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BuzzFeed News interviewed more than three dozen people in an investigation into allegations that Madison Cawthorn molested women in college


Addy Baird and

Brianna sacks

Posted on 26 February 2021 at 6:28 pm ET

Madison Cawthorn arrived on the small Christian campus of Patrick Henry College in Northern Virginia in the fall of 2016, exuding charm, bravery, and a sparkling white smile.His former classmates said the future member of Congress would wear his white Dodge Challenger Whip the parking lot and spoil his classmates with the story of how he survived a harrowing car accident as a teenager that left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair for life after his intense recovery, older than most students – 21 – and didn’t fit in the form of the Christian and largely sheltered freshmen who chose the Conservative School in Purcellville for their dedication to God and strict academics, and former Patrick Henry students said it wasn’t long before women on campus started seeing each other to warn: you don’t want to be alone with him, esp ers in his car

BuzzFeed News spoke to more than three dozen people, including more than two dozen former college students, their friends and relatives, who described incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct on campus, in Cawthorn’s car, and at his nearby home or Campus Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn, now a rising Republican star, was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory towards them. Her allegations include publicly calling her derogatory names in front of her peers, including one woman as “dirty” denote asking them inappropriate questions about their sex life, grabbing their thighs, forcing them to sit on his lap and kissing and touching them without their consent.One of these women is now interning for another Republican member of the Congress and passed Cawthorn in the corridors of the Capitol According to more than a dozen people – including three women who had firsthand experience and seven people who heard of these incidents at the time – Cawthorn often used his car to lock in, harass his classmates and take them on what could be “fun drives” “Call off campus Two said he was driving recklessly and asking about their virginity and sexual experiences while locked in the moving vehicle.”

“I realized he was taking me out of nowhere, Virginia,” said Caitlin Coulter, a former classmate who took him for a ride in her senior year. and I just felt so uncomfortable and nervous and not even something I thought I could put a finger on at the time, just a danger warning ”

BuzzFeed News sent Cawthorn a detailed list of the allegations in that story. His communications director, Micah Bock, did not respond to the specific allegations, but referred BuzzFeed News to comments the young Republican made during a campaign debate in September: “I did Never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life, “said Cawthorn

“When I have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a world where people have to ask explicitly before touching her,” he said during the debate. “If I had a son, I want that he can grow up in a world where he is not called a sexual predator if he tries to kiss someone ”

Today, Cawthorn is a 25-year-old first-year member of Congress, the youngest ever elected, from Hendersonville, North Carolina in the 2020 primary, he caused a surprise surprise with Republican Lynda Bennett, the preferred candidate of the former President Donald Trump, by basing himself on Trump’s own strategy: bombastic attacks against the left and open support for conspiracy theories

Cawthorn has made his Christian faith a central part of his political identity and even said in an interview with Jewish Insider shortly after winning his race last November that he tried to convert Jewish and Muslim people to Christianity, “The Lord and the Bible and the value systems I’ve received through Judeo-Christian values, “he said,” it affects every single decision I make. He also often posts about his beliefs on Instagram, shares photos of the Bible, and writes about how much prayer and the Lord lift him up and lead him through the battlefields of life ”

Cawthorn fraternized with rising far-right stars ahead of his election, posting photos and fitness selfies with representatives of QAnon supporters Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene and other members of the Patriot Movement, a collection of extremist, nationalist groups working within the Republican Party have gained a foothold

Charismatic and active on Twitter and Telegram, the new lawmaker, like the former president and his allies, has worked to form a picture of himself as a “true patriot” whose mission is to drain the swamp and his supporters protect from the radical left while advocating for members of the military – despite the fact that he lied about his future at the Naval Academy, he was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention last summer, and in recent months he has been known for being at the forefront of efforts to dismiss presidential election results and perpetuating outrageous lies about electoral fraud, many of which he has since declined after backlash

Cawthorn speaks to Trump supporters at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, DC, Jan 6

