Sen. Brown Writes He Was Abused As A Child
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The junior senator from Massachusetts has made revaluations about his youth. Republican Scott Brown has published a memoir called "Against All Odds." In that memoir Brown reveals a secret he kept for decades - that he was sexually abused as a child. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.
TOVIA SMITH: Scott Brown has talked a lot about his rough childhood in a broken home, with a mom on welfare and stepfathers who beat both Brown and his mother. But this is the first time he's talked about any sexual abuse.
In an interview taped for broadcast Sunday on "60 Minutes," Brown says he was molested several times when he was 10 by a counselor at a summer camp.
Senator SCOTT BROWN (Republican, Massachusetts): Fortunately nothing was ever fully consummated, so to speak. But it was certainly back then very traumatic. He said if you tell anybody, you know, I'll kill you.
SMITH: In his book, Brown lays out a graphic description of the abuse, and in the interview with Leslie Stahl he explains the embarrassment and fear that made him keep quiet.
Sen. BROWN: They make you believe that no one will believe you. You know, you can't...
Ms. LESLIE STAHL ("60 Minutes"): So you never reported it?
Senator BROWN: No. My mom will read about it for first time. My wife is...
Ms. STAHL: Doesn't even know.
Senator BROWN: No. No one - I have never told anybody.
State Representative JIM VALLEY (Democrat, Massachusetts): I am shocked and surprised. But I'm just not surprised that he wasn't running around telling folks about it. That is what I'm not surprised about.
SMITH: Massachusetts State Representative Jim Valley, a Democrat, has been good friends with Brown since they served together 20-plus years ago in the National Guard. Even as they co-sponsored legislation to crack down on sex offenders, Valley says Brown never let on that it was personal for him.
State Rep. VALLEY: He's just - he's not a guy that, you know, walks around baring his soul. He just - he's a very private person. He just he doesn't complain about anything.
SMITH: Brown says he decided to reveal his sexual abuse now because his life story is about overcoming obstacles and he hopes to inspire others.
His memoir and publicity tour come as he faces another obstacle ahead - that is, the election of 2012, when Brown will likely face challengers from the right as well as the left.
University of Massachusetts Boston Professor Paul Wantanabe says Brown's story may help humanize him and may even sell books, but it's unlikely to sway voters either way.
Professor PAUL WANTANABE (University of Massachusetts, Boston): The fact of the matter is, this is not going to bring about any significant movement toward him from those people who are determined - and there are many who are determined -to try to take that seat away from him.
SMITH: Once a Tea Party hero who slayed the Democratic supermajority when he won the race to succeed the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Brown has cut a pretty moderate course as senator and has disappointed many conservatives with votes, for example, for gays in the military and the financial reform bill.
Ms. CHRISTEN VARLEY (President, Greater Boston Tea Party): And that was, you know, a hard one to swallow.
SMITH: But Greater Boston Tea Party president Christen Varley says Brown's appeal is his proven electability in a very blue state. And many conservatives understand he may be as good as they're going to get.
Ms. VARLEY: I think when people come down to it, they realize that it's better to have someone on your side 90 percent of the time than it is to risk having someone on your side three percent of the time.
SMITH: For his part, Brown says he's ready for any political challenge that comes his way. He tells "60 Minutes" the political rough and tumble is nothing compared to what he's been through personally.
Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.
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