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.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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