The newly elected legislature also spoke on Jan 6 “Stop the Steal” rally just before the Capitol riot, where he told cheering Trump supporters that the “crowd is having a fight” and that Democrats and Republicans “were trying to silence your voices.” He regrets that comment not, he said, but like other Trumpians who know when to draw the line between traditional, palatable conservatism and right-wing extremism, Cawthorn condemned the rioters and called their actions “despicable” ”

Long before Cawthorn’s role as the figurehead for the new law gained national appeal, people who attended school with him at Patrick Henry College said they were stunned to see him stepping up to race in North Carolina, they told BuzzFeed News, they remembered him as one of the few Trump supporters on their small conservative campus, where, according to more than two dozen former students, he had a reputation for mistreating women at school
Trump, meanwhile, made a name for herself in politics with relentless gender-based attacks on Hillary Clinton, then Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly, and Sen on Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi The Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump described himself [Women] grabbed by the pussy was released by Patrick Henry a few months after Cawthorn launched

As Cawthorn began his own political career, his former classmates expressed shock and dismay in private Facebook groups and text messages seen on BuzzFeed News They said he was “chauvinist” on campus only a few years earlier and discussed allegations of sexual misconduct against him by female students

Some reached out during his campaign to share their experiences with Cawthorn on social media and in private. Last August, World Magazine published the reports of three women saying the young Conservative sexually molested and verbally assaulted them, one of them Women was among those who spoke to BuzzFeed News for this story. Cawthorn clearly denied the allegations, telling the Daily Caller that the story was “a mix of half-truths, falsehoods and possibly fabricated allegations.”

Then, in October, more than 160 members of the Patrick Henry Community signed an open letter stating “gross misconduct towards their peers, public misrepresentation of their past, disorderly behavior that violates the school’s student code of honor, and self- “admitted that academic failures, including the Cawthorn, created a reputation for predatory behavior. After the letter was published, Cawthorn told ABC 13 that it was based on rumors, and his campaign wrote in a Facebook post that he had the support of “a significant number of PHC alumni and alumni who knew him well. The mail was signed by only six people. Two worked for the campaign and a third was one of her relatives.”

Patrick Henry officials, including the school president, ignored repeated emails and calls from BuzzFeed News regarding Cawthorn’s alleged sexual misconduct and behavior problems.The only officer who responded was Paul Yancey, the campus security chief, who refused to ask questions to comment on the alleged wrongdoing

While Cawthorn has labeled women’s reports of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior as politically motivated lies, this new investigation of his time at Patrick Henry College provides an in-depth investigation into the allegations against the North Carolina representative and reveals previously unreported details More than 20 former Patrick Henry students told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn molested his classmates, the students either said they experienced firsthand his sexually inappropriate behavior, comforted friends after a traumatizing incident, or were warned of his behavior by their dormitory managers, Though Cawthorn was only a little over a semester at the school, the students said he quickly developed a reputation for taking advantage of and abusing women
However, former classmates also remember Cawthorn as being magnetic and ambitious, delivering almost too firm handshakes, hanging out with almost everyone he has met, and flirting with and befriending many female classmates with a former high school Soccer player and avid athlete – his Instagram feed is riddled with videos claiming he was training for the 2020 Paralympic Games, which wasn’t true – Cawthorn exuded a jock personality at school, classmates said he soon formed a small group from people seven of whom were alumni said BuzzFeed News was known on campus as the “Douche Crew”

Cawthorn (far right) with Diego Lastra (third from left), Micah Bock (third from right) and Blake Harp (second from right) at a Christmas ball 2016

The students also said they were known for speeding around the small campus in their noisy sports cars and playing destructive pranks.Two of his best friends at Patrick Henry, Micah Bock and Blake Harp, later became an integral part of his congressional campaign and administered Its Communications and Social Media. You are now Cawthorn’s top adviser to Congress and serve as its communications director and director, respectively Chief of Staff

According to former students familiar with the conversations, reports of Cawthorn’s behavior in the fall of 2016 quickly became a matter of concern and concern to the school’s assistants, the student leaders living and managing the dormitories Duties such as enforcing the school’s code of honor and completing student life policies and conducting Bible studies twice a week

