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#NC11: Cawthorn Addresses Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Madison Cawthorne, 11th Congressional District Republican nominee candidate, spoke at the 'Back the Blue' rally in Jackson County on Saturday.
Lilly Knoepp
Blue Ridge Public Radio
Madison Cawthorne, 11th Congressional District Republican nominee candidate, spoke at the 'Back the Blue' rally in Jackson County on Saturday.

Republican nominee candidate for NC Congressional District 11 Madison Cawthorn is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct.  BPR spoke with Cawthorn at a law enforcement rally over the weekend:

Last week, Katrina Krulikas, took to Instagram to share her story about a date she went on with Cawthorn six years ago.  On that date, she said Cawthorn forcibly tried to kiss her. In the post she writes: “ I recall being so startled, that as he tried to grab me and I attempted to pull away, my hair was pulled instead and I got stuck in his chair. I had to yank out some of my hair just to free myself.”

Cawthorn shared his side of the story Saturday after a ‘Back The Blue’ rally in Sylva.

“I did try to kiss her, very normal in a flirtatious way. But then as soon as I realized, that she didn’t want to, I think she pulled back a little – the date was over,” says Cawthorn. “We continued to sit around the fire for quite a while. I took her back to her car. Everything was normal.”

Krulikas seems to disagree with that perception in her post. “I vividly recall the felling I had coming home that night: nothing about the experience sat well with me,” writes Krulikas.

Cawthorn explains he learned about the situation during a text message campaign for undecided voters in the region earlier this year, someone responded they would never vote for him because of how he had treated their friend Katrina feel. That’s when he reached out to Krulikas.

“If I did make her feel unsafe, I feel bad. I’m glad that she stated that she didn’t feel like a victim but I’m not sure what she was trying to insinuate that I was trying to do,” says Cawthorn.  

On Sunday, Krulikas shared more details of the story in “World,” a Christian Asheville-based publication. Two more women – one who spoke anonymously because of her job in the Trump administration – shared similar stories about times when Cawthorn made unwanted advances including sliding his hand under a woman’s skirt during a conversation.

Cawthorn says explicit consent is important.

“I think that is something that has shown itself more in the last half decade. I think that is very positive for our society because I think that there are probably a lot of situations that made girls feel uncomfortable. And I think that was just kind of the culture that existed, so I’m glad that is changing,” says Cawthorn.

The ‘consent’ has long had a legal definition and the movement for explicit “yes means yes” consent began in the 1990s, according to an article in the Washington Post, but wasn’t popularized in 2008. The #MeToo spread in 2017 but was first used in 2006.

He encourages anyone who has been made uncomfortable to reach out for a conversation with the other individual:

“That person may not realize that even happened or that they made you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t know that you made someone feel uncomfortable then there is no way for you to remedy that or for you to try to change your behavior,” says Cawthorn.   

Cawthorn says that he thinks these stories are part of a political tactic by Democrats and questions why these allegations are being brought up now. In her Instagram post, Krulikas says that she is speaking out because in her experience Cawthorn does not live by the Christian family values of his campaign stating: “I believe it should be made public knowledge so that come election time voters know who they are choosing to represent.”

The allegations are the bookend of a controversial week for Cawthorn in which he also was questioned about his college record, ties to white supremacy and removed pictures from his Instagram of a trip to Adolf Hitler’s vacation home in Germany.

Copyright 2021 BPR News. To see more, visit BPR News.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first full-time reporter covering Western North Carolina.
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