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Monday, February 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

King County Council members clash over response to rape allegation against state Sen. Joe Fain

In this Jan. 27, 2017 photo, Senate Republican floor leader Joe Fain, R-Auburn, sits at his desk on the Senate floor in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
In this Jan. 27, 2017 photo, Senate Republican floor leader Joe Fain, R-Auburn, sits at his desk on the Senate floor in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
By Heidi Groover Seattle Times

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert is facing criticism from three of her elected colleagues over her response to a rape allegation against state Sen. Joe Fain.

Last month, Candace Faber, who lives in Seattle and previously worked in the city’s information-technology department, accused Fain of raping her in Washington, D.C., in 2007. Fain, who is up for re-election this fall, has denied the allegations.

At a campaign event for Fain on Sunday, Lambert spoke to a KUOW reporter about the allegations. In audio of the interview published by KUOW, Lambert appeared to raise questions about Faber’s behavior. On Tuesday, three other council members said they disagreed with Lambert’s comments.

Lambert said an investigation into Fain should also look into “how many allegations she’s made in the past.” Later, Lambert pointed out that Faber said she and Fain had kissed before the alleged assault.

“I tell my daughters you don’t go to a hotel room with a man who’s been drinking. You just don’t do that,” Lambert said, according to the audio. “So I think it’s a two-way street where we need to both sides be responsible for our behaviors. She did say in one thing that they were kissing very intently beforehand, so you know maybe an investigation needs to be both ways.”

In a text message to the Seattle Times, Fain said, “I strongly disagree with the connotation of Councilmember Lambert’s previous comments and have told her as much. While I absolutely did not do what has been alleged, I believe that those who come forward should be listened to and treated with respect, including Ms. Faber.”

According to Faber, she and Fain went out drinking and dancing the night she graduated with a master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2007. Later in the night, Fain drunkenly demanded she walk him back to his hotel room, where he raped her, she said.

Lambert told KUOW that Faber “admitted that she went to the room, so you know, that was probably not a good choice on her part either.”

After KUOW published the story Monday and added audio of Lambert Tuesday morning, Lambert issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“I did not, nor would I ever attack Ms. Faber or question the sincerity of her allegations,” the statement said. “As a survivor of domestic abuse, I would never do that.”

Lambert said allegations of sexual violence should be taken seriously and investigated.

“The #MeToo movement has rightfully sparked a much needed conversation in our country about sexual harassment and sexual assault, not just in the workplace but in society at large,” the statement said. “That conversation is long overdue.”

Fifteen minutes after Lambert’s statement went out, three of Lambert’s colleagues issued their own statement saying her comments to KUOW “do not represent the King County Council.”

Signed by council members Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott, the statement said, “We believe victims. We stand with survivors. We believe the past matters … While the #MeToo movement has spurred what are certainly difficult and nuanced conversations, there is absolutely no room for justification, invalidation, and victim blaming.”

Though Faber had previously told friends and family about the alleged rape, she first named Fain publicly in a tweet on Sept. 27 after watching testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh assaulted her when the two were in high school. Faber said she was inspired by Ford.

Faber has said she does not intend to file a criminal complaint or lawsuit against Fain. In a post published on Medium Monday, Faber wrote that a criminal case “in the system as it is currently designed” would not amount to justice. “Punishment for you would not generate healing for me,” she wrote to Fain. “I am seeking a broader reconciliation.”

In response to a reported comment from Lambert that “what people did 10 years ago is 10 years ago,” Faber wrote on Twitter Monday, “@KathyLambert It really doesn’t matter to you?”

Fain has denied the allegation, but has not responded to the specifics of Faber’s account.

Fain told The Seattle Times in late September that he would limit his public comments “in deference to any future investigative process.” In a statement to KUOW Sunday night, Fain said: “I was shocked to learn that I was being accused of the conduct she has described as my memory of the events do not coincide with her allegations. I am again asking that she be afforded the utmost respect during what I believe must be a difficult time for her as well.”

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