A Nebraska lawmaker is facing calls to resign after mentioning his colleague’s name in the book’s rape scene passage

By | March 20, 2024

Republican Secretary of State of Nebraska, Senator Steve Halloran is called upon to resign after him inserted the name of a colleague in a passage he read during a floor debate about the rape scene from a book, including graphic details.

Halloran apologized in the Senate on Tuesday morning and defended his decision to read the passage, but said it was a “mistake” to refer to his colleagues.

“I apologize for interjecting the senators’ names during the reading of a transcript, a transcribed testimony at a public hearing, referring to a book that is present in some schools and is required reading in some schools,” he said. ‘It was difficult to read. And no, I wasn’t trivializing the rape. I was reading from a book that is required reading for some students. Should I have included the senators’ names? No. Sometimes we do things on the floor while making a statement that we shouldn’t have made.”

Halloran made the comments during a debate Monday on Bill 441, which targets obscenity and pornography in elementary schools.

Halloran read from Alice Sebold’s memoir, “Lucky,” in which she described being raped in college, and he repeatedly invoked “Senator Cavanaugh” as he read directly from the passage describing the incident of sexual assault. He did not specify whether he was referring to state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh or her brother, state Sen. John Cavanaugh, both Democrats. In his apology Tuesday, Halloran said his comments were initially directed at John Cavanaugh, who had spoken before him.

Machaela Cavanaugh later Monday lashed out at Halloran in emotional comments on the floor. “You don’t know anything about anyone else’s life. And I can tell you that women in this body have been victims of sexual violence,” she said. She said Tuesday she didn’t believe he was talking about her brother.

Reached for comment on Tuesday, Machaela Cavanaugh’s office responded with a statement from the senator saying Halloran “violated the integrity of our nonpartisan legislative body by reading excerpts from a book written about a sexual assault victim. ”

“But it didn’t stop there,” she said. “He verbally spat in the faces of sexual assault victims across the state and country by inserting my name between obscenity phrases. It’s beneath him. It’s beneath its title. So let me say this: Senator Steve Halloran must be held accountable. ”

Halloran did not respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Megan Hunt, an independent, adjourned Monday because of Halloran’s comments.

“Frankly, I think Halloran should resign. How dare he even form his mouth to say the words ‘Give me a b— y– Senator Cavanaugh,’” she wrote on X. “He said that because he wanted to say it. It was over it turned out. Pure aggression to read a rape scene out loud and so to speak. Broken brain.”

“The problem is not that graphic language appears in books,” she added in another post. “The problem isn’t that rape survivors have written about their experiences. The problem is, as a senator, you stand at a podium and run your mouth to tell one of your colleagues to give you a b— y–.

Republican Sen. Julie Slama, the chamber’s youngest member, spoke on the floor after Halloran apologized. She said Halloran’s comments on Monday were “completely inappropriate”. called on him to resign. She also called on the House to provide lawmakers with stronger protections against misconduct.

“I don’t care if it was John Cavanaugh; I don’t care if it was Machaela Cavanaugh,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the gender of the person you’re trying to sexually harass.”

Sen. Brad von Gillern, a Republican, denounced Halloran’s comments and his “conditional apology” in an emotional speech Tuesday. Through tears, he said that, as a man and as the father of a rape victim, he felt it was important to speak out. “I couldn’t help but take it personally,” he said.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Joni Albrecht, apologized to her colleagues on Monday.

“I’m so sorry your name got injected into it,” she said. “That’s absolutely — I’ll be the first to stand up and say I’m sorry. This is happening in our schools. This is what’s going on. And I don’t want this to be elevated to any level.”

In his 1999 memoir, Sebold said he survived being raped in college. The man she accused, Anthony J. Broadwater, was wrongfully convicted and served sixteen years in prison. He was acquitted in 2021 and Sebold said she was “truly sorry” for playing a role in his conviction.

John Cavanaugh said in a statement Tuesday that Halloran is “missing the point” and that book ban advocates “would benefit from reading the books they are trying to ban.”

“Books that tell stories different from our own experiences teach us empathy and help us understand other people’s experiences,” he said. “Maybe if he actually read this book, he would understand the impact his behavior has had on his universities and fellow Nebraskans.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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