Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pardoned a slew of criminals before leaving office this year, but the Republican’s defense of pardoning one offender in particular brought significant — and well-deserved — backlash.
According to The Washington Post, Bevin decided to pardon a man convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl because he did not believe the child was actually a victim.
“There was zero evidence,” Bevin told talk-radio host Terry Meiners of WHAS, insisting that because the girl’s hymen was intact, she could not have been raped.
Medical and forensics experts were quick to admonish the former governor, explaining that sexual abuse often does not result in physical damage to the child — least of all a broken hymen.
“Scientists have debunked the notion that inspecting an alleged victim’s hymen can prove whether they were sexually assaulted, and found that most survivors of child sexual abuse do not have any physical damage,” The Post reported.
George Nichols, a former Kentucky medical examiner who is an expert in evaluating child abuse, said Bevin “clearly doesn’t know medicine and anatomy.”
When Meiners asked Bevin how he could stomach pardoning a child rapist, The Post reported, the former governor responded: “Which one?”
The rapist in question is 41-year-old Micah Schoettle, sentenced to 23 years in prison last year after his conviction on rape, incest, sodomy and other sexual offenses.
Bevin issued Schoettle’s pardon just one day before he left office, setting the rapist free after serving just 19 months of his sentence. And thanks to the pardon, Schoettle will not have to register as a sex offender, The Post noted.
In defense of his decision, Bevin told Meiners: “Both their hymens were intact. This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically.”
Bevin said Schoettle had been accused of abusing two sisters, but one denied he had harmed her.
Nichols, the medical examiner, said Bevin’s statements were false: “Rape is not proved by hymen penetration. Rape is proved by phallic penetration … where the vaginal lips meet the outer surface of the vagina."
Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders, who prosecuted the case and was a former supporter of the governor, blasted Bevin as being “ignorant” of science.