The woman at the center of Rand Paul’s “Aqua Buddha” scandal spoke to Greg Sargent. Here’s what she had to say: Paul and his friend didn’t force her to do anything, or kidnap her, but they did blindfold her, put her in a creek and make her worship his made-up water god.
“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she told me. “They didn’t force me, they didn’t make me. They were creating this drama: `We’re messing with you.'”
The woman said that much of the subsequent coverage of her allegations missed a key nuance: As a participant in a college ritual, where lines between acquiescence and victimization are often blurry, she was largely playing along with the notion that she was being forced to follow Paul’s orders.
“I went along because they were my friends,” she said. “There was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing. I felt like I was being hazed.”
Sargent notes — as I did yesterday — that Paul has declined to discuss the details of the woman’s account, choosing instead to refute the “kidnapping” charges that were never in the original GQ article that started the Aqua Buddha ball rolling.
“In response to this latest round of allegations, the Paul campaign claimed vindication about the ‘kidnapping’ while again declining to directly address the lurid charges about the prank,” Sargent writes.
The woman chose to remain anonymous in her conversation with Sargent, just as she did with GQ. Sargent explains:
In our conversation, she elaborated that she doesn’t want her name in print because she’s a clinical psychologist who works with former members of the military, some of whom are Tea Partyers, and fears that complicating Paul’s Senate run could put her in danger.
Despite the fact that the woman really didn’t change her story at all in her interview with Sargent, Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, told the Washington Post blogger that the new interview put the story behind Paul for good.
“It is satisfying to see the libelous and grossly irresponsible charges of kidnapping completely shot down,” Benton told Sargent.