Jeffrey Epstein: Two guards suspended and warden removed over death

Metropolitan Correctional CenterThe Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein died

Two prison guards have been suspended and a warden temporarily reassigned at the New York City jail where Jeffrey Epstein died of suspected suicide.

It comes after the FBI opened an investigation into the death of Epstein, who was facing prosecution for sex trafficking when he was found dead.

The suspension, ordered by Attorney General William Barr, came a day after he criticised the jail’s “failure”.

The circumstance surrounding the financier’s death has raised questions.

It remains unclear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch after an attempted suicide last month. He also was supposed to have been checked in on by a guard every 30 minutes.

Before his downfall, Epstein had previously counted many prominent rich and powerful people, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as friends.

What did the Department of Justice say?

In a statement, Mr Barr “directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign” warden Lamine N’Diaye to a regional office, pending a full investigation.

He will be replaced by James Petrucci, the warden of the federal prison in Otisville, New York.

Courtroom sketch of Jeffrey EpsteinImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionEpstein faced up to 45 years in jail if convicted

Two other staff members who were assigned to Epsteins’ unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) have also been placed on leave.

“Additional actions may be taken as the circumstances warrant,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, a union official for workers at the jail told the Washington Post that one of the guards on Epstein’s unit on Saturday – when he died – was not a regular correctional officer, but rather another form of prison employee who was directed to operate as a guard due to staffing shortages.

Both guards working on his unit were working overtime shifts, but it’s unclear whether they were doing so voluntarily.

The union representing federal prison guards, the American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals, said in a statement after Epstein’s death that many guards are forced to work overtime.

In a statement provided to BBC News, the organisation’s president Eric Young said prison employees who are not correctional officers – such as teachers, nurses, clerical workers – are often made to guard inmates due to a process known as “augmentation”.

What has Trump said?

President Donald Trump told reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday: “I want a full investigation, and that’s what I absolutely am demanding.

“That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general, is doing. He’s doing a full investigation.”

He also defended his decision to retweet conspiracy theory that suggested that the Clinton family had Epstein killed.

“He’s a very highly respected conservative pundit,” Mr Trump said of comedian Terrence K Williams, who wrote the original post.

“He’s a big Trump fan. And that was a retweet. That wasn’t from me… So I think I was fine.”

Media caption‘Any co-conspirators should not rest easy’

The order comes one day after Mr Barr said he was “frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner.”

He added: “We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.”

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez murder: Chicago police make three arrests

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at Chicago police headquarters about the arrest of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, IllinoisChicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called the murder of Ms Ochoa-Lopez “disgusting and thoroughly disturbing”

Three people have been charged over the murder of a nine months-pregnant teenager whose baby was then cut from her body.

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, disappeared on 23 April. Her body was found three weeks later on 15 May.

Her baby remains “in grave condition”, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24, have been charged with her murder.

Clarisa Figueroa’s partner Piotr Bobak, 40, was charged with concealment of a homicide.

Detectives say they were first alerted to Clarisa Figueroa on 7 May – two weeks after Ms Ochoa-Lopez’s disappearance – when friends of the teen directed police to her Facebook account where she had made arrangements with Ms Figueroa to pick up baby clothes.

Police allege that Ms Figueroa then lured Ms Ochoa-Lopez inside her home and, with the help of her daughter, strangled the 19-year-old with a cable. Once Ms Ochoa-Lopez had died, her baby was forcibly removed from her womb.

“Words really cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are,” Supt Johnson said.

That same day, Ms Figueroa called paramedics to her home, in the south-west of Chicago, claiming her newborn baby was not breathing.

Ms Figueroa later started a GoFundMe campaign that she claimed was for the funeral of her dying baby, a spokeswoman for Ms Ochoa-Lopez’s family told AP news agency.

Subsequent DNA tests revealed that Ms Ochoa-Lopez was the baby’s mother.

Desiree Figueroa confessed to helping her mother strangle Ms Ochoa-Lopezwith a cable, CBS reported.

Presentational white spacePolice said Ms Ochoa-Lopez had met Clarisa Figueroa previously and had conducted prior exchanges of baby clothes.

On Thursday, Supt Johnson expressed his condolences to Ms Ochoa-Lopez’s family in the wake of her “brutal” murder.

“They should be celebrating the birth of a young baby,” he said. “Instead, they’re mourning the loss of the mother and possibly that young child.”

