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Tom Abinanti of Westchester, NY accused of diminishing date rape


With next week’s primary election just days away, former Westchester Assembly voter Tom Abinanti accuses him of playing down the notion of rape at a meeting of local Democrats in 2018.

The six-term legislator faces a tough challenge from County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, whose campaign insists she has nothing to do with an average June 16 post where Liv Bespolka makes the allegation while by urging voters to remove Abinanti from office.

“You went on a long tangent denigrating date rape, saying it was aimed at men, that it was all the college-aged girls who just regretted their sexual activity and blamed their partners for rape. vividly remember those dismissive air quotes you used to describe ‘date rape’,” Bespolka — who uses them as a personal pronoun — said in the post.

The alleged comments were particularly hurtful to Bespolka, then 19, because of the “rape, harassment and abuse” she says she endured in college the previous year.

Official minutes from the September 15, 2018, meeting of the Mt. Pleasant Democratic Committee show Abinanti discussed “his campaign for re-election” with few details about his specific comments. No audio or video recording of the meeting exists.

“I did not make the alleged comments,” Abinanti told the Post.

Liv Bespolka took offense at the degrading comment allegedly made by MP Abinanti.
Courtesy of Liv Bespolka

“The false allegation is contrary to who I am as a person, husband, father and public servant. My record of years of public service is clear: I have spent my career advocating for women’s rights and supporting survivors,” he added.

Two executives from the Mt. Pleasant club, which backed him for re-election, backed up his account in separate interviews with The Post.

“I would have noticed and I know I haven’t seen or heard anything like it,” said committee vice-chair Francesca Hagadus-McHale.

But Bespolka’s mother, Rosamond Kinzler, told the Post she attended the meeting and supported their narrative, including Abinanti’s use of air quotes with the phrase “date rape.”

Tom Abinanti of Westchester, NY accused of diminishing date rape
Rosamond Kinzler supported the account that Assemblyman Abinanti used aerial quotes around “date rape”.
Carl Bespolka

Her husband, Carl Bespolka, said he heard about all of this after Liv and Rosamond returned from the 2018 reunion, while a former colleague said Liv Bespolka mentioned it in 2020.

Abinanti dismissed the allegation as a “sneaky, underhanded” effort by political opponents backing Shimsky, but Bespolka said speaking out ahead of Election Day was about more than who would win the Democratic primary next Tuesday.

“People running for office and in office need to be held accountable for what they say and recognize that the words they say have an impact beyond perhaps what they understand and be prepared for the consequences of these things,” Bespolka said.

New York Post

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