Two RAs told BuzzFeed News that shortly after Cawthorn arrived at PHC, they warned students in their dormitories to avoid him and to say no if he ever asked them to ride with him in his Challenger

“I received information from other RAs to warn the student not to ride him on joy rides because bad things happened on those joy rides,” said Giovanna Lastra, one of the former RAs who warned her students ” Our school was full of girls with Christian backgrounds and there was a high level of naivety ”

A third RA, Philip Bunn, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he had “heard from female RAs advising girls to avoid [Cawthorn]”

Becca Webb, now a special needs student teacher in Lawrenceville, Georgia, remembers her RA and makes it clear that she should keep her distance from Cawthorn and “to make sure we told the other girls too”

Soon Giovanna said that students in their dorm and friend circles had traumatizing encounters with him that both shook and angered them. An encounter the 27-year-old remembers vividly was that of Caitlin Coulter

Caitlin Coulter, PhD student and lecturer at the University of Kentucky, at her home in Lexington, Kentucky

It was fall 2016 and Coulter and her boyfriend had recently split up when she said Cawthorn, a well-known and confident new student, had started texting her It was a tough, painful time and she felt isolated and vulnerable Cawthorn was sweet and polite, she remembered, and when he asked her to take a ride, she said yes. But when she was in the car the energy changed, she told BuzzFeed News. she said asking about the purity ring on her finger which she thought was an attempt to get her to talk about sex.She said she was nervous and insecure for almost 20 minutes she said she refused the invasive and answer suggestive questions, and closed him up until he snapped

He whipped the car around and drove recklessly back to campus, Coulter recalled. She said she had to hold onto her seat for part of the drive back

“It was really scary,” she said, “And I just remember being very happy to get home safely”

Giovanna, the former RA, was there when Coulter returned to the dormitory that night.She recalls that Coulter looked confused and didn’t know what to do with what had happened to her

“She was shaken,” said Giovanna. “She felt insecure and nervous and said,” He didn’t do anything to me, but I was afraid he would “After this scenario I had to go through my wing again and warn girls not to get in his car because it was dangerous ”

Coulter said she was embarrassed by the experience and couldn’t say why it felt “gross” to her, but said that Cawthorn never texted her again and she tried to get him to stay with Patrick for the rest of his time To avoid Henry in the summer of 2019, while staying with a friend ahead of Cawthorn’s Congressional campaign, she said she had checked out what had happened that night

Her friend, a PHC colleague who wanted to remain anonymous because of her job preventing her from speaking publicly, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Coulter had told her about the experience and recalled that she was about Cawthorn had to speak

“He had a nice car and things like that, but it always seemed a little slimy, I think. He was handsome and he knew it, so you could tell he was using that to his advantage,” Coulters said Coulter’s boyfriend also lived with a junior student who dated and briefly engaged to Cawthorn during his brief time on campus. Almost every Patrick Henry student who spoke to BuzzFeed News brought up his engagement Friends Recalled In a 2017 filing related to a lawsuit with an insurer over his car accident, first brought to light by Asheville Watchdog in 2020, Cawthorn said this woman was “more reluctant and she I like to take time for things, think a lot. And I am much more passionate and like to do things quickly. “She broke up with him and he then fell in love s “heartbreak” withdrew from school, “he told lawyers at the time

At first, Leah Petree, a current Capitol Hill Republican intern and former PHC student, said that Cawthorn’s anger at taking her on a “fun ride” during class was mostly just annoying, but soon, she said, it began asked to face her more, reached for her notebook during a class, scribbled across the page, and asked her to go out with him. Petree told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn lasted for weeks despite repeatedly reminding him that she had a boyfriend She said he didn’t stop

There was a disabled driver parking lot outside her dorm, and Cawthorn often parked in front of her building and called her as she crossed campus asking her to go for a drive with him, Petree said she was feeling so uncomfortable that she would check if he was outside before leaving the building

