Due Process, Adult Sexual Morality and the Case of Rep. Matt Gaetz


12-04-21 12:43:00, : Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) speaks during the “Save America Summit” at the Trump National Doral golf resort on April 09, 2021 in Doral, Florida (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

That Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is a pedophile, a sex trafficker, and an abuser of women who forces them to prostitute themselves and use drugs with him is a widespread assumption in many media and political circles. That is true despite the rather significant fact that not only has he never been charged with (let alone convicted of) such crimes, but also no evidence has been publicly presented that any of it is true. He has also vehemently denied all of it. All or some of these accusations very well may be true and, one day — perhaps imminently — there will be ample publicly available evidence demonstrating this.

But that day has not yet arrived. As of now, we know very little beyond what The New York Times initially reported about all of this on March 30: that “people close to the investigation” told the paper that “a Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.” The article also said the DOJ “inquiry is also examining whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of material value.” Both the NYT and, later, The Daily Beast, indicated the existence of financial transactions involving payments by Gaetz to his associate Joel Greenberg, currently charged with multiple felonies. The New York Times article made clear: “No charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz, and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear.” That is still true.

But no matter. One is hard-pressed to find people willing to urge that his guilt not be assumed before evidence of it is presented (amazingly, just six months ago, many of the same people now treating these accusations as proven fact had no trouble casually asserting or strongly implying that Gaetz was having sex with a 19-year-old male whom he said he had been parentally raising for years,

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