When the #MeToo movement started, I stayed silent. Even though I had been groped more times than I can count, I thought that there were enough voices and my experiences were so long ago they weren’t relevant.

When voices spoke against Christine Blasey Ford, saying that she couldn’t be telling the truth, I stayed silent. Even though I had been assaulted and almost raped in a manner eerily similar to her and had almost exactly the same lapses in memory, I thought surely someone else more credentialed would speak out in her defense and be heard.

Now, I cannot stay silent. The death of Lauren McCluskey at the hands of a known rapist, registered sex offender, parolee and alleged extortionist, predator and stalker is just too much to bear.

I will reserve final judgment until the official investigations are complete, but given the timeline of events, it is apparent that our criminal justice system failed McCluskey miserably. The exact reasons are yet to be determined, but I cannot help but wonder if somehow cultural/societal bias didn’t play a part.

Were her complaints to police really taken seriously, or was there a subconscious feeling of “she’s just overreacting; females are so emotional”? Were his prior crimes really taken seriously by the justice system? Or was he given leeway because the situation was he said-she said?

If it is he said-she said, who is most often given the benefit of the doubt? Ford wasn’t called an outright liar, but told she was mistaken in her memories, while Brett Kavanaugh was taken at his word that the event never happened. No one ever suggested that he was “mistaken.”

To quote the Rape Recovery Center’s current campaign, “Believe Survivors.” And to quote McCluskey’s roommate (as per The Salt Lake Tribune Oct. 27), “I wish when we went together to campus police they would have believed us.”

I challenge everyone reading this to do some soul searching. Lauren McCluskey deserves justice, as do ALL women. Will you be a part of making that a reality?

Kandy Richards, Salt Lake City