The three suspects are to appear in court on Friday.

US military reports major spike in sex assaults

Pentagon officials commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in March 2015Pentagon officials commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in March 2015

The US military has reported a major spike in sexual assaults despite years of efforts to address the problem.

Figures show 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2018, up from 14,900 in 2016 which is the last time a survey was conducted.

Alcohol was involved in one third of cases, and female recruits ages 17 to 24 are at the highest risk of attack.

On Thursday, Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan directed the military to “criminalise” sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can fall within other legal violations of military behaviour, but is not yet a “stand-alone” criminal offence.

The directive from Mr Shanahan was among a series of other recommendations, released in a memo on Thursday.

“Sexual assault is illegal and immoral, is inconsistent with the military’s mission and will not be tolerated,” he wrote.

In the US, sexual harassment is illegal, considered a form of sexual discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which also covers discrimination based on race, skin colour, religion and national origin.

What does the report show?

The report released on Thursday surveyed the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and estimated a total of 20,500 cases in 2018.

The total figure is based reports of attacks as well as an extrapolation of survey data which was gathered through a poll of over 100,000 troops. Researchers say the survey has a 95% level of confidence.

Incidents of unwanted sexual contact – which ranges from groping to rape – rose by around 38% between 2016 and 2018.

Only one out of three cases were reported to authorities, the report found.

In 2006, only one in 14 victims reported sexual assault crimes, the Pentagon said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Marines acknowledged they had “historically viewed an increase in reporting as an indicator Marines feel more empowered to report more confident in the care victims receive”.

“However, with the number of estimated assaults rising, especially among our young Marines, the Marine Corps must evolve its prevention methods and continue to foster a climate and culture of dignity, respect and trust,” the statement said.

In more than 85% of cases, victims knew their attacker. The majority of cases involved young women whose attacker was often a superior officer.

The report should be “a trip wire”, said Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director of the Department’ of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

“This is what tells us that there’s something going on that we need to hone in on,” he told ABC News.

“We’ve got a higher prevalence for women 17 to 24. We’re going to be focusing very, very tightly on that.”

What is the reaction?

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, told the USA Today newspaper that the military “must accept that current programmes are simply not working”.

“Congress must lead the way in forcing the department to take more aggressive approaches to fighting this scourge,” she said, calling for intervention from US lawmakers.

On Thursday, Mr Shanahan revealed some of the recommendations made by the Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force, which was created last month after the urging of Senator Martha McSally.

Senator Martha McSally: “I was ashamed and confused”

Senator McSally, who was the first female US fighter pilot to fly in combat, revealed in March that she had been raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force.

In response to the report, Mr Shanahan directed the US Department of Defence “criminalise” sexual harassment “to combat this scourge”.

He detailed prevention, accountability and support efforts in order to “eliminate” sexual assault, including new methods of identifying repeat offenders.

“We must, and will, do better,” he wrote in the memo.

It is unclear if he would need congressional approval to make changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the US military’s legal code, to make the offence a “stand-alone crime”.

In his memo, Mr Shanahan also announced plans to train commanders in a new programme to uncover serial sex offenders.

“To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other,” Mr Shanahan said.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot shrink from facing the challenge head on.”

In a series of tweets, Gen Robert B. Neller, the highest ranking officer in the US Marine Corps, joined in condemning the behaviour captured by the study.

According to the report, compared with the Navy, Army, Air force and Coast guard, the Marines had the highest rates of sexual assault throughout the US Armed Forces – sitting at 11%.

“Marines know that sexual assault is a crime,” Gen Neller wrote. “We are better than this.”

Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential contender Kirsten Gillibrand also responded on Twitter, calling on Congress to take action where the defence department has “repeatedly failed”.

Sen Gillibrand has been an outspoken advocate of victims of sexual assault and has pressed for legislation to make it easier to prosecute sexual violence in the military.

In her tweets, she cited a 2013 statement from the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest US military post – that called sexual assault in the military a “crisis”.

Mohamed Noor, US policeman guilty of Australian Justine Damond’s murder

Mohamed Noor pictured in two police mugshotsMohamed Noor was taken into custody upon his conviction

A former policeman in the US state of Minnesota has been found guilty of murdering an unarmed Australian woman.

Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond as she approached his patrol car to report a possible rape behind her Minneapolis home on 15 July 2017.

