Massachusetts officials apologize for sexual assault tweet

The controversial tweet sparked angry feedback from the state website's roughly 36,100 followers. Photo: Twitter/screenshot
The controversial tweet sparked angry feedback from the state website’s roughly 36,100 followers. Photo: Twitter/screenshot

The director of the state website that on Wednesday tweeted that “sexual assault is always avoidable” apologized Thursday in a four-part tweet sent by the @massgov handle.

Geoff Kula, director of mass.gov, said about 10 a.m. that a tweet sent out at 10:17 p.m. the night before “in no way meant to suggest that victims of sexual assault are to blame for the crimes committed against them.”

“I deeply regret the message sent last night regarding sexual assault and apologize to all sexual assault victims,” Kula tweeted.

The controversial tweet in question, which remained on the state’s Twitter timeline for 11 hours before being deleted, said, “Sexual assault is always avoidable. Learn more from @Mass_HHS: [ ow.ly/vHl2S]#SAAMhttp://t.co/jpECjaqigB — Mass.gov (@MassGov) May 01, 2014

It was meant to promote Sexual Assault Awareness month, which begins today.

An explanation of how the questionable tweet came to be was later given on Mass.gov’s blog Thursday. It read:

In this instance, the author of the sexual assault awareness tweet did not send this tweet to the editorial gatekeeper for review, and instead scheduled the tweet independently. Having spoken with the author this morning, it is clear there was no malicious intent behind the tweet; the tweet inaccurately summarized the content in the linked-to blog post, which discussed services available for victims of sexual assault.

The author, who was not named, also agreed to participate in sexual assault awareness training, Kula said.

The comment sparked angry feedback from the state website’s roughly 36,100 followers, with many voicing outrage that the comment seemed to put the responsibility of avoiding rape and assault on would-be victims rather than the offenders.

Twitter user Amy Deveau tweeted she was “disgusted with @MassGov‘s tweet. I bet you think survivors were asking for it & didn’t try hard enough to get away…”

User @Patoo2 said, “@MassGov @Mass_HHS this has to be one of the stupidest statements I have EVER read – you should be ashamed this came from your govt office!”

Gov. Deval Patrick also condemned the message, telling Fox 25, “It was stupid.”

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Gina Scaramella said it was “really unfortunate [the tweet] was put out there, but we don’t believe it’s a symptom of the administration’s beliefs.”

“I do think we have bigger fish to fry than this, but I’m glad that people spoke up and they’re holding this person accountable,” said Scaramella.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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