700 and Counting
An interview with the Twitter user behind the ever-growing list of #RepublicanSexualPredators
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In September 2018, outraged by the Kavanaugh hearings, a pseudonymous Twitter user @cajsa began compiling a list of #RepublicanSexualPredators. First on the list was Predator-in-Chief Donald Trump. But not all the names were as recognizable. Fifth on the list, for example, was ex-GOP Cobb County Chairman Joseph Russell Dendy, indicted in 2016 on 13 counts of child molestation, cruelty to children and sexual battery. Dendy’s victims were as young as four years old.
Earlier this year, I wrote about some of the most prominent recent examples of Republican and Trump-connected child rapists, sex traffickers, pedophile enablers and child porn offenders. But my list only scratched the surface. So I reached out to @cajsa to ask about the project and what (s)he had learned compiling a list of GOP sexual predators that is now at 700 names—and counting.
Q&A with @cajsa
What prompted you to start tracking #RepublicanSexualPredators?
Watching the Kavanaugh hearings, I was reminded so much of the Clarence Thomas hearings, even to the angry denunciation of those who dare to question their integrity. “I like beer” might not have the rhetorical power of “high-tech lynching” but it came from the same male rage at being questioned. I was enraged by the hypocrisy and its repeat of the Thomas hearing making it all about one woman and ignoring the other women, pretending they don’t exist.
People were sharing a long list of Republican predators. I wanted to post it but could not find the source for the list. I finally tracked it down to the Appendix of this book, and it was an unsourced list. It was problematic because some people could not even be found, even using NewsBank. I posted those on the list I could verify which was the majority, including a news link to show I was not just inventing things. When I finished that list, I just kept going.
I excluded the adulterers and those who hired sex workers. Those are private matters. Sex work should be legal so women have more protection and I don’t think it’s shameful. I also did not include closeted anti-gay gay men. Again, it’s private. I do not support people calling Sen. Graham “Lady G” because that’s transphobic. There’s nothing wrong with him cross-dressing if that makes him happy. Hypocrisy alone does not make my list. I did include one guy who paid a sex worker with a check and then stopped payment. That’s not okay.
What have you discovered along the way?
Law enforcement is full of sexual predators. I generally find 5 or more law enforcement predators for every political predator. Of course, there are more people in law enforcement than in politics, but I would think they would take it seriously. They don’t. I keep hinting that someone needs to take on the law enforcement predators. There are sites tracking Baptist predators and Catholic predators, but those in blue seem to get a pass.
Of course, politicians, academics, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement are always identified when they are in trouble. The rest of us are just men or women.
How do you respond to people who say this is a bipartisan problem, that when it comes to sexually abusing women and children Democrats and Republicans are the same?
Al Franken, Andrew Cuomo. I think there are predators on both sides, though I see more pedophiles on the right and more sexual harassment on the left. I think the worst predators are drawn to the more authoritarian ideology in hopes that the rules and rigidity would make them behave. I remember reading about how homophobes may be closeted gays. There is a lot of research on the personality that seeks authoritarianism and it just makes sense. People do not grow up wanting to molest children and may feel self-disgust and hope that the evangelical church and Republican dogmatism would keep them in line. Of course, it won’t. I think we have to make it possible for people who have those desires to seek therapeutic help without stigma. If they want to prevent their impulses from being realized, they need a safe way to get help. I don’t think you can call it merely a sexual orientation, though, oppression and violence is not an orientation.
Can you give me some examples of the worst behavior by elected or prominent members of the GOP that haven’t been given the attention they should have?
I think there is a special place in hell for people not on my list, those who allow predators to have their crimes expunged. A local GOP chairman was convicted of child pornography with his record expunged in three years and did not have to even admit guilt. His crime has nearly disappeared. There’s the AZ pol David Stringer who had his record expunged after molesting children and went on to run for office.
Of course there are the truly sickening people like Verstigui who ordered child porn like it was take-out and requested a snuff film with an infant. Josh Duggar’s interest in infant abuse is another revolting case. The pastor, Mack Charles Andrews, who raped a girl on her father’s grave is another one that makes me doubt humanity deserves to continue. He raped several children and got out after 5 years after claiming that his diabetes made him sign the plea agreement. Not even under parole. The judge who released him? What was he thinking?
What do you think about the growth of the QAnon movement, which tries to paint Democrats as pedophiles and child rapists?
Gaslighting, Accuse others of what you do. Think of David Todeschini, a Q-Anon peddler of pedophile conspiracies, including the idea that Hillary tortured children and drank their blood. Well, David Todeschini raped an eight-year-old boy and he’s one of their leaders. You know they don’t really care about children or they would not have used the hashtag Save the Children and damaged an organization that actually was saving children by misdirecting support intended for a real charity to their fallacious cult.
Why do you think the leadership of the “family values” GOP is so silent on this issue?
Because they do not have to address it. They have FOX, OANN, and the rest of the alternative reality media who will simply erase the scandal or claim it is all lies. They know their voters do not listen to legacy media and they can safely do whatever they want so long as they don’t criticize Trump.
What does the case of Josh Duggar, who previously represented the fundamentalist Family Research Council, say about the connection between religion and child abuse?
So, my separation from religion began when I was a child. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and we had a guest pastor at our Baptist church. He explained that his six-month-old child cried even though he had a clean diaper, had been fed, and burped. So he spanked him for lying. I stood up in church and said “That’s wrong” and walked out. This was not sexual abuse, but it is definitely child abuse.
When an area Baptist pastor embezzled money from a local business, bankrupting it, he gave a sermon about forgiveness, asked for forgiveness, and demanded people support him and pressure his victim to not file charges. In the end, the victim let him off, the church split because some wanted him fired. This was in 1983. He is still pastor of the schism church. It was the purest example of the idea that repentance equals no accountability that permeates the Baptist and evangelical churches.
Being an evangelical or a Baptist is basically a license to do anything. All you have to do is say you're sorry.
What do you think the future holds for alleged child sex trafficker Matt Gaetz?
Speaker of the House? I mean, he’s a good fit with Dennis Hastert. Jim Jordan who looked the other way and protected a man who molested hundreds of students and Matt Gaetz are in the leadership of the GOP. There will be no consequences for them. Even if he is indicted, won’t his trial be in his district? Can you imagine him being convicted by the folks who want to be grabbed by the pussy? He represents a rotten borough. I can’t imagine him being convicted.
Where can people find you and follow your work online?
I have a series of Daily Kos diaries posting every 25 tweets: https://www.dailykos.com/history/user/CajsaLilliehook
Four days a week, I write a column for New World Notes, the longest-running site covering metaverse news and culture. Tuesday through Thursday are about art. Friday is about Second Life blogs: https://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/cajsas-choices/
I also have a ko-fi account which is kind of embarrassing, but also I am poor and cannot afford copays for my insulin, so I have to buy generic which is much less effective. Pass the Build Back Better bill so my copay is $35/month: https://ko-fi.com/cajsalilliehook.