Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck said rape accusation was “a case of buyer’s remorse”

It must be election season because the outrageous comments from politicians just keep coming. Up today: Colorado’s Republican Senate candidate and professional victim-blamer Ken Buck dismissed a rape charge as “a case of buyer’s remorse.”

The Colorado Independent reported on Monday that Buck, a Tea Partier and anti-choicer, refused to prosecute a rape case back in 2005 when he was Weld County District Attorney for the most classic of bullshit victim-blaming reasons.

That facts of the case seem pretty clear-cut: The victim was drunk and passing in and out of consciousness as she said “no” and tried to push her attacker away. And that’s not just what she said—it’s what he said too. According to the police report, the suspect said he recalled “the victim rolling over and saying no” and afterward tried to wake her up enough to apologize. In a taped conversation later he even explicitly admitted that it was rape.

But to Buck the fact that the attacker was the victim’s ex-boyfriend and she had invited him over that night changed everything. From the transcript of Buck’s meeting with the victim published in the Independent:

Buck: Because when you look at what happened earlier in the night, all the circumstances, based on his statements and some of your statements, indicate that you invited him to come to your apartment … that you told him how to get in…It would appear to me and it appears to others that you invited him over to have sex with him. Whether that you, at that time, were conscious enough to say yes or no…?

Victim: So you’re telling me that previous sexual relations is enough to provide consent, and you’re telling me that because of me calling him and because of previous sexual relations and because I invited him up and told him how to get in, that invited him up for sex…

Buck: I’m telling you that’s what the circumstances suggest, to people, including myself, who have looked at it. Although, you never said the word yes, but the appearance is of consent.

Victim: Even though, he also stated that I told him no.

That’s right—according to Buck, the appearance of consent somehow overrode the actual and verifiable lack of consent in the form of that supposedly magic word “no.”

Later in the transcript, Buck implies that the victim may have an ulterior motive for wanting to “get back at” the suspect because she’d previously gotten pregnant by him and considered having an abortion before miscarrying. If you’re trying to figure how that makes any sense at all…well, so am I.

This kind of blatant, reprehensible victim-blaming is so common it’s hard not to get totally demoralized reading a story like this. But I’m heartened by the courage and persistence of the victim, who has worked as a rape victims’ advocate herself. After her unsuccessful meeting with Buck, she organized a protest at the DA’s office and spoke to the media, forcing him to respond. And she’s still demanding to be heard today. As she told Buck at the end of their meeting:

“[I]f we decide to take it to a judge, then this will be very public, and honestly I plan on making it public. …Date rape is something that happens; it is against the law…I’m hearing that a jury won’t buy it, but I’m prepared to have that conversation as to why. …Is that it? Thank you very much.”

Yes, let’s continue to have that conversation—and in the meantime, let’s also make sure Ken Buck isn’t elected to the U.S. Senate. Coloradans—if you need even more reasons not to vote for the guy, remember that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, until recently supported the so-called Personhood Amendment (he decided on second thought that banning birth control was a bit too much), and thinks you should vote for him because he doesn’t wear high heels.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Kat

    Perhaps I’m just young and naive, but how is it that this sort of thing is permissible? How is it that nobody tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hey man, shut up and think about this for a second?” That reads like a sick joke, not a record of something that actually happened.

  • Elizabeth

    This really chills my bones. The victim appears to understand the law better than this attorney who should be upholding it. It makes me so sad to know that even in this day and age it’s ok to rape “those kinds of girls.” The last time I checked saying no to sex meant that you didn’t want to have sex, whether you wanted to three days ago or three minutes ago has no bearing on what you want at that moment. I cannot imagine the additonal pain that this victim must have suffered after being told that she simply had “buyers remorse” despite clearly stating no, which the perpetrator even admitted to hearing.

  • Maya Jenkins

    Oookay, so, I read this and was disgusted. Then, instead of leaving in a huff, I actually did something about it: I went on YouTube and found as many Ken Buck videos as I could and posted the following comment to each one:

    “Just so everyone knows: Ken Buck refers to rape as “buyer’s remorse”. In 2005 he refused to prosecute a rape case because he sided with the rapist who himself explicitly admitted that what he had done was in fact rape.

    Let that marinate for a bit.”

    I want as many people to know what kind of many they COULD be voting for. In the event that my comments are deleted, I will re-post them. If I’m blocked from posting altogether, I’ll get the message out somehow. It’s one thing to talk about this stuff amongst ourselves, but I feel like everyone needs to be apprised of what kind of person Buck is.

    • Alex

      That’s a wonderful idea! I’m gonna start doing that as I’m on yt all the time. How have people responded?

      • Maya Jenkins

        Search “Ken Buck” on YouTube. My YT username is EmpressJudge13. Come see for yourself.

  • cycomatto

    What this survivor is doing is remarkable and courageous, yes, but I think it has even grander implications.

    The survivor’s actions sound like a textbook example for other survivors to follow. Her questions and statements to at all parties, police, the rapist, and Buck, are all perfectly direct and straightforward, exposing answers like Bucks as ridiculous and sexist.

    If this case does become public enough, hopefully it will inspire and educate enough of the population so that future rape survivors will have an excellent example to follow to find justice.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    This is beyond reprehensible! It seems like each teabagger party candidate that makes headlines is crueler and more inhumane than the last. Whether it’s their views on choice, LGBT rights, masturbation, and now rape. It appalls and sickens me that Ken Buck has enough credibilty to even HAVE a politcal career!

  • Corey Jones

    There are several important facts which Buck seems to not have realized. 1- if a person is drunk they lack the ability to give consent. Therefore even if the victum had said yes to the sex it still would have legally been rape as she was not have been able to legally give consent in her drunken state. 2- if a person says “no” to sex, and the other person continues anyway, it’s rape. So even if the victum hadn’t physically resisted her assailant it still would have been rape because she said “no”. 3- no matter what the relation is between two people a person always has the right to refuse sex. Even though the assailant was the victum’s ex-boyfriend she still had just as much right to refuse sex from him and him having sex with her anyway is still just as much rape. 4- whether a person’s actions seem to suggest that sex was desired or not has nothing to do with consent. (Although this is not what the victum did in this case) a person has every right to come on to someone else, even promise sex, and then refuse. I’m surprised that Buck even managed to graduate law school without a basic understanding of the law. Perhaps he should be sent back to school until he learns something.