Every now and then, something comes across my radar that demands a good deal of vetting before I am comfortable running it. At times, even after the vetting, I’m not entirely comfortable, not because I doubt the authenticity or accuracy, but because the subject matter is just bad.
This is one of those times.
Mike Holcomb (R-10) is an incumbent whose district includes parts of Jefferson, Lincoln, Cleveland, Grant, and Drew counties. His profile, and basically anything you can find about him as a legislator, note that he is a “retired educator.” Technically, this is true — Arkansas records show him with an educator’s license from at least 1999 to 2005. Prior to his time as a teacher, however, Mr. Holcomb worked in some non-teaching capacities, including time as a security guard at Watson Chapel High School in 1987.
I’ll let a parent of a Watson Chapel student at the time take it from here.
Some noteworthy passages from that letter, in case you can’t see it on your current device:
It was 1987 and my daughter was a junior. Mike was an avid weight lifter and a big flirt. She enjoyed the attention Mike was giving her but it led to more than a hug here and there. She became a victim. Over several months Mike took advantage of my daughter’s innocents [sic] and sexually abused her. His sexual encounters lasted a couple of months before moving to his next victims.
Mike ran for State Representative and the talk continued to increase about his past at Watson Chapel High School. I was asked a number of times “Are you going to vote for Mike?” Followed by their comment, “I cannot believe anyone would vote for him after what he did to those girls.” All I could think about is “if you only knew that one of those girls was my daughter.” I am so ashamed that I had not reported Mike to the authorities. It may have saved other girls from what happened to my little girl.
If Mike’s activities were to take place today, he would be charged and sent to prison. He should not be allowed to represent the people of Jefferson County any longer.
As someone who has a daughter, my heart goes out to the author of this letter. I cannot imagine what I would do in that situation, and I pray that I never have to find out. I commend the author, however, for having the courage to come forward now.
Assuming this is all true — and I have no reason to doubt it — it presents a pretty terrible backstory for Mike Holcomb. A cynical person might even suggest that this is why Mike Holcomb did not vote for a bill that specifically sought to prevent school children from maltreatment and to hold educators accountable for inappropriate relationships with students. Or why he did not vote for a bill that would have made sex offenders report new addresses to local law enforcement, rather than to the ACIC.
But, ultimately, there is no need to be so cynical regarding his votes; what matters are his actions. An honest man would take one of two approaches at this point: he would either admit his wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness and drop out, OR he would sue the author of this post for libel. A dishonest man would deny, with or without accompanying bluster and outrage, and simply stay in the race and hope no one paid attention to his past.
So, I suppose, the only question now is which category Mr. Holcomb falls into.
UPDATE: Apparently, Drew Petrimoulx followed up on this story and sought comment from Mr. Holcomb. (I also sought comment from Mr. Holcomb, but got no response.) According to Drew:
— Drew Petrimoulx (@DrewPetrimoulx) September 1, 2016
Interesting. Of course, one had to expect that he would deny the allegations. But to decline to go on camera and defend himself? That seems curious. I mean, I can only speak for myself, but I know that, if someone made similar allegations against me and I knew the allegations were false, I would be shouting that from the rooftops and going on every station that would have me to refute the accusations. I would also be filing a libel suit immediately and doing whatever I could to clear my name, but your methods may vary on something like that.
One other thing worth mentioning (or, I suppose, rementioning) is what I wrote yesterday regarding how someone might respond to these allegations:
An honest man would take one of two approaches at this point: he would either admit his wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness and drop out, OR he would sue the author of this post for libel. A dishonest man would deny, with or without accompanying bluster and outrage, and simply stay in the race and hope no one paid attention to his past.
I’d say claiming the allegations are false and declining to even say that directly to a camera comes pretty close to that second option.