Madison Cawthorn Classmates Allege Sexual Misconduct - 2021-02-26
Madison Cawthorn arrived at Patrick Henry College's small Christian campus in northern Virginia in fall 2016 blazing with charm, bravado, and a flashing white smile. His former classmates said the future member of Congress would whip his white Dodge Challenger into the parking lot and regale his classmates with the story of how he survived a harrowing car crash as a teen, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair for life. After his intensive recovery, he was older than most students — 21 — and didn't fit the mold of the Christian and largely sheltered first-year students who chose the conservative school in Purcellville because of its commitment to God and rigorous academics. And, former Patrick Henry students said, it didn't take long for women on campus to start warning one another: You don't want to be alone with him, especially in his car.
BuzzFeed News spoke with more than three dozen people, including more than two dozen former students, their friends, and their relatives, who described or corroborated instances of sexual harassment and misconduct on campus, in Cawthorn's car, and at his house near campus. Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn, now a rising Republican star, was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory toward them. Their allegations include calling them derogatory names in public in front of their peers, including calling one woman "slutty," asking them inappropriate questions about their sex lives, grabbing their thighs, forcing them to sit in his lap, and kissing and touching them without their consent. One of these women now works as an intern for another Republican member of Congress and passes Cawthorn in the corridors of the Capitol. According to more than a dozen people — including three women who had firsthand experience and seven people who heard about these incidents from them at the time — Cawthorn often used his car as a way to entrap and harass his women classmates, taking them on what he could call "fun drives" off campus. Two said he would drive recklessly and ask them about their virginity and sexual experiences while they were locked in the moving vehicle.