A state legislator in New Hampshire resigned Saturday after he posted a tweet that dismissed sexual assault allegations against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as unlikely because of the way women’s bodies are constructed.
Rep. Richard Komi, a Manchester Democrat, tweeted that a woman’s anatomy would make it difficult to digitally penetrate her without “some cooperation from the female herself.” He said that was why he believed former Senate staffer Tara Reade’s allegations against Biden were false. He also accused Reade of “looking for attention.” Biden has denied the allegations.
The tweet, since deleted, prompted House Speaker Steve Shurtleff to call for Komi’s resignation late Friday over what he described as an “outrageous and offensive tweet about sexual assault and survivors of sexual assault.”
“I am appalled by Representative Komi’s comments. They were dismissive and hurtful to survivors of sexual assault across the Granite State and across the country,” Shurtleff said. “The comments are not fitting for the New Hampshire House of Representatives and immediately upon learning of them I called him and asked Representative Komi to resign his seat.”
In a letter sent Saturday to Shurtleff, Komi said he was resigning because of the tweet.
“I also want to offer my sincere apologies to anybody whose feelings may have been hurt by the tweets. I am and will continue to be a supporter of victims of sexual and domestic assault,” Komi said in his letter, which was shared with The Associated Press by a member of the Speaker’s office. “The tweets were very poorly worded and do not reflect who I am and what I stand for. I ask for the forgiveness of all who have been a victim of sexual or any other kind of assault.”
Reade alleges that Biden pushed her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in the spring of 1993, groped her and penetrated her with his finger. Last year, Reade publicly accused Biden of inappropriate touching, but did not allege sexual assault.
On Friday, Biden emphatically denied the allegations, declaring flatly that “this never happened.”
Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, also said it was time for Komi to go. He called his comments “wrong, inappropriate, and offensive to all Democrats, and does not reflect the values of our party.”
Komi, a former refugee from Nigeria who settled in the United States in 1999 and was first elected to the House in 2008, did not respond to a call to his phone or email requesting comment. Since the tweet, which Shurtleff and other Democrats saw, Komi has made his twitter feed protected, meaning only those who followed him before the controversy can see his tweets. Anyone else must be approved.
Komi’s tweet follows a year in which the treatment of women in the state legislature has taken on greater importance.
The Democrat-controlled House approved a new rule last year requiring members to attend training on sexual harassment prevention. In February, seven members were publicly reprimanded for failing to attend the training.
In 2016, the New Hampshire legislature also garnered national attention after several lawmakers made crude and sexist comments to a female colleague who was opposed to a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for women to expose their nipples in public.
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