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President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed concern over what he called "a very scary time for young men in America" who can be accused of sexual misconduct.
Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is facing allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, which date back to his high school and college years. Kavanaugh, 53, has denied the allegations, but his confirmation vote in the Senate is on hold while the FBI conducts a supplementary background investigation.
"It's a tough thing going on," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.
"If you can be an exemplary person for 35 years and then somebody comes and say you did this or that, and they give three witnesses and the three witnesses at this point do not corroborate what she was saying," Trump said. "It's a very scary situation where you're guilty until proven innocent."
Trump appeared to be referring to Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her at a house party in 1982 when she was 15 and he was 17. Several of the people who Ford identified as having been at the party have said they do not recall a party like the one Ford described.
Ford has also said that a friend of Kavanaugh's, Mark Judge, was in the room when the alleged assault took place. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Judge said he does "not recall the events described by Dr. Ford in her testimony before the US Senate Judiciary Committee today. I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes."
Kavanaugh's case notwithstanding, Trump's argument that a generation of young men is in danger of being falsely accused of sexual assault does not comport with law enforcement data on the reporting rate for sexual assaults.
According to Department of Justice data from 2015, rape and sexual assault were the least likely violent crime to be reported to police, with a rate of 32 percent of the total number of assaults.
Trump's apparent concern Tuesday for innocent young men was further complicated by his own record of having falsely accused five young men in the now infamous Central Park jogger case in New York City in 1989.
In one of his earliest forays into the political arena, Trump took out a full-page ad in several newspapers about the case, and demanded that lawmakers "Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!"
"I want to hate these muggers and murderers," Trump wrote in the text of the ad. "They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes."
The five young men who were convicted of the crime, and who Trump had called on the state to execute, were later exonerated using DNA evidence.