Group endorses lawmaker who made rape comment

Candidate made comments about sexual assault case

A group that said it promotes family values has endorsed a Wisconsin lawmaker who drew widespread criticism for his comment that “some girls rape easy.”

Republican Rep. Roger Rivard of Rice Lake was among 45 candidates endorsed Tuesday by Wisconsin Family Action.

Wisconsin Family Action director Julaine Appling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her group endorsed Rivard because of his stance on issues.

Rivard told the Chetek Alert newspaper in December that his father told him “some girls, they rape so easy” as a way to warn him that a woman could agree to sex but then later claim it wasn’t consensual.

Later that day he issued a statement saying his comments could be misconstrued and that he viewed rape as a horrible crime.

Rivard made the comments when he was discussing the case of a 17-year-old high school senior who was charged with sexual assault for having sex with an underage girl in the school’s band room.

Barron County District Attorney Angela Beranek said there was no element of consent in the case.

The Democratic prosecutor issued a statement Monday saying the attack was a serious act of aggression that lacked any element of consent.

“The public needs to know the case Rep. Rivard was speaking about was not a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ situation,” Beranek said in the statement. “This was a sex act perpetrated by force against the will of the victim. There was no consent.”

A message left Tuesday at Rivard’s office in Madison was not immediately returned.

The teenage boy was charged with sexually assaulting the girl in the school band room. The girl told investigators she said “no” when the boy told her he wanted to have sex with her, but that he pinned her to the floor and sexually assaulted her.

The boy reached a deal with Beranek’s office in which he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Beranek told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there was no doubt the sex was forced. She said her office agreed to the plea deal in part to spare the girl from having to endure a trial.

Beranek said she was especially appalled by Rivard’s comments because they were made so soon after the incident, making the situation that much more difficult for the victim and those close to her.

“He does not understand victims of crime,” she said of the lawmaker. “I hope he doesn’t find himself in a situation where someone near and dear to him becomes a crime victim, because I think he would view this differently.”

A number of prominent Republicans, including vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, rescinded their endorsements of Rivard following his comments.

However, he continues to enjoy support from local Republicans, as well as Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses-Wisconsin.

Rivard faces Democratic challenger Stephen Smith in the Nov. 6 election.