“It has caused such varied lifestyle changes,” said Petree, who also described his attempts to talk to her during class as distracting and embarrassing. “This is unfortunate and certainly unacceptable”

Petree and many other students who visited Patrick Henry with Cawthorn said his behavior was far from how he presented himself at campus events and in speeches, in interviews, almost all of them said that a certain moment was noticed

School officials invited freshmen to speak in the chapel in January 2017, a rare honor usually reserved for seniors. During his address, which BuzzFeed News received from, Cawthorn shared a compelling story with the entire student body, as well as some professors and staff and terrifying story about the day his life changed: in a car accident on the way back from a spring 2014 trip, he was paralyzed and questioned God. In his story in the chapel, Cawthorn said his best friend, his “brother”, had fled and ran to safety He was passed out to die “in a fiery grave” with flames licking his legs. The crash, he said, also ruined his plans to attend the Naval Academy. The trip to Annapolis to serve the country was a major one Part of its history and eventually became an important line in several interviews, campaign speeches and advertisements

But the students didn’t find out he was misleading them about his life changing moment until Asheville Watchdog released the 2017 filing last year in which Cawthorn said he was and will be expelled from the academy prior to his injury The best friend actually pulled him out of the car and saved his life

Both Petree and Coulter said that after their private encounters with Cawthorn, it was difficult to sit in the chapel in 2017 and listen to him talk about his relationship with the Lord and become emotional about his intention as a Christian

“To have to sit this man on a stage and listen to him talk to us about his closeness to God or the events in his life and to know our experience with him was really disappointing,” said Petree

Although he presented himself as cool and easy to get along with, Cawthorn had a temper, former classmates said he snapped and screamed and often threw derogatory remarks at women in which more than five PHC alumni said it was part of his behavior pattern >

At a basketball game in 2017 after Cawthorn left school, Webb, the teacher, said she was trying to get the crowd to cheer on her team when he yelled at them, “Shut up, woman!” Two people told BuzzFeed News about the interaction and one of Webb’s best friends said it was part of a “rude and misogynistic” pattern

A few months earlier, in the fall of 2016, Petree said she had a similar experience eating at a booth in the dining room with several other students, including Cawthorn, Bock, and Harp, according to Petree and two other people present Cawthorn, asking the people at the table how many people they’d kissed or had physical relationships with, and specifically asked about their previous partners’ races after an awkward exchange about Petree not wanting to be with men younger than they were, Petree and the others in attendance said, Cawthorn had become aggressive

“And suddenly he snaps at me in a tone and degree of anger that no one has spoken to me since then. He snaps at me that I was just a ‘little blond kinky American girl’ and yells at me this across the table, at a table of our colleagues – our Christian, Conservative colleagues – via a comment in response to an inappropriate, just amazing conversation he initiated, “said Petree

She walked out of the dining room with her friend Diego Lastra, Giovanna’s younger brother who was also in attendance, followed Diego had hung out with Cawthorn and his friends for about a semester when they were all freshmen and remembers looking for Petree to see if she was okay after the “kinky” comment Diego said repeated instances of this type of behavior by Cawthorn had caused him to withdraw from the group

When they hung out, Diego said it felt like the connection his college didn’t have.He said the boys were making vulgar jokes One day early in the spring semester, then 18-year-old Diego, said Cawthorn had him and drove some of her friends to her home for a party when Cawthorn asked, “Which breed of girls do the best blowjobs?” Cawthorn then cut him off, said Diego, and answered his own question: “White girls are the worst, black girls are second, Asian girls are best. Another PHC student who was in the car confirmed the story.”

