Pity the poor sainted man forced to interrupt his important work of “crushing bastards” to field the odd question about sexual assault. Which brings us to your must-read of the evening — the Guardian’s exclusive detailed look at the allegations against Assange as told to Swedish police by his two alleged victims. I’m going to resist the urge to blockquote it because if I do then some people won’t read the story, and full context in this case is important. The basic basics: One woman claims that she was uncomfortable with how quickly things developed and that initially he held her arms and pinned her legs while they were having sex when she went to reach for a condom. Then he let go and agreed to use one, but she thinks he might have torn it deliberately. The other woman claims she was asleep — or maybe “half-asleep” — when she woke up to find him in the act, whereupon she said she hoped he didn’t have HIV but didn’t try to stop him. In both cases, the core objection seems to be the fact that he didn’t use a condom when asked, not the fact that sex took place at all; it’s not clear whether the women tried to end the encounters when the condom issue arose or whether they went along grudgingly. The first woman did allegedly describe the encounter to a friend as “violent,” but she let him stay in her apartment for almost a week after that and apparently had no trouble turning down his advances afterward.
Can you get a conviction out of that fact pattern? We’ll see, but at the very least this undermines the claim that the charges are some sort of dirty trick being played on Assange by the U.S. government. If you were going to set a guy up by falsely accusing him of being a sexual predator, with the evidence based almost entirely on testimony from the victims and their friends, surely the false charges would have been more lurid than this. The thinking would be that if you can’t get a conviction, at least destroy his reputation; these claims are ambiguous enough that that won’t happen. Especially with progressive all-stars sneering on TV about how they’re a load of hooey.