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Letter: Democratic Party’s apology for its handling of sexual harassment accusations

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune

As Rob Miller, a Utah Democratic Party Chairman candidate speaks, audience members stand arm-in-arm with their backs to him and all of the candidates during a town hall meeting at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. The meeting comes after party officials had a meeting about what to do with allegations about sexual harassment against Miller.

The Utah Democratic Party issued an “apology” for its handling of sexual harassment accusations four years ago — but it’s too little, too late.

I was one of three women who protested Rob Miller at a debate for Democratic Party chair, because he had been credibly accused of sexual harassment. We stood up and silently turned our backs on him, and debate moderator Scott Howell shouted at us to sit down and when we didn’t — he threatened to have the Capitol police drag us out of the room. To reiterate, we were publicly threatened with arrest for protesting sexual harassment.

It’s so difficult to look back on photos because we were so obviously terrified. So many in that room were mad at us for bringing attention to sexual harassment, not at the man who did the harassing. As documented by the Tribune photographer, we had to physically cling to each other for support.

A few weeks later at the statewide Democratic Convention, we again protested the fact that nothing had been done about the sexual harassment allegations, and Miller was still on the ballot for party chair. We stood silently in front of the stage and were screamed at and insulted by fellow Democrats.

Every Democratic politician in the state was present at that event and could clearly see us and our signs that said things like, “Victim’s Rights.” Not a single Democratic elected official in the state of Utah — male or female — stood with us at the time.

Not a single one.

Don’t get it twisted. The Utah GOP has done nothing laudatory. They don’t care about women, and never have. The GOP has held a supermajority in state politics for decades and Utah is consistently the worst state in the nation for women in almost every measurable category.

All credit should go to the survivors who bravely spoke up and the women who stood up (literally) against sexual harassment at the time — not four years too late.

Kate Kelly, Washington, DC

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