By most accounts, Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris emerged victorious from Thursday’s debate stage after giving passionate responses on race relations, health care, and income inequality, and showing her skills as a former prosecutor, per The Inquisitr. She also made waves for calling out former Vice President Joe Biden for his track record on busing and segregation.
But Harris’s past as a prosecutor has caused some to question how progressive she really is, and The Associated Press recently revealed her past approach to clergy abuse as an example.
Joey Piscitelli, who became a spokesman for clergy sex abuse victims in the 2000s, claims that Harris was San Francisco’s district attorney at the time and never responded to his claims that a priest molested him at a local Catholic cathedral ministry. Five years later, he again reached out to urge her to release records on accused clergy to help other alleged victims in their cases.
“She did nothing,” Piscitelli said.
According to clergy abuse survivors and their attorneys, Harris was consistently silent on the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal, both when she was district attorney in San Francisco and later as California’s attorney general.
Michael Meadows, a Bay Area attorney who has represented clergy abuse victim, suggests that the reason was that Catholics make up large voting blocs in the city and the state. These numbers mean they make up approximately a quarter of the population in both San Francisco’s metro area and across California, and Meadows suggested attacking them could harm her career.
“There’s a potential political risk if you move aggressively against the church. I just don’t think she was willing to take it.”
Survivors of clergy abuse say Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris was silent on the scandal when she was a prosecutor in California. Her campaign says Harris has a strong record of supporting sex abuse victims. https://t.co/NR8OYbwBs0
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) June 26, 2019
“Of all the DAs in the Bay Area, she’s the only one who wouldn’t cooperate with us,” said Rick Simons, an attorney who coordinated clergy abuse cases filed in Northern California and was also Piscitelli’s personal lawyer.
In response to the accusations, Harris’s office released a statement that said she “has been a staunch advocate on behalf of sexual assault victims, especially child sexual assault victims.” It also claims that Harris used her district attorney position to “create the first unit focused on child sexual assault cases in the office’s history.”
Harris has also received criticism for her actions as California attorney general for challenging the release of Daniel Larsen, who served 13 years of a 27-years-to-life prison sentence after being wrongfully convicted. NBC News reports that Harris argued that Larsen didn’t provide proof of his innocence quickly enough.