More support yanked over rape remark; reporter defends lawmaker - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

More support yanked over rape remark; reporter defends lawmaker

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Two more influential supporters Friday withdrew their endorsements of Republican lawmaker Roger Rivard over his controversial rape remark, but the reporter who quoted Rivard tells 27 News she regrets the fallout Rivard faces.

"I'm sorry to hear Rep. Rivard's endorsements are being revoked because of his father's home-grown advice," reporter Anita Zimmerman tells 27 News.

In a December 2011 report in the Chetek Alert, Zimmerman quoted Rivard stating, "some girls rape easy," as Rivard recalled his father's counsel years ago on one of the alleged perils of teen sex.

Rivard was quoted as explaining his father claimed a consenting teenager could change her view to having been raped, if the sexual encounter culminated in pregnancy.

Zimmerman says she interviewed Rivard as a controversy swirled over the prosecution of an area seventeen year old boy, over the teen's sexual contact with a fourteen year old girlfriend.

Zimmerman tells 27 News Rivard was "refreshingly frank," and the recent unearthing of his quote and the story in the midst of Rivard's campaign for reelection is misguided.

"Sadly, this is exactly the type of controversy that impairs honest discussion and blocks amendment of our flawed statutory rape laws" Zimmerman says.

Madison area Rape Crisis Center executive director Kelley Anderson tells 27 News the state's statutory rape laws can be confusing, with the potential at times to label a teen lover a life-long sex offender. But Anderson says prosecutors tend to exercise appropriate discretion when evaluating liaisons involving someone under eighteen.

Anderson also says Rivard's quote about his father's counsel reinforces a false stereotype. "It just goes back on this idea, that is so prevalent in our culture, that women lie about being raped."

Almost immediately after Rivard's 2011 quote began circulating anew in the context of his reelection campaign, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, congressman Sean Duffy and other top republican leaders withdrew their endorsements.

The Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Grocers Association also withdrew their endorsements of Rivard Friday, although their endorsements remain listed on Rivard's campaign web site. A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association says the association's board will review their endorsement Tuesday.

In a statement, Rivard expressed regret for his remark, and condemned rape.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported a planned, Saturday rally in Spooner for Republican candidates continued to bill its effort as supporting Rivard, even though a spokesperson for Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told the newspaper funds from the Republican Assembly campaign committee would no longer be spent to support Rivard.

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