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Sexual assault, harassment must not be swept under rug and forgotten

It has been just two years since the #MeToo movement came on the national stage. Its founder and others concerned about sexual assault and harassment worry that the issue has been sidetracked by candidates for president next year.

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke is doing something about that. She has come up with a new hashtag campaign — #MeTooVoter. “You can’t have 12 million people respond to a hashtag in this country and they not be constituents, taxpayers and voters,” Burke told The Associated Press in reference to her original initiative.

Not a single one of the dozen or more Democratic candidates for president had spoken to her by this week, Burke said. “We need these candidates to see us as a power base,” she added.

Indeed, it is puzzling that Democratic candidates have not turned to #MeToo in an attempt to garner votes. Some of them and many others in their party were eager to portray themselves as champions of the movement last year, during confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh, who now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court, was accused of sexual assault while he was a teenager.

Not a shred of proof of the allegations was brought forward, however. To the contrary, the credibility of his accuser was questioned.

That does not negate the need for more attention to sexual harassment and assault. Millions of women — and some men — have been victimized by sexual predators, in one way or another.

It may be that the candidates worry bringing that unpleasant topic up will focus attention on as aspect of it some people would prefer to ignore — the protection the elite grant to those in its ranks who are accused of sexual assault.

Need we bring up the late Jeffrey Epstein, with whom some entertainers and politicians continued to rub elbows after he had been convicted of sexually assaulting juveniles in Florida?

Or how about movie producer Harvey Weinstein, whose many chums ignored multiple allegations against him for many years?

And yes, there is film director and producer Roman Polanski, who in 1977 pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in California, then fled the country to escape punishment. Many in Hollywood continue to defend him.

Using unproven allegations of sexual misbehavior for political reasons is wrong — period.

But Burke and others working with her are right that the issue of sexual assault and harassment must not be swept under the rug and forgotten. There are too many very real victims. In all likelihood, you know some of them.

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