It’s hard to think of a male Florida lawmaker other than House Speaker Richard Corcoran who has been more outspoken about the horrible behavior that has led to the Florida Senate being engulfed in a series of tawdry sex scandals.
Last October, he denounced an extramarital affair between Sen. Jeff Clemens and a lobbyist. Clemens resigned after POLITICO Florida first reported the story. At the time, Corcoran said, he was “greatly disturbed” by Clemens’ behavior and he maintained that because a lobbyist is dependent on legislators, “the facts here raise a very real question of sexual harassment.”
A week after Clemens resigned, Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala, was accused by six women in the Florida Capitol of sexual harassment. Corcoran was the first prominent Republican to call on Latvala to resign.
Yet, some recent comments by Corcoran — which came when he was asked for an opinion about the admission that two state Senators admitted to engaging in an extramarital affair — went too far.
That situation is a “helluva lot different than being a sexual predator … it’s a helluva lot different than raping someone … ” Corcoran said Tuesday.
As is made clear in subsequent comments, Corcoran was referring to his vanquished enemy, Latvala, who quit the Senate last month after an investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct by the Republican.
There is no longer any doubt — except in Latvala’s mind — that the former lawmaker did some truly terrible things. And he will have to wear many scarlet letters for the rest of his life.
But how does Corcoran get to the r-word?
The Rape Crisis Center explains that rape is defined as unwanted penetration, whether that is oral, anal, or vaginal. Sexual assault refers to any unwanted sexual contact, including fondling and molestation.
These are serious times for the Florida Legislature. The Senate has been paralyzed by these scandals. So words matter.
The Speaker, who deserves considerable credit for his fierce criticism of lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct, should have chosen his words more carefully.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.