I wrote this post in 2019 laying out the facts and my own history with Leach.
That’s in big letters so you don’t miss it. Here’s quick excerpt, but it is really necessary for you to read the entire piece.
Governor Wolf wants him to resign. Most of the Democrats in office agree. But Leach clings to the shreds of his once luminous political career like his annelid worm namesake, grasping at some delusional belief that SUING Cara Taylor is a good way to handle what he deems false allegations while the PA Senate conducts its own investigation. Click on any of those links for lots of mansplaining by Leach, a once bright start in a sea of cishet white male saviors holding back the forces of oppression in Harrisburg.
So that was 2019. In 2020, he was defeated in the Democratic primary for the 17th Senatorial District by a woman.
And here we are in 2022. He’s stumping for Conor Lamb. He was invited by Conor Lamb to a fundraiser. He bragged about it on Twitter. And while community leaders are responding, there is no comment as of yet from Lamb’s campaign. People are calling for him to return the donation and sever the tie.
If it wasn’t an accurate take on the facts, why didn’t Lamb’s campaign immediately correct the record?
Of course, I agree with that. I don’t want my Senator working with sexual predators to win elections or ever. I don’t want them accepting money from sexual predators who sue their accusers. I want candidates and electeds to be like Josh Shapiro who held the Roman Catholic Church accountable for millennia of sexual violence through the Grand Jury process. That’s where we set the bar.
This was so upsetting to me, a survivor of sexual violence, that I was shaking for several hours. And still, I stayed a bit silent as I poked around asking for information. I genuinely thought by the evening news cycle, this would be circulating a little bit. When it wasn’t, I knew that I had to say something even if it means Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, or anyone else decides not to complete my Q&A.
This is so unbelievable. Why am I still having to write these blog posts about this terrible man in 2022? It is almost like the Democrats want to prove Trump was right when he said he could get elected in spite of his many sexually violent crimes. That’s heartbreaking.
What further upset me is how many people responded to this disclosure by bringing up John Fetterman’s behavior. The fact that Fetterman has an event in his history involving a gun and a Black man does not cancel out Conor Lamb working with a rapist to win the election. They are both very serious matters that warrant close scrutiny of the facts and to make serious decisions about how they impact their campaigns and qualification to represent Pennsylvania.
This is not a racism versus rape debate. In fact, such a twist is a terrible disregard for the realities of sexual violence in the lives of Black women and other women of color. And the use of guns and weapons in the sexual terrorization of women is another serious consideration. These issues intersect and both are very serious conversations.
So if that is some sort of ‘defense’ of Conor Lamb, we should have at least the same amount of conversation about his buddy Daylin Leach and the moral impact on Lamb’s campaign and character as we do about Fetterman. That’s a lot of conversation to cram into the next few weeks, but let’s give it a go.
I’m waiting for all of you saying “But John Fetterman …” to say “and now let’s talk about Conor Lamb and Daylin Leach” so we can stop the distraction from hurting anyone and get down to THIS point. Why is Conor Lamb doing this? What does he stand to gain by sullying his campaign with a rapist?
Seriously, if you are a feminist and you purport to believe women, there’s a woman who was 17 when she was raped. Do you believe her? Does Conor Lamb believe her?
In 2021, Leach reached a settlement with two of the women he sued. The case against Cara Taylor and the Philadelphia Inquirer remain active. One of the women who settled shared this on her Medium page.
I want to point out important context to this news: Daylin Leach’s legal claims against Cara Taylor and, in a separate case, the Philadelphia Inquirer remain pending. I believe this to be an attack on First Amendment rights of a survivor and a reputable newspaper, and a continued betrayal to whatever progressive accolades that Daylin Leach continues to espouse. His ongoing efforts to rebrand himself through blog posts and tweets are no longer a concern with which I need to burden myself, but they are indicative of the larger cultural shift we all must fight for to ensure that abusive power doesn’t continue to harm us all.Colleen Kennedy
Again, I understand what Daylin Leach has to gain from this. And the near silence in response from all of the Conor Lamb supporters speaks to how effective this will be.
But what does Conor Lamb have to gain? Why would he do this? How does any parent want to be part of a conversation about a 30 year-old-man raping a 17-year-old? How does a former prosecutor not understand the impact this has on victims and survivors across Pennsylvania? It matter, Conor. It matters what you do next.
In 2020, Daylin Leach said this
For his part, Leach believes there will be a reckoning for the “overcorrection” of the #MeToo movement — though he acknowledges that there were certainly corrections that needed to be made.
“At a certain point,” he said, “there needs to be like, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, where not everyone who did anything that was insensitive during apartheid was banished, but rather, they talked about it, there was healing, there was apology, then the people moved on with their lives.”
I wonder if Andrew Cuomo would agree?
So I expect women supporting Conor Lamb to push for answers.
I expect Conor Lamb to return the donation.
I expect Conor Lamb to explain what happened and acknowledge the trauma this has caused.
I expect the Pennsylvania political media to do their job and look into this thoroughly. She was 17.
And I expect my Q&A series might not look like I had intended. Politicians have long memories for mouthy bloggers.
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