Neomi Rao, the White House regulatory czar nominated to fill a federal appeals court seat left vacant by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, apologized in a letter to senators Monday for a controversial column she wrote as a college student on campus sexual assault and date rape.
In a letter addressed to the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rao—nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—expressed regret over the “insensitivity demonstrated” in that column. In a 1994 article titled “Shades of Gray,” Rao, then a Yale undergraduate, wrote: “A man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”
Rao, writing to Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said Monday: “Sexual assault in all forms, including date rape, is abhorrent. Responsibility for the rape is with the rapist. I believed that as a college student and continue to believe that today.”
“As a society we should create an environment where survivors feel empowered and comfortable coming forward. I am sorry for anything in my college writings to the contrary,” she wrote, later acknowledging that she failed to recognize “the hurt” that her words could cause survivors of sexual assault crimes.
Rao addressed the column—along with other columns she wrote in the 1990s—at her confirmation hearing last week. She said she wrote Monday’s letter after reviewing the hearing and “after conversations” with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I concluded my testimony may not have adequately conveyed my views on the subject,” Rao wrote. “I am submitting this letter to further elaborate my views.”
Read Rao’s Letter: