The law firm run by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick pledges to help people accused of sexual assault by vilifying the victim.
“We will investigate your case and seek to discredit your accuser,” the firm’s website claims.
In a pitch to potential clients, the firm says it can work “to get the charges (of sexual assault) dismissed or at least downgraded.”
The text on jonbramnick.com, the website of Bramnick’s 20-lawyer firm, Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, is part of an extensive section on legal strategies aimed at convincing clients accused of sexual assault to sign up with the firm.
Bramnick appears to disregard recent international attention of the #MeToo Movement and takes a misogynistic tone.
“We know, unfortunately, people accuse others of these types of crimes because of hurt feelings, or in anger over breaking up or even confusion over what actually happened,” Bramnick’s law firm says. “Maybe you, as the one charged, may have believed the sexual act was consensual. Maybe you were unknowingly drugged and did not have the capacity to control your behavior, let alone to form a criminal intent.”
Nancy Erika Smith, one of the nation’s leading attorneys in the defense of sexual harassment victims, told the New Jersey Globe that she never advertises to potential clients, “I’ll believe everything you say and sue whoever you want.” She says she vets each case and looks at evidence.
“Of course everyone has a right to a defense – but I think attacking the accuser is used most in allegations of sexual abuse. In what other area is attacking the accuser the main theme?” Smith said. “It’s rooted in the ancient idea that men dominate women and can demand sex without consequences.
The verbiage on law firm website is offensive, according to Anjali Mehrotra, the president of the National Organization for Women – New Jersey.
“Rape is the most under-reported crime in America and that fact should come as no surprise when there are lawyers like this chomping to defend the accused and discredit victims,” said Mehrotra. “The National Organization of Women of New Jersey fights for justice for sexual assault victims, and as President, I find this kind of language appalling.”
Bramnick’s unabashed willingness to attack victims of sexual assault could cost him votes in an already facing a tough race for re-election next month against two Democratic women, Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.
“Many voters would find it distasteful to learn that the minority leader of the New Jersey General Assembly is advertising his professional service of discrediting women who come forward to report what they’ve been through,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rutgers University.
Rasmussen suggested that the suburban, Democratic-leaning district would significant unease with how Christine Blasey Ford was treated during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Learning that their state legislator holds himself out as a professional who specializes in this kind of work would be a real eye-opener,” said Rasmussen. “I’d be incredibly curious to see how the minority leader explains his involvement in this field of specialty, and whether his running mate (incumbent Nancy Munoz) is comfortable knowing about it.”
It’s not immediately clear how the views of Bramnick’s law firm will affect his re-election prospects.
“I would not expect to see an entire campaign unfold around this over the next few weeks— for one thing, there’s not enough time, and for another, we have seen that this is a deeply divisive topic with incredibly strong and polarizing feelings.” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen suggested that more than a few voters in the suburban district, which includes towns like Westfield, Summit, Cranford, Bernards and Chatham, have received workplace training that “flies directly in the face of professionally disbelieving accusers.”
During his re-election campaign last year, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) attracted attention when he was secretly recorded disputing Blasey Ford’s allegation against Kavanaugh.
“I tend not to believe the charges,” Lance told members of the College Republicans at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
In a congressional district that includes most of the municipalities in Bramnick’s legislative district, Democrat Tom Malinowski, now a congressman, ran a TV ad criticizing Lance’s statement.
Smith said that idea that women frequently lie about sexual abuse has been debunked.
“In fact, the opposite is true. Many women never even report sex abuse. And corporations have developed a catch and kill industry to shut women up,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the courts have ruled – with a notable dissent by new Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin – that employee must allow employees a chance to investigate claims of sexual harassment and discrimination.
“In no other field does the wrongdoer get the first crack at the victim & evidence. Then the HR and corporate legal teams go into action. The victim is scared & intimidated – or cynically encouraged to back down,” Smith said. “Then the victim is offered a ‘package’ to leave. It becomes clear the career is no longer tenable. The victim leaves – with instructions to ‘shut up about it or we’ll sue you.’”
That leaves the harasser free to abuse again,” Smith explained.
“This paradigm has to end,” said Smith.
Bramnick did not immediately respond to several calls and texts beginning at 9:50 AM. Bramnick’s aide did not immediately respond to calls and texts beginning at 9:52 AM.