Minnesota Senator Al Franken (Dem.) has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to look into his behavior, but resisted comparisons between his behavior and that of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of propositioning a number of underage girls over the years according to a report in the startribune.com.
Franken has only admitted to touching a woman’s breast when she was sleeping and did so only after a picture depicting the same emerged. He announced that he is not resigning and plans to return to Washington Monday.
OUR FREE OPINION
We draw a sharp distinction between unverified allegations made by a girl forty years ago and clear pictorial evidence depicting Franken groping the breasts of a sleeping woman. As a threshold matter, most states have laws that provide that a person cannot consent to sexual activity when they are sleeping or otherwise incapacitated. Franken’s actions could be construed as a felony.
With the exception of the allegations made by the 14-year-old girl forty years ago in the Moore matter, there have been no allegations of criminal activity. There is no other physical evidence to support the girl’s claims. Nor can there be any criminal charges given the statute of limitations in Alabama (and most other states). It boils down to unsupported ancient claims. Franken’s accusers are relatively fresh in comparison, and there is damning physical evidence to support the groping claim.
We have previously said that the citizens of Alabama should decide Moore’s fate given the following factors: (1) Moore denies the claims; (2) The allegations are too old and impossible to defend against; (3) The timing of the allegations are suspect—Moore has been in the public eye and office for years with no sexual assault claims; and, (4) Traditional notions of fair play and due process mandate the same.
Whether Franken should resign his office is a closer question; he deserves a fair disposition as well. However, his admission is akin to a guilty plea, and it appears that he, with the exception of, an ethics hearing, is waiving his due process rights in the court of public opinion (there are other alleged victims as well). The Senator has said he plans to return to Washington this week. Given his hypocritical stance and attacks on others who have been accused of sexual assaults, sexism or harassment, and his actions, we think the Senator should resign. We certainly are not saying he is guilty of any crimes, he would be presumed to be not guilty. His admissions are troubling.