Michael Delaney, former New Hampshire Attorney, was nominated by President Joe Biden in January to be a First Circuit Court of Appeals judge. This week he has endured hard scrutiny during a Senate confirmation hearing regarding his 2014 defense of a New Hampshire sexual assault case. In the case, Delaney served as counsel for the St. Paul’s School in a lawsuit where Chessy Prout had been sexually assaulted when she was 15 by another student. Delaney argued the girl’s identity be made public and the Senate hearing questioned him about allegations of witness tampering which made by Prout.
“Michael Delaney is not ethically qualified to sit on the bench,” Prout wrote the committee. “A lawyer who practices victim intimidation is doing nothing for the greater good of the community; he stands in the way of justice and furthermore keeps his community in a toxic cycle of harm and silence.”
“What kind of message do you think your conduct sends to survivors of sexual assault?” Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked.
Delaney responded to the questioning, “I am aware that questions have been raised about a legal pleading I filed in private practice following a horrific sexual assault of a high school student by another student.”
Blackburn says Delaney’s decision to protect the school but not the identity of a child who had been sexually abused sends a “chilling message to the young ladies or young men” who have experienced sexual assault.
“So we’ve seen institutions that harbor rape culture, the tactics that they use to isolate and silence and shame survivors of sexual assault, and to have somebody like Delaney, in this important position, will send an absolutely chilling message to all survivors and advocates,” Alex Prout said in an interview Thursday.