This election is personal for me. Supporting, and voting for, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is personal for me. And I want you to know why.
In 1984, the artistic director of Children’s Theatre Conservatory School plead guilty to molesting three boys, and was sentenced to serve a year at a minimum security work farm in Anoka, Minnesota. The truth of what Donahue, and nearly thirty other adults, did to children at Children’s Theatre would not be fully known for over forty years, but even before people knew everything, they knew Donahue was not the only predator.
In 1982, I was a sophomore at Children’s Theatre. I had attended summer school, fallen in love with CTC, and begged my parents to let me leave my all-girls Catholic school and transfer to CTC. They agreed. Looking back, I wish I’d stayed at Regina.
One evening, after a late tech rehearsal, a teacher named Stephen Adamczak offered me a ride home. I was fifteen, I was a virgin, and he was a teacher. Fifteen back then was different, at least for me, than fifteen now. As a Catholic kid, I was told that you saved yourself for marriage, and I knew about biological sex. No one ever told me about rape.
He didn’t drive me home. He drove past my house and parked along Lake Harriet, where he tried to rape me. I fought like hell, and I managed to open the passenger door and fall onto the curb. I was terrified, I was injured, I was confused, and I ran home. I never told a faculty member, or my parents, because along with every other kid at CTC, I had been brainwashed to believe things that weren’t true.
I was also sexually assaulted by another student while at Children’s Theatre. The fact that adult sexual predators were protected, enabled, and encouraged by the board, allowed students to become predators as well.
When law enforcement began investigating CTC, it was clear they had one target-Donahue. Oh, they arrested Adamczak and another predator, Jason McLean, but their focus was Donahue. The BCA threatened us, yelled at us, bullied us, and re-traumatized us. I refused to testify about what Adamczak had done to me, only answering questions about my two friends he had sexually assaulted and abused. Other victims flat-out lied, while even more would not testify at all.
I believe that if Kamala Harris had been the prosecutor against Children’s Theatre, every single adult who raped, molested, and trafficked children, would have gone to prison for years. I believe this because when she was a prosecutor, Kamala Harris focused on protecting victims. She put sexual predators in prison. She didn’t send them to a minimum security work farm for a year. Kamala Harris protected victims and survivors, and I know she would have done that for the victims of Children’s Theatre in 1984.
Joe Biden created the Violence Against Women Act which was signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. VAWA is not active, having expired in 2019, because a new version contained protections for transgender women, and a ban on people convicted of domestic violence ever purchasing a firearm.
Joe Biden created legislation to help victims of domestic and sexual violence. Kamala Harris prosecuted sexual predators. I am a survivor of sexual and domestic violence. This is very personal for me.
Donald Trump has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” without their permission. He has bragged about walking into the dressing rooms of underage pageant contestants so he could see them naked. He has been credibly accused by over twenty women of sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment, including being accused in a sworn statement of raping a 13-year-old girl who was being trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
Trump’s “presidency” has been traumatic for victims and survivors, myself included. Because having a “president” who has been accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, who has been accused of raping E. Jean Carroll, who was close friends with a sex trafficker and rapist, and who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, tells us that our pain doesn’t matter.
Our pain does matter to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In a Biden administration, VAWA will be reauthorized, groups that help victims and survivors will once again have funding, and we will have a president who, unlike Donald Trump, does not believe you have to treat women like “shit.” We will have a president who calls his wife “Jilly,” who admitted his boundary issues with women, apologized profusely and changed his behavior, and who created legislation that, from 1994 to 2019, gave victims of sexual and domestic violence help and hope.
We will have a vice president who put sexual predators in prison where they belong, not in a minimum security work farm. We will have Kamala Harris, “Momala,” a Joyful Warrior whose empathy is tangible.
While I’m sure both have made mistakes (as have we all), for the majority of their careers, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fought for people like me. Joe Biden created VAWA, and Kamala Harris put predators in prison.
Neither Joe Biden or Kamala Harris are perfect, and no candidate is. Humans are not perfect, we are flawed and messy and sometimes, we screw up. But in the fight for the soul of this country, I would follow Joe and Kamala into battle without hesitation.
Because this election is personal.