When asked recently about an allegation made by a Seattle woman that state Sen. Joe Fain raped her, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert said that the accuser may have been to blame for the incident.
In late September, Candace Faber, a former foreign service officer and employee in Seattle’s Information Technology Department, accused the Sen. Fain, 37, of raping her in a Washington, D.C., hotel room after a night of drinking back in 2007 — the night she graduated from Georgetown University.
Fain, a prominent state Republican who represents the 47th Legislative District covering Auburn, Kent, and Renton, has denied the allegation and has called for an investigation into the accusation.
“I think it’s a two-way street,” Lambert, who is supporting Fain in his 2018 re-election bid, told KUOW in an Oct. 14 interview. “I tell my daughters you don’t go to a hotel room with a man who is drinking. You just don’t do that.”
During the interview, Lambert also said that when she was younger, “slapping a woman on the butt was a compliment.” She also implied that the alleged rape’s occurrence roughly a decade ago undermines the seriousness of the allegation. “You know, I think what people did 10 years ago is 10 years ago. I wasn’t there and I can’t judge,” she said.
Several of Lambert’s colleagues on the council are distancing themselves from her comments. In a media release Oct. 16, Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Rod Dembowski, and Joe McDermott said that Lambert’s comments “do not represent the King County Council.”
“We believe victims. We stand with survivors. We believe the past matters,” they wrote. “We call on fellow elected officials to work together to end gender-based violence in all forms. While the #MeToo movement has spurred what are certainly difficult and nuanced conversations, there is absolutely no room for justification, invalidation, and victim blaming.”
Councilmember Dave Upthegrove slammed Lambert’s comments as “offensive” in a Facebook post published Oct. 16.
“I want my staff and all King County employees to know that it is not a ‘compliment’ to physically grope a female without her consent. Recent comments made in the press by a council colleague to this effect do not represent the values or the policies of King County government,” he wrote. “I found the comments offensive.”
Lambert also sent her own press release “clarifying” her comments to KUOW. In the release, Lambert said she did not “attack Ms. Faber or question the sincerity of her allegations” during the interview. “As a survivor of domestic abuse, I would never do that,” she said. “Every accusation of sexual assault, harassment, or domestic violence deserves to be heard, taken seriously, and investigated thoroughly.”
“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,” Lambert added. “That conversation is long overdue. I hope this conversation will lead to a society where nobody will have to live through these difficult and painful experiences.”
Councilmembers Reagan Dunn, Larry Gossett, Claudia Balducci, and Pete von Reichbauer, all of whom have yet to weigh in on the matter, did not respond to Seattle Weekly’s requests for comment.
In an online essay posted in June, Faber described meeting an unnamed Washington state lawmaker in D.C. after she graduated from Georgetown in 2007. Faber wrote that they spent the night dancing and kissing, and that they “drank way too much.” Eventually, she walked the man back to his hotel and went to his room, where he pinned her to a bed and raped her, she wrote. Faber later told the Seattle Times that she repeatedly told him to stop and tried to kick him away during the alleged incident. After taking inspiration from the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, she eventually named Sen. Fain as her assailant Sept. 27 via Twitter.
In a Oct. 15 tweet directed toward Councilmember Lambert regarding her recent comments, Faber wrote: “@KathyLambert It really doesn’t matter to you?”