Strom Thurmond may have raped teenager he got pregnant

By Sinclere Lee

Atlanta (BNW) –
Long before he was a hate-filled racist in the dirty South, Strom Thurmond like Thomas Jefferson before him was a rapist of helpless Black women in South Carolina. Consider this, the story came to light this week when it was revealed that Strom Thurmond, then 22-years old had sex with an under aged minor that ended in an unwanted pregnancy. By South Carolina law that's statutory rape, but it may have been forced rape!

An attorney for the family of former U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina on Monday confirmed that at the age of 22, Thurmond fathered a child with a teenaged African-American housekeeper in 1925. In other words it was rape; rape most foul of a child.

Thurmond, the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, died in June at age 100. His illegitimate daughter's story was published Sunday by the Washington Post.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, now 78 and a retired school teacher in Los Angeles, publicly revealed her relationship to the former segregationist after a lifetime of silence.

According to reports, her attorney, Frank Wheaton, said Williams came forward at the urging of her children and had no plans to ask the Thurmond estate for any money.

Monday's statement from the Thurmond family reads: "As J. Strom Thurmond has passed away and cannot speak for himself, the Thurmond family acknowledges Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams' claim to her heritage. We hope this acknowledgment will bring closure for Ms. Williams."

The Thurmond family attorney, J. Mark Taylor, declined further comment.

Glenn Walters, a South Carolina attorney also representing Williams, told CNN he was happy that the matter had been resolved in this manner. Walters was reportedly prepared to provide documentation and undergo a DNA test to prove her claim. Her attorney tells CNN no DNA test was done.

According to the Washington Post report, Washington-Williams' mother, Carrie Butler, worked as a maid at the Thurmond family home in Edgefield, South Carolina. At the time the girl was born in 1925, Butler was 16 and Thurmond was 22, unmarried and living in his parents' home.

Butler's sister took the girl to live in Pennsylvania when she was six months old, and she did not meet Thurmond until returning to South Carolina in 1941, when she was 16, the Post reported.

Her mother, who was ill and died a short time later, had insisted on introducing her to Thurmond, who acknowledged her as his daughter, the newspaper reported.
Name stamped across South Carolina

Thurmond's passing casts a long shadow over the South Carolina landscape, both politically and physically: Schools, courthouses, a lake, dam and highway bear his name.

"He's just a man with tremendously sensitive political antennae, personal drive and ambition -- good political judgment, amazing physical stamina and a strong drive to succeed," Bass said in a 2001 interview before Thurmond's death.

"He's rare among politicians in that he won't keep an enemy," he added. "Thurmond won't hold grudges -- he dissipates opposition. If you're a Democrat and you want help from him in a Republican administration, what he wants in return is a pledge of support in his next campaign. But in the meantime, you've got the grant."

But his fading health and his decision to not seek a ninth term in 2002, when he would have been nearly 100, set off a scramble to succeed him in a state where Senate seats become open about as often as snow falls on Charleston. Former Rep. Lindsey Graham -- one of the House managers during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton - won the seat in November 2002. It was the first open Senate seat in South Carolina in 36 years.

"There are plenty of people in this state pushing up daisies right now basing their political careers on waiting for Strom Thurmond to leave office," South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Henry McMaster told reporters in 2001.

On May 25, 1997, Thurmond broke the then-Senate longevity record of 42 years and 10 months. But he was not in Washington to celebrate. He was back home in Edgefield County, doing what he did best -- politicking.

He had a reputation as a man with an eye for the ladies that persisted until his last days in the Senate, when he swore in first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton as the junior senator from New York -- and welcomed her to the chamber with a hug. He made a reference to that reputation in his November 2002 farewell address on the Senate floor.

"I love all of you -- and especially your wives," Thurmond told his colleagues.

Thurmond started a family at a time when many of his contemporaries were retiring. In 1968, at age 66, he married Nancy Moore, a 22-year-old former Miss South Carolina. The couple had four children -- sons Strom Jr. and Paul and daughters Nancy and Juliana -- before separating in 1991.

He survived the 1960 loss of his first wife, Jean, whom he married in 1947, and his 22-year-old daughter Nancy, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1993. Before he retired, Thurmond also tried to use his clout to keep his family name in the public sphere.

In November 2001, Thurmond told The Charleston Post and Courier that he might step aside early if his estranged wife, Nancy, could take over. But the next day, his office released a statement saying the senator realized that "it would be completely inappropriate to consider leaving office prior to January 2003."

And in early 2001, he put his 28-year-old son, J. Strom Thurmond Jr., on a list of six candidates for the U.S. attorney's post in Columbia for the new Bush administration.

President George W. Bush nominated the younger Thurmond to the post and the Senate easily approved the nomination.

His segregationist presidential bid returned to the news near the end of his Senate term when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, speaking at a celebration of Thurmond's 100th birthday, suggested the nation would have been better off had Thurmond been elected. In the ensuing firestorm of criticism, Lott was forced to step down as majority leader.

On December 5, 2002, his 100th birthday, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said Thurmond was the "patriarch" of the Senate and called him "a man who has honored us through his friendship and his extraordinary example of service."

His retirement became official once the 108th Congress convened in January 2003. Thurmond then returned to South Carolina, where he lived in a private suite at the Edgefield County Hospital.



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