GOP Leadership Elections

Source: Tom Williams / Getty

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) is facing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by several women when he was a student at Patrick Henry College in Virginia.

Former classmates say the 25-year-old rising star of the GOP and youngest member of Congress developed a reputation of taking women on “fun” drives as a way to make unwanted advances on them, according to a report from CNN.

“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 the network in an interview.

Coulter said she was taken on something Cawthorn called a “fun drive,” where he asked about her purity ring and her sexual experiences. She says she felt something was off and shut down the conversation.

“He got really upset. And he whipped the car around and started going back to campus at 70-80 miles an hour on these one-lane roads,” she said. “And it was — it was really scary.”

Two other women who went to school with the Congressman came forward with similar accusations. Both of whom mentioned Cawthorn’s invitations for “fun” drives, and said that turning him down would result in more unwanted attention.

“There was a lot of sexual innuendo,” said Leah Petree, another former student at the school. “It got really uncomfortable walking to and from class. He would yell out, ‘Are you ready to take that fun drive today?'”

In addition to the claims by the former Patrick Henry students, at least two women have alleged that Cawthorn had forcibly kissed or touched them years ago, claims he has previously denied. Cawthorn responded by saying he regretted actions he took and apologized to anybody he “made feel uncomfortable.”

Prior to Cawthorn being elected to Congress, about 150 of his peers signed a letter to denounce his actions and said his behavior was “widely-known” among the students.

“During his brief time at the college, Cawthorn established a reputation for predatory behavior. His modus operandi was to invite unsuspecting women on ‘joy rides’ in his white Dodge Challenger. Cawthorn would take young women to secluded areas, lock the doors, and proceed to make unwanted sexual advances,” the letter read, noting that women at the school were warned not to be alone with Cawthorn.

The representative of North Carolina’s 11th district has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since the allegations surfaced saying, “I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life.”

Cawthorn was invited to speak at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. last week. He was one of 13 GOP members who voted by proxy Friday on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The group filed letters with the House clerk stating that they were unable to attend floor proceedings “due to the ongoing public health emergency” when they were in-attendance at CPAC.