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When a predator is also a pal

Get ready for President Trump to launch a campaign to ridicule the #MeToo movement, writes S.E. Cupp. | Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The predators closest to us are the ones who elude us.

President Donald J. Trump once bragged about assaulting women. On videotape.

“Donald Trump is objectively a villain,” Andrea Pino told me Thursday. “He’s a person who has gone against pretty much every minority community in this country. The idea of him being a perpetrator is not exactly shocking.”

OPINION

Allies and friends are another story. “There’s something very different about going against someone who is not considered objectively a villain, who is not visibly nefarious.”

Pino, 26, is co-founder of the national advocacy organization End Rape on Campus. She participated in a panel I moderated at “The Working Lunch,” a fundraiser for Women Employed, a Chicago non-profit that advocates for workplace equity. The panel addressed the theme, “Speaking Up, Speaking Out.”

Pino, 26, spoke up. The Cuban American from Miami was a first-generation college student attending her “dream school,” the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Then came the nightmare, when Pino was raped at a campus party. She sought help from university authorities but says she got nowhere in that liberal ivory tower.

In 2013, she and four other students filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal gender equity laws guarantee equal access to educational programs, they argued, but if young women live in fear of campus assaults, they are deprived of that protection.

As we talked in the green room, Pino acknowledged the nation’s new, welcome attention to and advocacy for women who are assaulted and harassed.

Yet women must fight friendly fire. “We don’t see people that are part of our communities as perpetrators,” Pino said.

People like U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who resigned his seat in January in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

“It’s a lot harder,” she said, “to go against someone like Al Franken, who has a history of working for women’s rights. Who has a history of working for reproduction rights. LGBT rights, amplifying people of color. A person who in many ways is a champion for those who are least listened to.”

Other “allies” and “progressives” also have been caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct. PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley. Bill Cosby, the iconic entertainer. Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

“To imagine a trusted person as a perpetrator means that you have to question your community,” Pino said. “You have to question your identity. You have to question what role you played as a bystander in any of this abuse.”

Women must fill all the rooms, and “prioritize” inclusivity and diversity, especially in progressive organizations, she advised.

Places where diversity is always celebrated, but often lacking.

The four women on the panel spoke to an audience of nearly 1,000. All were women of color. I have attended hundreds similar events over the years, and it’s a rare sight.

When a top job or board opportunity comes along, white men — and women — should decline and instead, recommend a woman of color, panelists agreed.

Women in the shadows must be highlighted and supported. We need more women telling their stories.

“You have working women who are being targeted every day, undocumented women who are being abused and their stories aren’t even making the news,” Pino said. “Of course, they’re not. Because they are not even at the table that is making that news.”

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