Noor, 33, testified last week that he opened fire because he feared he and his partner were being ambushed.

Ms Damond, 40, a yoga instructor from Sydney, was engaged and was due to marry a month after the shooting.

The death drew international criticism and Australia’s prime minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable”.

Noor was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately upon being convicted by a jury on Tuesday of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He was acquitted of the most serious charge of second-degree murder with intent to kill.

Australian woman Justine DamondJustine Damond

The trial heard the victim, a dual US-Australian citizen, lay dying from a gunshot wound just over a minute after ending a phone conversation with her fiance.

She had told Don Damond that police had just arrived after she called them to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind their home. No such attack was ever found to have occurred.

Noor took the stand last week to say he recalled seeing a blonde female in a pink T-shirt approach his squad car on the night of the shooting.

He said he believed there was an imminent threat after he heard a loud bang and saw Ms Damond with her right arm raised.

Noor said his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, shouted “Oh Jesus!” and fumbled with his gun in its holster before “he turned to me with fear in his eyes”.

The defendant said he “had to make a split-second decision” and shot Ms Damond across his partner through the car window.

Justine Damond’s family hold a silent vigil at a beach in Sydney last year

Noor told the court that upon realising he had shot an unarmed woman he “felt like my whole world came crashing down”.

Prosecutors questioned whether the loud bang was real, pointing out that neither Noor nor his partner initially mentioned anything at the scene about hearing such a noise.

Ms Damond’s fingerprints were not found on the squad car, the court heard.

She had moved to the Midwestern city to marry her boyfriend, Don Damond, and had adopted his surname ahead of their nuptials.

Mr Damond was in Las Vegas, Nevada, when investigators called him to say she was dead.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in court on 2 AprilNoor joined the police force in 2015

He told the court he learned from a second phone call that she had been shot by a police officer.

Mr Damond said contacting her family in Australia to tell them the news was the “worst phone call” he ever had to make.

Noor is a former Somalian refugee whose family moved to the US and settled in Minneapolis.

He joined the police force in 2015, but was sacked after being charged in the shooting.

The fallout also cost Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau her job and was a factor in the election defeat of the city’s mayor a few months later.

The Damond family have filed a civil lawsuit against the city and several police officers seeking $50m (£38m) in damages.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologised to Damond’s friends and family in a statement released after Tuesday’s verdict was read.

“This was indeed a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbours, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly in her home country of Australia,” he said.

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton accused of sexually assaulting reporter

NBA coach Luke Walton

Luke Walton is accused of sexual assault during his time as assistant coach at the Golden State Warriors

A National Basketball Association (NBA) coach is being sued for the alleged sexual assault of a sports reporter, US media report.

In the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ and ESPN, Kelli Tennant alleges Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton forced himself on her in a California hotel room.

At the time he was assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, another California NBA team, says the lawsuit.

In a statement, Mr Walton’s lawyer called the accusations “baseless”.

According to legal documents obtained by US media, Ms Tennant met Mr Walton in his suite at the Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica to give him a copy of her 2014 book.

Sports reporter Kelli Tennant
Kelli Tennant worked as a broadcaster on Spectrum SportsNet at the time of the alleged incident

Mr Walton had written the foreword to the publication, The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports.

No specific date for the alleged incident was stated in the lawsuit, according to US media.

The two had reportedly had a working relationship, stemming from Mr Walton’s time as a guest on Spectrum SportsNet, a US regional cable sports channel where Ms Tennant used to work.

She also knew Mr Walton’s wife, according to US media.

The legal action says Ms Tennant had viewed Mr Walton as a “trusted mentor and colleague”, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kelli Tennant's Instagram page
A photo from Ms Tennant’s Instagram page, which has been flooded with comments following the suit

Upon Ms Tennant’s arrival at the hotel, the lawsuit reportedly says, Mr Walton invited her to his room, ostensibly so they would not be seen by any Golden State Warriors players.

Once inside the suite, the legal action says that Mr Walton “pinned Ms Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body”, before groping her chest and groin, according to US media who have reviewed the court documents.

“She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the legal action reportedly says.

According to US media, Mr Walton’s lawyer released a statement categorically denying the allegations.

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible,” said Mark Baute.

Mr Walton was hired this month by the Sacramento Kings, after leaving the Los Angeles Lakers, where he had been head coach since 2016.