Diego and the other PHC student said the boys in Cawthorn’s Circle bragged about these nighttime rides and telling stories about touching women and making them look like “conquests” Diego said Cawthorn would talk about how he would get women to sit on his lap, and one night at a party at his house he was telling a story about a classmate he pulled onto his lap and then put his finger between her legs as she squirmed, saying Diego , he remembered Cawthorn saying, “Girls like this stuff”

There have been other reports of inappropriate touching by Cawthorn Katrina Krulikas and Francesca McDaniel, neither of whom visited Patrick Henry, told World Magazine that he kissed her violently while a PHC alumnus told the magazine that he had her thigh under her dress – an incident that two friends of this woman told BuzzFeed News around the time

Krulikas, who knew Cawthorn from the small homeschool community they both grew up in, also spoke to BuzzFeed News about this story during Cawthorn’s campaign last year, she wrote on Instagram that he attacked her in 2014 when she was 17 and he was 19 Cawthorn invited her and drove her to the spot in the woods she said. When they got there, he asked her about her sexual history. She tried to laugh at him, but it got more uncomfortable

“In the end he asks me to come closer to him and sit on his lap. I laughed at it as a joke and he says he just wants to come closer and talk, so I’m sitting on his lap trying at this point.” he kissed me and I say no, “23-year-old Krulikas told BuzzFeed News.” And we talk a little more, and then he grabs me very quickly, somehow surprising, so I didn’t have time to get away. ” P>

Krulikas said some of her hair was stuck in Cawthorn’s wheelchair when he grabbed her and to free herself she had to pull some of her hair out of her scalp

She recalled that after he drove her back to her parked car, she texted a friend that she had a “really bad feeling” about the date and that Cawthorn had given her “rapey vibes” “BuzzFeed News spoke to two friends of Krulikas who said she told them about the experience – one shortly after the date and the other in the summer of 2019 – before making a public statement

Cawthorn and his co-workers downplayed and defended his behavior On the afternoon of Election Day 2020, a PHC alumnus appeared at a polling station in River, North Carolina to alert voters of allegations of sexual misconduct against Cawthorn In a film exchange obtained from BuzzFeed News, the former college student approaches Cawthorn and then lists the names of women he allegedly molested.Cawthorn’s sunny demeanor instantly changes and he replies, “What you say is categorically wrong, I’ve never had one Chased woman I treat every woman with honor, dignity and respect ”

In another taped conversation that afternoon, Bock, his communications manager, disagreed that Cawthorn molested or assaulted women. In exchange, Bock said that before he began working on the campaign, Bock said he spoke to the women who Cawthorn ran out of at PHC to get their accounts and then met with his friend to “see if their stories are lined up”

“I’ve concluded that [Cawthorn] has kissed some people, but I don’t think kissing is sexual assault,” says Bock in the video received from BuzzFeed News, “I don’t think kissing is of a person is in any way equivalent to sexual assault ”

According to news from BuzzFeed News, Cawthorn also reached Krulikas on February 3, 2020, after a text exchange when one of her friends responded to what she thought was an automated campaign text asking for her vote that she was not for Cawthorn would vote for attacking her friend. Soon, however, Cawthorn texted Krulikas to apologize for kissing her against her will

“I remember you and I was on a campfire date years ago and I remember asking if I could kiss you, you said no but I thought you were just shy and then you did I kissed you really quick and that’s all I remember, “he wrote in the text.” I can see in retrospect how that went over the line, and I’m sorry. Anyway, if I ever make you uncomfortable or insecure, I’m so sorry. That was never my intention ”

Despite Cawthorn’s apologies to Krulikas, in his statement to BuzzFeed News for this story, Bock referred to the refusals Cawthorn had made in the campaign debate to ever “do anything sexually inappropriate,” and Bock also brushed off the allegations in that story incorrectly said that they had all been collected beforehand

“These questions were asked and answered repeatedly throughout the campaign. The voters of Western North Carolina responded to these allegations by giving Madison Cawthorn a 12-point victory over his opponent,” said Bock. “Rep Cawthorn is now with it busy doing the job he was chosen to do, including helping our economies recover from the pandemic, creating jobs and opportunities, affording health care, protecting our natural environment, and defending life and our rights according to the second amendment to the constitution ”

But Bock himself allegedly had non-consensual physical contact, according to Petree, the current Republican intern at the Capitol. She said Bock repeatedly pressed his body – first his arm and later his genitals against her – while she was at the after a pool party Year 2016, in which Cawthorn did not participate, slept in a house with friends

