Rand Paul denies college ‘kidnapping,’ but memory fuzzy on ‘Aqua Buddha’

By David Edwards and Diana Sweet
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 13:36 EDT
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Kentucky Senate hopeful Rand Paul turned to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto yesterday to deny a recent report from GQ that he’d kidnapped a teammate while attending Baylor University,and forced her to smoke marijuana.

“I will categorically deny that I ever kidnapped anyone or forced anybody to use drugs,” Paul said.

But when it came to the “prank” of forcing the woman to worship the Aqua Buddha –a self-defined deity — Paul’s memory seems to get a bit fuzzy.

When Paul attended Baylor University, he belonged to a secret society that the GQ article describes as “Sort of a cross between Yale’s Skull & Bones and Harvard’s Lampoon, the NoZe existed to torment the Baylor administration, which it accomplished through pranks and its satirical newspaper The Rope.”

During the incident, Paul and a friend tell the female ‘victim’ that they worship the god ‘Aqua Buddha,’ and as the GQ article explains, “I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’

“Apparently she said, they blindfolded me and made me bow down to Aqua Buddha. That might have been just a college prank, explains Fox host Neil Cavuto, but you don’t even remember that, right?”

“Well, I’m not really going to try to go back 27 years and remember everything that happened in college,” said Paul.

The woman at the center of the controversy clarified her story to The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent Wednesday.

“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she told me. “They didn’t force me, they didn’t make me. They were creating this drama: `We’re messing with you.’”

The woman said that much of the subsequent coverage of her allegations missed a key nuance: As a participant in a college ritual, where lines between acquiescence and victimization are often blurry, she was largely playing along with the notion that she was being forced to follow Paul’s orders.

“I went along because they were my friends,” she said. “There was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing. I felt like I was being hazed.”

But she maintained that they “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.” Soon after, the woman severed her relationship with Paul and his friends because of the incident.

This video is from Fox News’ Your World, broadcast Aug. 10, 2010.

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