Mr Walton had previously played 10 seasons for the Lakers, before beginning his NBA coaching career with the Golden State Warriors in 2014.

All three teams responded to the allegations.

The Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors said they were aware of the report and had no further comment.

The Los Angeles Lakers statement said the alleged incident took place before he became their head coach.

“At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers,” it said.

“If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA.”

Since news of the lawsuit broke, Ms Tennant, a former volleyball player for the University of Southern California, had her Instagram page flooded with comments, many of them abusive.

ESPN reports the NBA has launched an investigation of its own into the alleged event.

Trump to bar abortion referrals by family planning clinics

Reproductive rights groups decry Trump’s latest announcement, saying it further restricts women’s rights.

Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, during the March for Life [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, during the March for Life [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

The Trump administration says it will prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, a move likely to be challenged in court by abortion rights supporters.

The administration’s plan would also prohibit family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers.

The policy released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) pleased religious conservatives, a key building block of President Donald Trump‘s political base.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has said the administration appears to be targeting them, and called the policy a “gag rule”.

“The implications of the Trump-Pence administration’s attack on Title X with a gag rule are staggering,” tweeted Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s president.

“It compromises the oath I took to serve my patiens and help them make the best decisions about their health,” she added, using #NoGagRule.

The final regulation was published Friday on an HHS website but would not be official until it appears in the Federal Register.

The department said there could be “minor editorial changes” to the regulations while a department official confirmed to the Associated Press it was the final version.

Known as Title X, the family-planning programme serves about four million women annually through independent clinics, many operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates.

The grant programme costs taxpayers about $260m a year.

One year under Trump: ‘An assault on women’s health’

Abortion is a legal medical procedure in the US, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a woman.

Restricting women

Friday’s announcement was the latest move by President Donald Trump to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

Reproductive rights groups say Trump has waged a war against them, employing policies that have harmed women’s right to choose.

Since taking office, Trump has reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which bans international organisations that receive US funding from providing abortion services or offering information about the procedure.

Trump has also appointed well-known anti-abortion rights activists to key posts within federal departments dealing with women’s health.

Last month, a US judge in California blocked a Trump administration birth control coverage rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, DC.

“It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said following the ruling. “Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law,” he added.

READ MORE

Judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states, DC

But Friday’s announcement was praised by abortion opponents.

“We are celebrating the newly finalized Title X rules that will redirect some taxpayer resources away from abortion vendors,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement.

Although federal family planning funds by law cannot be used to pay for abortions, religious conservatives have long argued that the programme indirectly subsidises Planned Parenthood.

A group representing family planning clinics decried the administration’s decision.

“This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the healthcare they need,” Clare Coleman, head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.

‘The Maine electorate has had it with her’: Constituents turn on Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.

Senator Susan Collins’s reputation for bipartisanship has brought her respect across the aisle over 22 years in Washington, D.C. But these days, the famously temperate 66-year-old senior stateswoman from Maine is inspiring the kind of liberal animus more typically directed at people named Trump.

“Betrayed” is a word that comes up.

“I used to think that she was kind of a voice of reason. I thought she could maybe go across the aisle and get some things done,” said Pam Cunningham, a Boothbay Democrat who voted for Collins last time around.

Collins’s vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has galvanized left-leaning activists like Cunningham, who are actively trying to unseat her in 2020 — and though they don’t yet have a candidate, they have raised nearly $3.8 million.

Early in the Donald Trump era, Collins was eyed optimistically by Democrats as someone who might save their day. But the Supreme Court vote was the latest in a string of positions Collins has taken where, after lengthy, attention-getting deliberations, she sided with the GOP. For some voters, hope in Collins has curdled into vengeance.

“The Maine electorate has had it with her not voting with the majority of her constituents,” said Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance, a statewide community organizing group that has about 32,000 members. “They no longer believe her claims to be a moderate.”

At the same time, the political mood in Maine has been volatile. The state supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, and after two terms of the combative conservative Governor Paul LePage, flipped the state government blue in November, handing Democrats the governor’s office, Senate, and House.

Given that backdrop, Democratic organizations were already viewing Collins as vulnerable. Now, they are trying to attach to her blame not only for her own votes, but for those of Kavanaugh.

When he, for instance, dissented on an abortion rights case this month, left-wing political organizations pounced on Collins. Demand Justice, a judicial advocacy group, launched a digital ad targeting Collins and warning, “We Won’t Forget.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee panned Kavanaugh’s ruling, calling him “Senator Collins’s Supreme Court Judge.”

