Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress at age 25, is facing scrutiny of his time in college after reports of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by BuzzFeed News, The Washington Postand CNN.
Several women say Cawthorn put them in uncomfortable situations, including taking them on drives and making unwanted advances. The three media outlets spoke with former classmates at Patrick Henry College in Virginia.
Cawthorn attended the private Christian school for less than a year in 2016 before dropping out.
Some of the women recounted times when Cawthorn was aggressive, misogynistic or predatory toward them, according to BuzzFeed News.They say Cawthorn, who was 21 at the time, would call them derogatory names in front of others and ask “inappropriate” questions about their sex lives. They also allege he kissed and touched them without their consent.
Women also detailed rides Cawthorn would give them near campus, asking them about their virginity and sexual experiences while they were locked in the car.
"His MO was to take vulnerable women out on these rides with him in the car, and to make advances," Caitlin Coulter, one of Cawthorn's former classmates, told CNNin an interview.
The allegations have been around since he launched his campaign for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. But they are gaining more attention as Cawthorn moved to Washington, D.C. and has aligned himself with former President Donald Trump’s lies about the November election.
Cawthorn has denied the allegations, his office points to a statement the congressman made last fall, "I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life."
Also coming under new scrutiny are details around the accident that left Cawthorn paralyzed from the waist down while still a teenager.
Cawthorn has told crowds that his best friend at the time left him for dead after the crash, and that he was declared dead. He also claims he had been accepted to the Naval Academy before the crash, and used that line in his campaign.
The Washington Postspoke with his former best friend, who says he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. An accident report obtained by the paper says Cawthorn was “incapacitated,” but was not declared dead.
They and CNN also found that during a deposition after the accident, Cawthorn himself said he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before the crash.