Justine Caldwell, who is exploring a candidacy against Representative Antonio Giarrusso in Rhode Island House District 30 (East Greenwich), issued the following statement in response to Giarrusso’s absence from, and comments regarding, yesterday’s sexual harassment training at the Rhode Island State House:
“Representative Giarrusso’s absence from the training is inexcusable, and his comments are completely irrelevant to the discussion provoked by #MeToo and Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown)’s experiences at the State House. His behavior makes it clear that he is oblivious — both to the experiences of women dealing with men in power, and to what we as a society, men and women, will need to do to fix it.
“Everyone has a role to play in making their workplaces places where women can be free from sexual harassment. Women being harassed, the men who harass them, men and women who witness harassment, men and women in whom harassers or harassment victims confide — all of these people are crucial to addressing the culture in which this behavior flourishes.
“Dealing with sexual harassment is a team effort. Showing up sends a message that you want to take a part in fixing the problem. Skipping it — and saying it’s because somehow you’d be letting your parents down by receiving training — unfortunately, sends the opposite message.
“Representative Giarrusso’s absence at this crucial moment demonstrates why the residents of our district need new leadership at the State House. On issue after issue, we see Representative Giarrusso not paying attention. Each time something like this happens, it strengthens my resolve to be the change so many of us seek.”
In the Providence Journal, Giarrusso is quoted as saying, “I just felt like, I’m a month away from my 56th birthday and I think I did all right with my life. Mostly, I felt like I’d be doing a disservice to my parents by going. They raised me to respect everyone, especially women.”