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Undeterred by rape allegation, Sen. Joe Fain supporters give him ovation

caption: State Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), center, greets supporters at a breakfast campaign event with state Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), left, on Oct. 14, 2018.
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State Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), center, greets supporters at a breakfast campaign event with state Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), left, on Oct. 14, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Sydney Brownstone

Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) made a campaign appearance in Federal Way on Sunday, two weeks after a woman said that in 2007, he got drunk and asked her to help him to her hotel room, where she said he then raped her.

Cornered by a reporter, he repeated that he denies the allegation.

Holding Waffles, his tiny miniature schnauzer-Yorkie mix, Fain took the stage to thank his supporters for sticking with his campaign.

"When you face tough times, you look around and you see who is willing to face them with you," said Fain, a moderate Republican from south King County.

"The fact that we've got 200 people RSVP'd for this event, the fact that my phone has been blowing off the hook over the last two weeks, the fact that there has been so much support and love that has come forward to help me and help Steffanie and to help the family and help this campaign, I'm incredibly humbled and grateful for everything that you have done to support me."

As Fain stepped off the stage, his supporters — several of them fellow elected officials — gave him a standing ovation. His wife Steffanie Moxon Fain, an attorney, stood nearby, holding their baby.

Fain was referring to rape accusations made about him two weeks earlier. That’s when Candace Faber, a former City of Seattle official, took to Twitter: Candace Faber said that Fain raped her in 2007, the night of her graduation from Georgetown University. Faber's mother, Laura Lee Faber, told KUOW that her daughter was distraught the next day but wouldn't say why. Faber's mother also told KUOW that her daughter gave her the dress she was wearing that night—a dress Faber said Fain tore during her assault—to mend the following day.

Two years later, Faber told her mother that a man had raped her on the night of graduation, but she didn’t say who. After President Trump was elected, she disclosed to her that it was Sen. Joe Fain, her mother told KUOW.

Fain has said little about Faber's allegations over the last month, other than brief statements denying the allegations to the AP, Seattle Times and KING 5. Fain did not respond to questions from KUOW two weeks ago; on Sunday, Fain again avoided specific questions from KUOW directly.

In a statement to sent to KUOW from Fain’s spokesperson later Sunday night, Fain denied raping Faber.

"I was shocked to learn that I was being accused of the conduct she has described as my memory of the events do not coincide with her allegations," Fain's statement said. "I am again asking that she be afforded the utmost respect during what I believe must be a difficult time for her as well."

Fain reiterated his call for an investigation into Faber's claims, though no one in local government has taken responsibility for launching one.

"I am renewing my call for a swift, complete and fair process related to her allegations," Fain's statement continued. "I have said before, I am not discussing the specific facts in order to protect the integrity of whatever investigation or process may follow."

"I tell my daughters you don't go to a hotel room with a man who is drinking. You just don't do that." Kathy Lambert, King County Council Member

Earlier at the event, state Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) said that state senators are discussing how to proceed, but said the "optimal" option would be for Faber to file a criminal report for authorities to investigate.

In response to Sen. Rivers' comment about filing a criminal report, Faber wrote to KUOW that she would be happy to answer questions if the senator needed more information. She added that Sen. Rivers could also ask Sen. Fain specific questions about what he believed happened that night, but that she did not want to see Sen. Fain "incarcerated or fined by the District of Columbia."

"That does nothing for me or the community," Faber wrote. "My aim is to move forward in life without continuing to bear the additional burden of silence."

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, another Fain supporter at the campaign event, questioned Faber's behavior.

Interview with Kathy Lambert

"I think it's a two-way street," said Lambert. "I tell my daughters you don't go to a hotel room with a man who is drinking. You just don't do that."

Lambert added: “When I was younger, slapping a woman on the butt was a compliment.”

Councilmember Lambert also suggested a public healing ritual that would reestablish rules of conduct. Lambert has spoken of her own experiences with domestic abuse in the past.

"We need to do something where we stop, and say, ‘Okay, that's the past,’" Lambert said. "If you're hurt, then you need to get counseling, because carrying this hurt and throwing it out to everybody is not good for our society."

Lambert said she looked into a public ceremony. 

"I even talked to the director of public health the other day about seeing if there's some kind of ceremony we could do where people could write down their hurts and their pains and be able to have some ceremony over it, whether it's a religious one or a societal one, and let all those hurts go," Lambert said. "Because you can't carry your hurts forever and have a healthy life."

When asked whether it would be relevant if what Faber was saying was true, Lambert said: "You know, I think what people did 10 years ago is 10 years ago. I wasn't there and I can't judge."

Both Sen. Rivers and Councilwoman Lambert repeated their support for Fain and praised his character.

caption: Candace Faber speaking at a technology event at the University of Washington in 2017.
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Candace Faber speaking at a technology event at the University of Washington in 2017.

In the state legislature, Fain has cooperated with Democrats and sponsored legislation aiming to protect victims of sexual violence.

One of his supporters described Fain’s base as “NPR Republicans.”

In the primary, Fain won roughly 54 percent of the vote, to Democrat Mona Das’s 46 percent. 

Correction, 8:25 a.m., 10/16/18: The original version of this story did not include a statement Fain made to the AP.

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