Rep. Steve King Lies, Says Jennings Condoned "Sexual Abuse"
On October 5, 2009, Rep. Steve King released a statement accusing the head of the Department of Education's Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools of looking "the other way on sexual abuse." That is a lie. In fact, various organizations, including Media Matters and CNN, debunked this claim last week.
Rep. Steve King Lies About Kevin Jennings
Rep. Steve King:
Kevin Jennings lacks the appropriate qualifications and ethical standards to serve in a presidential administration. Despite serving as the 'safe schools' czar, Jennings has demonstrated a willingness to look the other way on sexual abuse. [King Release, 10/5/09; emphasis added]
In Reality, No Sexual Contact Occurred & The Adolescent Was Of Age
CNN Debunked This Exact Smear Days Earlier. As reported by CNN:
Conservative groups charge that Jennings, who is openly gay, condoned statutory rape and child molestation. That's in reference to an incident in 1988 when Jennings, who was a teacher at the time, did not tell authorities that a 16-year-old student revealed to Jennings that he'd had sex with an older man.
Now that former student is speaking out for the first time and telling CNN he did not have sex with that man at all. He did not elaborate on what he told Jennings at the time. Jennings could not be reached for comment late Friday.
In a statement obtained by CNN, the former student, who wanted to be called Brewster, wrote: "Since I was of legal consent at the time, the 15-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings 21 years ago is of nobody's concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my 'well-being' and that of America's students, they'll be relieved to know that I was not 'inducted' into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery."
Critics contend that Brewster was 15 at the time of the incident. But CNN has obtained a copy of Brewster's driver's license which verifies he was 16 at the time. The legal age of consent for sexual activities in Massachusetts is 16. [CNN, 10/2/09; emphasis added]
The former student at the center of the Fox News fueled Jennings controversy has provided Media Matters for America with the following statement:
Since I was of legal consent at the time, the fifteen-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings twenty-one years ago is of nobody's concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my "well-being" and that of America's students, they'll be relieved to know that I was not "inducted" into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.
In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation's students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings' courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I'd be the proud gay man that I am today.
Media Matters for America has exclusively obtained the Massachusetts drivers' license of the student confirming that at the time of the incident, he was at least sixteen years of age -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.
Jennings' 2006 memoir, Mama's Boy, Preachers Son, makes clear that he began teaching at Concord Academy, the student in questions school, in late August or September 1987.
The following scanned image of the student's current drivers' license has been heavily redacted to protect his identity.