Petree said she dodged Bock’s touch all night and told a friend who was attending the party with her to sleep next to her to keep him away from her but when she woke up in the middle of the night was it was his body pressed against hers, his arm wrapped around her

“I remember physically taking his arm and saying,” What are you doing? ” I physically picked him up and pushed him off and said, “You have to stop, stop,” she recalled,

But when she woke up a few hours later, Petree said Bock was still there and arched around her like a spoon, “I could feel hard genitals. It was like I could feel him pushing into me and just.” it was like that, no, “said Petree

Later that day, she said she had a message from Bock asking how she was

“He says to me, ‘You definitely weren’t really sleeping, you wanted it,” she recalled, “That’s what he tells me. And I just remember that I was like getting into this text fight with him What are you talking about? “

Her boyfriend and girlfriend, who Petree said asked to sleep next to her, told BuzzFeed News that she told them about the incident the next morning

Later that school year, Petree’s friend Preston Burgess visited her with Patrick Henry. He told BuzzFeed News that he refused to shake Bock when he met Bock and that Bock then told him she “asked about it have “”

In a text message to BuzzFeed News, Bock said that Petree’s claim was “totally false”, and did not respond to further requests for an interview or a more detailed comment

Petree’s mother, Rebecca Powell, recalled BuzzFeed News that her daughter told her about the incident a few months later. Powell, a self-described Republican and Christian, said her daughter had told her Bock was “sexually aggressive” and that he came after her at the party and “attacked her with his harshness” ”

“As an older woman, it was very annoying to hear what she described as a young virgin girl at the time,” Powell said

In March 2018, Powell said she met with the dean of student life to discuss concerns about her daughters at school After that meeting, she said she decided to go buck herself and went to the men’s dormitory said she asked him: “Who do you think you will touch my daughter like that? You cannot sexually molest my daughter ”

“Why don’t you touch me the way you touched my daughter?” she said she told buck “I pushed him across the room with my presence Trying to make him feel like he made my daughter feel”

Powell recalled Bock telling her she was wrong and that it was all a misunderstanding (Bock and the school didn’t respond to a request for comment)

While his former classmates said Cawthorn had a good reputation on campus, it wasn’t until the beginning of his tenure that his colleagues began to dig into how they said he treated them during his brief stint at their school after a little more than a semester, Cawthorn did not return to campus in statements he said it was due to “heartbreak” that his fiancé left him and that he earned mostly D grades

As the election drew near, Patrick Henry alumni became increasingly concerned that Cawthorn might win the race for 11th, according to screenshots of chats from a private PHC Facebook group verified by BuzzFeed News Winning District of North Carolina and Landing in Washington Could a Legislature For many of them, sharing their allegations of harassment – especially in a conservative Christian room against a former classmate who is running for Congress as the standard bearer of their own party – has been and is terrifying Several women told BuzzFeed News that they were too scared to speak because Cawthorn and his allies might be able to do something given the size of their circle, but many others felt that speaking out was a moral obligation beyond politics >

“Our college was full of very conservative people, many of them working in the White House under Trump,” said Webb, the teacher for special needs students. “And the students who signed the letter were Republicans, Democrats, or anyone in between you disagreed on our Facebook group but found common ground that Madison should not be elected. He does not embody the values ​​that are important to us as former PHC students ”

Coulter, who helped draft the letter many PHC alumni signed during his campaign to denounce Cawthorn, said she couldn’t help but feel discouraged that voters had voted for him

“I think it’s important that those in power have integrity … or have the requisite qualifications,” she said. “My experience with Madison Cawthorn has shown he doesn’t” ●

BuzzFeed News interviewed more than three dozen people in an investigation into allegations that Madison Cawthorn molested women in college

Madison Cawthorn

World News – USA – “Danger Warning”: Women say Madison Cawthorn harassed them in college

Source: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/addybaird/madison-cawthorn-sexual-misconduct-allegations-patrick