Does The Wu Scandal Show Some People Cannot Change?

Once a Creep Always a Creep?

Once a Creep Always a Creep?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 26 2011 5:15 PM

Once a Creep Always a Creep?

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Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Rachael, Jessica, one thing that’s haunting me about the resignation of Rep. David Wu is the fact that back in college in 1976 he got in a very ugly incident with an ex-girlfriend which clearly sounds as if he tried to rape her. She has refused to come forward to tell what happened (and who can blame her). But he was forced to tacitly acknowledge he did something unforgivable when The Oregonian uncovered the incident in 2004. Wu said then, “As a 21-year-old, I hurt someone I cared very much about. I take full responsibility for my actions and I am very sorry... This single event forever changed my life and the person that I have become." Sounds good, right? People can do awful things, learn from them, dedicate themselves to be better because of confronting their own darkness, and go on to never repeat such behavior. But Wu went on to repeat such behavior. Now at age 56, he’s facing allegations that he tried to sexually assault a young woman around age 18 – just about the same age as the ex girlfriend in college – and will be resigning from the House.

Jess, you mentioned how this reminded you of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sex scandals. It made me wonder if Maria could have been really surprised that her husband fathered a child with a member of the household staff since prior to his election she had to come to his defense against allegations of his crude sexual behavior against women on his movie sets. It also made me think of Anthony Weiner when he acknowledged at a press conference that before his marriage he told his now-wife that he’d had problems indulging in on-line sex, but all that was over. I’ve known, we’ve all known, alcoholics who have been sober for decades, former sexual adventurers who’ve turned into faithful spouses. But the Wu story raises hard questions about how, once you know something terrible about someone, you can really have faith that they’ve changed.

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.