'Done Being Silent': Woman Accuses Washington State Legislative Leader of Rape

by | October 1, 2018

By Joseph O'Sullivan , Heidi Groover and Jim Brunner

A Seattle woman says state Sen. Joe Fain raped her in 2007 after a party in Washington, D.C., spurring bipartisan calls Friday for an investigation into one of the state Capitol's most prominent Republican legislators.

The woman, Candace Faber, tweeted her explosive allegations Thursday afternoon, following hours of divisive, nationally televised testimony regarding sexual-assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In a statement, Faber said she was inspired by the courage of Kavanaugh's accuser, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings wrapped up, Faber tweeted that she was "fed up" and "ready to name names" before publicly identifying Fain as her rapist -- an accusation he denied in a text message to The Seattle Times.

In that earlier account, Faber described how she and the man met "at the Capitol" and spent a night out drinking and kissing. She wrote that she helped the drunken man return to his hotel room. In the room, she wrote, he pulled down her dress "so hard the straps tore."

She pushed him away and said "stop, stop, stop" before eventually relenting, when he raped her, she wrote. She later asked him for a kiss goodbye, she wrote, and wondered whether she should go to the hospital.

Fain, a politically moderate Republican from Auburn who serves as the Senate's minority floor leader, denied Faber's account in a text message Thursday night.

"I absolutely deny what Ms. Faber is accusing me of," Fain said. "Any allegation of this serious nature deserves to be heard and investigated for all parties involved. I invite and will cooperate with any inquiry. I ask everyone to show respect to Ms. Faber and to the process."

He did not comment further.

Fain, elected to the Legislature in 2010, was one of four Republican senators who voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2012 and helped negotiate a bipartisan deal for the 2017 paid family-leave law.

Lawmakers of both parties as well as Gov. Jay Inslee agreed Faber's allegations should be investigated, though details of how an investigation might proceed were not clear Friday.

"The governor believes this is a very serious allegation that unquestionably deserves a full investigation by law enforcement officials," said Tara Lee, an Inslee spokeswoman, in an email.

In a statement, state Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said the allegations "deserve serious consideration in a manner that respects the dignity of all involved ..."

State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who has acted as a leader for Senate Republicans on sexual harassment and assault, called Fain "a man of principle" and praised his willingness to cooperate in an investigation.

"How any investigation occurs, obviously, is up to the authorities in the relevant jurisdiction, but my fellow Republican senators and I agree that any allegation of this nature must be looked into as thoroughly as possible ..." Rivers said. "We would hope people will allow any investigative process to be completed before drawing conclusions."

It is possible that the alleged assault could be criminally prosecuted. The statute of limitations is 15 years for first-degree and second-degree sexual assault in the District of Columbia, where Georgetown University is located.

Because D.C. is not a state, prosecutions for crimes committed there are handled by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. Representatives of that office did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday. Faber has not said whether she intends to seek charges.

While corroborating long-ago allegations of sexual assault can be difficult, Faber over the years has told friends and family that she was raped, and identified Fain as her assailant.

Two friends of Faber's said in interviews Friday that she had disclosed her account of what happened in recent years, and disclosed Fain's name to one of them. Catherine Hinrichsen, who co-hosted an end homelessness event with Faber in 2014, recalled Faber telling her over lunch in May 2016 she was raped by a "state legislator." Sol Villarreal, another friend, said Faber recounted the assault and named Fain as her assailant in March 2015.

"We've talked about this specifically and him specifically many times since," Villarreal said. In discussing Faber's written accounts of the rape, he added: "It is not something she'd have any confusion or doubt about and not something she would make up."

On Friday, KUOW reported additional details of Faber's allegations, including an interview with Faber and her mother, Laura Lee Faber, who said she'd noticed immediately that something was wrong with her daughter the day after the alleged rape in 2007. She said her daughter broke down sobbing, but wouldn't explain why.

Laura Lee Faber told KUOW her daughter told her in 2009 she had been raped the night of her graduation, without naming the alleged rapist. She said she revealed Fain's name after President Donald Trump's election in 2016.

"When Trump got elected, she broke," Laura Lee Faber told KUOW. "The emotions just ... so that's when she told us his name."

KUOW also reported that in April or May, Faber's mother and a friend who is an attorney wrote to Fain to request a meeting, but received no response.

Faber did not comment to The Seattle Times Thursday or Friday.

Faber, 35, graduated from Georgetown University in May 2007 with a master's degree in foreign service, a program whose alumni include former President Bill Clinton, four current U.S. senators and decades of diplomats. She spent nearly six years as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She recently worked in the city of Seattle's Information Technology Department. She has been a guest faculty member in the University of Washington Information School for the past two years.

Faber told KUOW she left her city government job after a mental health breakdown in 2017, saying she was diagnosed with a psychosis triggered by a buildup of traumas, including the rape.

On Thursday, Faber tweeted about the U.S. Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh, where psychology professor Ford discussed her allegation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Around 4 p.m., Faber asked on Twitter: "Is anyone else just fed up and ready to name names? Because I am!"

Then she followed up. "So okay, let's do it. @senatorfain, you raped me the night I graduated from Georgetown in 2007. Then you had the audacity to ask me to support your campaign. I've been terrified of running into you since moving home and seeing your name everywhere. I'm done being silent."

Even before Thursday's hearings, Faber tweeted about other separate assaults she says she has experienced.

In a series of tweets posted Wednesday, Faber referenced several incidents, including an unspecified assault in high school, an assault she said took place while she was passed out after a wedding in 2004 and the alleged 2007 rape. Faber included the hashtag "#whyididntreport, which Twitter users were including with their accounts of sexual assault after Trump tweeted that if Kavanaugh's alleged attack on Blasey Ford "was as bad as she says," she or her parents would have reported to law enforcement.

Faber didn't report in 2007, she wrote, because she worried about reactions from her parents and from her Catholic hospital. "Plus I didn't think anyone would believe me," Faber wrote on Twitter. "Or that if they did, they wouldn't care."

Fain, 37, was elected to the state Senate in 2010. He rose to serve as majority floor leader from 2013 through 2017, when Republicans controlled the chamber.

He is up for re-election this year, recently besting Democratic challenger Mona Das by about 8 points in the primary. Both will be on the November general-election ballot.

In a statement Friday, Das praised Faber as brave. "As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I know how traumatic it can be, and how difficult and courageous it is for Candace to come forward and talk about it. I want her to know that I support her, as we all should," she said.

Fain graduated from the University of Washington in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in political science. In 2004, he began work on the Metropolitan King County Council, which included time as Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer's chief of staff. While working there, Fain attended classes and earned both law and master's degrees from Seattle University.

Elected to the Senate in 2010, Fain represents the county's 47th legislative district, which includes parts of Auburn, Kent and Covington.

As a lawyer, Fain spent about a year starting in 2013 as a King County deputy prosecuting attorney. He is currently listed as an attorney at Seattle-based Coopersmith Law and Strategy, according to that firm's website. An employee who answered the phone there Friday declined to comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated a conversation between Candace Faber and Catherine Hinrichsen. Hinrichsen said Faber told her she was raped by a "state legislator" but did not give a specific name.

Staff reporters Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb, assistant metro editor Jonathan Martin and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

(c)2018 The Seattle Times