Sen. Heitkamp apologizes for ad outing sexual, domestic assault victims

Published: Oct. 16, 2018 at 9:13 AM CDT
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UPDATE: Several victims of domestic and sexual assault have come forward on social media expressing their anger on a campaign ad that they say outed them. The Sd was published by the Sen. Heidi Heitkamp campaign over the weekend in several newspapers across the state.

Many victims say they're not only upset about the breach of privacy but they're afraid for their lives.

A woman in her 20's who I spoke with says she agrees with the letter to congressman Cramer that was published by Heitkamp, but doesn't agree with having her name published without her approval.

This Ad was published on several newspapers across North Dakota.

We have blurred the victims’ names for their protection.

"None of us even knew about it until late last night or early this morning and like I said I don’t know what Heidi is gonna do this to retract this but a simple apology over the phone isn’t going to cut it for most of us I don't think," says one of the victims who was named in the Ad without her consent.

Many taking to social media claiming their names were published on this ad without their consent. One victim in her twenties says this all started after she was tagged in a post that she never responded to asking for women to initial Heitkamp's letter to Congressman Cramer.

Victim: "Some of the woman that were put on the list, their names on the list are spelled exactly how their names are on Facebook. It's not actually how they're spelled in person. So I know these names came strictly from Facebook. "

She says she's terrified for her safety like many other victims because of this situation.

Victim: "There are people that I'm in hiding from when these actions happened to me when I was a teenager. My name being blasted out there, you know, especially I didn't realize this until this morning that the town that I live in was also posted on this."

Several victims say they feel humiliated and hurt and say it will take a lot more than a phone call from Heitkamp to make things better.

Several people say they are looking into seeking legal action against Heitkamp.

In a release Tuesday morning Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., apologized for an ad that she ran in the Bismarck Tribune over the weekend.

The ad named victims of domestic and sexual assault. Several people listed in the ad are outraged and have taken to social media to complain that they never authorized their names to be published.

“We recently discovered that several of the women’s names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse,” said Heitkamp. “I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction.”

In the release Heitkamp says the ad was released because she claims her opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., made dismissive comments toward sexual assault survivors.

She says her campaign and victim advocates worked to identify women who would be willing to sign her open letter to Congressman Cramer in the Ad, or share their story.

There are 128 victims’ names listed in the published campaign ad.

Check back for more details on this developing story.

Heidi responds to release of victims's names

Senator Heidi Heitkamp speaks after issuing apology Tuesday for releasing the names of sexual and domestic assault victims in an ad.

Posted by KFYR-TV on Tuesday, October 16, 2018