Hillary Clinton said on Monday that victims of sexual assault have the “right to be believed,” a shift from how the Clintons and their aides have previously treated women and girls who have made sexual assault accusations.
During a speech at the University of Northern Iowa, Clinton spoke out strongly for the rights of sexual assault victims and said she pledged to work to address the problem on college campuses.
“I want to send a message to all of the survivors,” she said. “Don’t let anyone silence your voice, you have the right to be heard, the right be believed, and we are with you as you go forward.”
The comments are a reversal from how the Clintons have responded to sexual assault accusations throughout their careers.
During Bill Clinton’s presidency, multiple women who came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment or assault were subjected to public and private attacks on their credibility by the Clinton camp.
Juanita Broaddrick, who says she was raped by Bill Clinton in 1978, claimed she was personally threatened by Hillary Clinton after she came forward in 1998.
Kathleen Willey, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment her at the White House, said Hillary Clinton “orchestrated a terror campaign against every one of these women, including me.”
Paula Jones, the woman who sued Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, was dismissed as trailer trash by Clinton aides, who hinted that she was just trying to make money off her accusations. Clinton eventually settled the case for $850,000.
When Hillary Clinton served as the court-appointed attorney for a 40-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 1975, she targeted the accuser’s credibility in court records.
The girl was “emotionally unstable” and had the “tendency to seek out older men,” Clinton wrote in a court affidavit.
Clinton later suggested that she believed the man was guilty of raping the girl in an audiotaped interview obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. During the case she helped her client plead down to lesser charges and got him a significantly reduced jail sentence.
According to one of Hillary Clinton’s closest friends, the late Diane Blair, the former First Lady was also dismissive of the women who came forward to accuse former senator Bob Packwood of sexual harassment in the 1990s.
Clinton said she was “tired of all those whiney women” because she needed Packwood’s support on health care reform, Blair wrote in her diary.