MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican state Rep. Roger Rivard said his comments relaying advice his father gave him that “some girls rape easy” have been taken out of context.
Rivard, a freshman from Rice Lake, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a story published Thursday that his father’s comments were meant as a warning that a woman could agree to sex but then later claim it wasn’t consensual.
But the backlash from Rivard’s comments have been severe, with Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan announcing Thursday he was withdrawing his support. Ryan, a congressman from Janesville, endorsed Rivard earlier this year.
“State Representative Rivard’s comments are outrageous and offensive,” Ryan’s congressional campaign spokesman Kevin Siefert said in a statement. “Congressman Ryan believes there is no place in our discourse for rhetoric such as this. Congressman Ryan cannot support Mr. Rivard or his indefensible comments.”
Rivard was first quoted making his rape comments in a December story published by the Chetek Alert. 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.
Rivard told the Journal Sentinel that the original article did not provide the full context of his father’s comments and that his exact words were different.
“He also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,'” Rivard told the Journal Sentinel. “Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’ All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.'”
Rivard later issued a follow up statement calling rape a horrible act of violence that unfortunately often goes unreported to police.
Rivard’s Democratic opponent Stephen Smith called the comments offensive.
“I’m offended to think that my sister or my daughters would be thought of in that manner,” Smith said. “I feel Roger is out of touch with the majority of voters and his views are extreme.”
Nichole Kathol, president of the Barron County Domestic Abuse Project, said Rivard’s comments portray women as perpetrators of violence against them.
“He’s blaming the victim and implying the definition of rape is all too encompassing,” she said.
Pennie Meyers, interim executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a statement that Rivard’s comments show people in Wisconsin need to be better educated about sexual violence.