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GOP’s Kavanaugh questioner Rachel Mitchell comes from a troubled office with a terrible record of rape convictions

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Wary of having 11 middle-aged or elderly white men interrogate the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans have instead tapped an Arizona prosecutor to handle the questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Rachel Mitchell works for the Special Victims Division in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona. Mitchell has a lot of experience, having spent 12 years running the sex-crimes bureau in Phoenix. She’s been with the office for 26 years, the last eight under Bill Montgomery.

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Before that, Mitchell worked under ultra-conservative Andy Thomas, who focused heavily on immigration busts and feuded bitterly with the more moderate county officials who fund his office, at one point indicting county officials over their squabbles. Mitchell’s former boss was later disbarred following an abuse of power case.

The agency that Mitchell comes from has come under fierce criticism for its handling of rape cases, and has a poor track record of getting justice for victims in rape, child molestation or domestic violence cases.

Although it’s hard to get county-level statistics, Maricopa County includes Phoenix and it’s sprawling suburbs, and contains most of the state’s population. Maricopa County has more than 4 million residents. The rest of Arizona has less than 3 million residents combined.

In 2016, there were 3,290 rapes reported across Arizona. Police only made 344 arrests as a result.

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That clearance rate of Arizona rape cases stands at approximately 10%, well below the national average of 34.5%.

Maricopa County is notorious for disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of federal crimes and pardoned by Donald Trump. But the prosecutor’s office that Arpaio worked with has also had a number of high-profile fails—especially when it comes to sex crimes. Arpaio has been slammed for ignoring rape and child molestation cases so he could pursue a jihad against Latinos. Maricopa County had to pay out massive settlements as a result of Arpaio’s mishandling of rape cases.

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That includes an alleged 2014 gang rape that prosecutors declined to take before a jury and several high-profile cases at Arizona State University in Tempe in Maricopa County, which the school has responded to by arguing that expulsion is “too severe” a punishment for rapists.

While it’s not uncommon to see a backlog of untested rape kits, Mitchell’s Maricopa County office recently made news by busting a man after 17 years. The rapist had gone unprosecuted in that time, until federal authorities gave a large grant to have the old kits tested. Before the feds stepped in, Maricopa County had a backlog of 4,000 untested rape kits.

Those numbers kept more victims from reporting, advocates in Arizona have said, as they feared retribution from their attackers and had no faith that law enforcement or prosecutors would pursue their attackers.

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“I think that comes from a history of the criminal justice process placing the character of the victim in question,” advocate Jessye Johnson told the Arizona Republic. “We’ve seen some shift in that in terms of rape shield laws.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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