Stephanie Cashion, Wyandotte County GOP vice chair, has filed a battery report with Bonner Springs police against Johnson County GOP chair Fabian Shepard. She says Shepard ambushed her outside a pro-life event there on Aug. 20.
The two had stepped outside for a conversation. According to Cashion, “He turns the corner and he grabs me and he freakin’ kisses me.” As she froze in shock, she says, he did it again, and tried to do so a third time before she was able to push away from him.
“Well, that was weird,” Cashion recalls Shepard saying after the first kiss. “That wasn’t a good kiss. You wouldn’t even look me in my eyes. Am I a bad kisser or something?”
Shepard vehemently denies the allegation.
Retired Kansas City, Kansas police officer and GOP activist Duane Beth, the first to greet Cashion when she came back inside the event that night, said he could tell something was wrong.
“She looked scared and quiet and upset when I saw her, when she walked in the door,” Beth said. When Shepard joined them, Beth says, Cashion “walked over to the other side of me and put me between her and him and turned her back to us, which I thought was kind of strange.”
Later that evening, Beth says Cashion burst into tears and told him what had happened, saying, “I can’t believe he stuck his f---ing tongue down my throat.”
Beth wrote his own report of what she’d told him and, after convincing her to report him to authorities, went with her to the Bonner Springs police. Beth says he believes her “100%.”
Does the state party? Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman says he’s surprised Cashion talked to us after telling him she wanted confidentiality and no drama. Kuckelman says it’s ultimately a “he said/she said” situation between two adults whom he has no authority over who were at a non-GOP event. He said people need to let law enforcement sort it out: “And that’s what everybody should be doing right now. You don’t go to media, you don’t do news articles about it,” he said.
The offensive term “he said/she said” generally means, “I don’t care to know,” and that seems to be the case here.
Even serious sex crimes are rarely prosecuted
Beth, who also spoke to Kuckelman, says the state party chair didn’t seem to take Cashion’s claim seriously enough to take action. Beth says Kuckelman told him that Shepard had vehemently denied the incident, and claimed that it was Cashion who had kissed him at a previous Chamber of Commerce event in Kansas City, Kansas.
Shepard told us Cashion had kissed him on the cheek.
Shepard’s supporters say they believe Cashion’s accusation is political retaliation against him for rejecting her idea for a joint GOP fundraiser — after her 3rd District GOP organization became overcommitted in its spending.
“To suggest that a woman would make a serious claim about sexual harassment to cover up a petty and false allegation of overspending is an insult to all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted,” Cashion said.
She thinks Shepard should resign, and Beth agrees.
Cashion says the situation has left her with “victim guilt.” She told another party official — who found her crying alone outside another recent event — that “my initial reaction is just to resign from everything and just go away. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to keep my commitments. I’m going to hold my head up and keep moving forward.”
The Kansas Republican Party needs to take this allegation seriously. And despite his protestations, Kuckelman could do more about it. He could interview the parties and witnesses in much more depth and try harder to get at the truth.
The idea that it should be left to law enforcement to vet Cashion’s claims that Shepard forcibly kissed her is made ridiculous by the fact that even the most serious sex crimes are rarely prosecuted unless and until they involve a homicide. Fewer than 1% of rapes lead to a felony conviction.
“I’ve worked my butt off for this state and this party. I have bled for the state of Kansas’ politics. And I feel alienated and I feel scrutinized,” Cashion says. “I know what happens when women come forward. And it’s happening right now. This is exactly why women don’t want to come forward with things like this.”