Catholic University Suspends Dean for Pro-Kavanaugh Tweet

by David Nussman  •  •  October 1, 2018   

William Rainford suspended for tweeting his doubts about Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick

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WASHINGTON ( - A dean at the Catholic University of America (CUA) has been suspended after tweeting in favor of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

William Rainford, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS), tweeted on Sept. 26 from his official university Twitter account:

Swetnick is 55 y/o, Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!

The tweet caused a firestorm of backlash among CUA students, and Rainford deleted the tweet amid the blowback and went on to issue an apology. CUA officials suspended Rainford from the position of dean for the rest of the semester.

The NCSSS dean's tweet was referring to the salacious allegation of Julie Swetnick, who claims she was at parties where a teenaged Kavanaugh would "drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking 'No' for an answer."

In a statement to students and faculty on Sept. 28, CUA President John Garvey said, "Over the past few days I have heard from numerous professors, alumni, and students of the National Catholic School of Social Service who are concerned with a series of tweets written by Dean Will Rainford. The tweets called into question the validity of some accusations of sexual assault made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh."

Garvey emphasized, "Of deepest concern to me is that they demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to the victim."

The university president went on to say, "The Catholic University of America has no position on the Kavanagh matter. But let there be no doubt that our University, and particularly our National Catholic School of Social Service, has a special concern for every victim and survivor of sexual assault."

A screenshot of the email from CUA president John Garvey

After deleting the tweet, Rainford sent out a public apology on Sept. 27, saying, "My tweet suggested that she was not a victim of sexual assault. I offer no excuse. It was impulsive and thoughtless and I apologize."

Garvey noted that Rainford issued an apology and deleted his social media accounts, but argued that more needed to be done.

"While it was appropriate for him to apologize and to delete his Twitter and Facebook accounts," Garvey claims, "this does not excuse the serious lack of judgment and insensitivity of his comments."

He also said, "Rainford's tweets of the past week are unacceptable. We should expect any opinion he expresses about sexual assault to be thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values of Catholic University, particularly in communications from the account handle @NCSSSDean."

Some CUA students think Garvey has not gone far enough to punish Rainford for the tweet. Students protesters had a list of demands, according to CUA independent student newspaper The Tower, including "the resignation of Rainford" and "for a woman to replace Rainford as dean to better represent the largely-female social work population."

Rainford's tweet addressed the allegations by Swetnick. Although not the main focus of the Senate Judiciary Committee's proceedings on Sept. 27, Swetnick's claim did come up during Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) questioning of Kavanaugh. The Supreme Court nominee said, "The Swetnick thing is a joke! That is a farce!"

When the senator asked if he would comment further on the Swetnick allegation, Kavanaugh declined.

In a press conference Monday, President Donald Trump commented on the Democrats' behavior in the Judiciary Committee hearings last week: "I thought it was a disgrace."

Trump then went on a rant about the Democrats' hypocrisy, calling them "dishonest people."

He pointed out, for instance, that Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) has lied about his time in the Marines. Blumenthal mischaracterized his military service as being on the front lines in the Vietnam War, while he actually stayed stateside in the Marine Reserve.

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