Of course, Collins was alternately cheered by the right, which rewarded her mightily for her pivotal support for Kavanaugh. In the three months following the vote, Collins set a career high for quarterly fund-raising, drawing in nearly $1.8 million. The previous quarter, she had raised only $140,000.

“People generally like Susan Collins in Maine. I would never underestimate her,” said Brian Duff, a political scientist and associate professor at University of New England in Maine. “But I do think she’s uniquely vulnerable this go-round.”

Activists have been birddogging Collins since the opening days of the Trump administration, protesting Cabinet appointees and staging sit-ins in her office, said Marie Follayttar, a sculptor who founded Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The Maine People’s Alliance intends to knock on doors to reach hundreds of thousands of voters this year, highlighting Collins’s record and arguing that she is not representing Maine voters’ interests.

In a statement, Collins suggested she is still calling them like she sees them and pointed to a number of votes she has taken against her party — opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the nominations of Cabinet appointees Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos, for instance.

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“Often these outside groups, on both sides, want 100% fidelity to 100% of their views 100% of the time,” Collins said in a statement. “But I’ve always believed that neither side has a monopoly on good ideas and that in order to craft the best policy, you need to bring both sides to the table to find common ground.”

Collins also said she is accustomed to being in the public eye, “as a centrist who is willing to work across the aisle and who must often cast the deciding vote.”

But she said she is concerned “by the appalling hyperpartisanship that has repeatedly prevented us from getting things done on behalf of the American people.’’

Early on, when Collins bucked the Republican Party and voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Mainers gave her a hero’s welcome, literally cheering her return to the Bangor airport. But later she voted for a tax bill that would undo a key part of the health law, the individual mandate.

Then, the signs greeting her at the airport simply said, “Shame.’’

“Collins had given so many Mainers hope that she would protect our health care with her votes against the repeal of the ACA,” said Follayttar.

While Collins had long carefully honed her reputation as a moderate, Duff pointed to recent votes he views as “obviously problematic,” including her support for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and her vote for a tax cut package that will increase the deficit.

“She has very little chance of explaining that vote in a way that makes sense to Maine voters,” Duff said.

Conversely, he thought she was consistent in her vote for Kavanaugh, which she painstakingly explained it in a 45-minute floor speech in October. “It was articulate, thoughtful, consistent with the way she has spoken and voted through her career,” he said.

That wasn’t the way that Collins’s critics heard her speech, however.

“I have never been so disappointed in anybody in my life,” said Laurie Fear, an addictions counselor and activist who lives in Portland.

That was also an ugly and trying period for Collins, who faced protesters at home and at her offices, whose aides fielded rape and death threats. Her house was visited by a haz-mat team after she received an envelope purporting to contain ricin. Activists sent to her 3,000 coat hangers, symbolizing the tools of back-alley abortions that activists say women would resort to if Kavanaugh helped roll back abortion rights.

Anti-Kavanaugh activists also raised money and pledged to donate it to Collins’s next opponent if she voted to confirm the nomination. She called that tantamount to bribery.

“Anyone who thought I would auction off my vote to the highest bidder obviously doesn’t know me. I made my decision based on the merits of the nomination,” she said. “This effort played no role in my decision-making whatsoever.”

That is heartbreaking to such people as Cunningham — who joined other Maine women to meet Collins in Washington in hopes of persuading her to vote against Kavanaugh.

She opened up to Collins about her own attempted rape, which she had seldom spoken of, in the hopes of explaining why a woman would not immediately report a sexual assault, as was the case with the women who accused Kavanaugh.

“We all thought maybe our stories would get through to her on a personal level, a woman-to-woman kind of thing,” said Cunningham.

Later, Collins sent her a form letter that mentioned that very meeting with survivors of sexual assault as evidence of the thorough deliberations she undertook in making the decision. “She was using my story to try to portray herself in a favorable light,” Cunningham said. “I really don’t think she did take our opinions into consideration.”

Ariel Linet, a disability attorney and Portland constituent who called and visited Collins’s offices trying to urge her to vote against Kavanaugh, said she no longer views Collins as a moderate.

“I don’t think that she’s taken any brave stances against her party,” she said. “I think she’s hemmed and hawed a lot and ultimately always toed the party line.”

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