After repeatedly making the false allegation that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings failed to report to authorities the "statutory rape" of a former student when -- 21 years ago -- the student told him he was involved with an "older man," Fox News host Sean Hannity admitted that "the kid has since come out, and he said, 'No, no, I was 16 at the time,' " but added, "I'm not convinced of the timeline." In fact, both the "timeline" established by Jennings' books and the available evidence conclusively demonstrate that the student turned 16 -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts -- before Jennings began teaching at his school and well before the time of his conversation with Jennings.
Hannity says he is "not convinced of the timeline" proving student was 16 at the time of the incident
From the October 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: All right, so we have a safe schools czar, and I'm being attacked, you know, relentlessly by the left because I'm saying that I think Kevin Jennings, the safe school czar, should be fired.
Now, here's a guy, he admitted that he gave counsel and advice to a 15-year-old sophomore who came to him and said he was having sex with an adult. And his only advice, he brags about it -- his own words, not mine - - was, you know, "I hope you used a condom."
Now, the kid has since come out, and he said, "No, no, I was 16 at the time." I'm not convinced of the timeline. But that's neither here or there. Jennings is the one that said the kid was 15. And he spoke about it, and spoke about it extensively.
Jennings' books establish the timeline of the incident
Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son: Jennings started teaching at Concord Academy in August or September of 1987. In Jennings' 2006 memoir, Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son, he makes clear that he began teaching at Concord Academy, the student in question's school, in late August or September 1987.
One Teacher in Ten: Jennings met student "in 1987, my first year of teaching at Concord." In his 1994 book, One Teacher in Ten: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories, Jennings described the student -- whom Jennings referred to as "Brewster" -- as "a sophomore boy who I came to know in 1987, my first year of teaching at Concord Academy, in Concord, Massachusetts."
One Teacher in Ten: Jennings discussed student's "involvement with an older man" in "spring of 1988." In One Teacher in Ten, Jennings writes that "during the spring of 1988," Brewster told Jennings "a story about his involvement with an older man he had met in Boston." Jennings wrote that he "listened, sympathized, and offered advice."
The student has confirmed that he was 16 -- which is, and was MA age of consent -- in 1988
Driver's license confirms student was 16 at the time. Media Matters for America exclusively obtained Brewster's Massachusetts driver's license, confirming that his date of birth is July 31, 1971, making him 16 years old -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts -- throughout the 1987-88 school year.
Student says he was "a sixteen year-old" and was the age "of legal consent" when the incident took place "in 1988." In an October 2 statement obtained by Media Matters, Brewster said:
Since I was of legal consent at the time, the fifteen-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings twenty-one years ago is of nobody's concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my "well-being" and that of America's students, they'll be relieved to know that I was not "inducted" into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.
In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation's students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings' courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I'd be the proud gay man that I am today.
Jennings' attorney in 2004: Conversation was "with a sixteen-year-old student"; "no factual basis" that Jennings was "aware of any sexual victimization of any student." In an August 3, 2004, letter, Constance M. Boland of the law firm Nixon Peabody -- which represented the organization that Jennings ran -- wrote that the "conversation" Jennings had was with "a sixteen-year-old student" and that there "is no factual basis whatsoever for" the "claim that Mr. Jennings engaged in unethical practices, or that he was aware of any sexual victimization of any student, or that he declined to report any sexual victimization at any time." [Boland letter, 8/3/04].
CNN, Fox News have acknowledged student was 16 at the time
CNN's Yellin cited student's license, statement in debunking right-wing smears. After reporting that CNN spoke to Brewster and reading from the same statement Brewster had provided to Media Matters, CNN's Jessica Yellin reported that "the critics have also contended that Brewster was 15 at the time of this incident; the Fox News website continues to report that." Yellin then aired an image of Brewster's driver's license, stating that it "verifies he was actually 16 at the time, not 15, which means that if there had been sex, he was actually the legal age of consent in Massachusetts." [CNN's The Situation Room, 10/2/09]
FoxNews.com issues "Editor's Note" confirming student was 16 at the time. Fox News has appended the following editor's note to two FoxNews.com stories that stated or suggested that Brewster was 15 at the time of his conversation with Jennings: "Since this story was originally published, the former student referred to as 'Brewster' has stepped forward to reveal that he was 16 years old, not 15, at the time of the incident described in this report."
Hannity has repeatedly advanced smear that student was 15, Jennings failed to report "statutory rape"
Hannity: Jennings did not tell authorities about "statutory rape" of 15-year-old. From the "Great American Panel" segment of the October 1 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: All right. So we have, you know, another czar in trouble -- and many of them. All right, the latest one, this guy Kevin Jennings. You know, here's a guy -- you're a pastor -- and a 15-year-old kid goes into his office, seeks advice. He's having a relationship with an older -- with an adult, which, by the way, he said it was 15. That would be statutory rape.
And does he call the police, does he tell authorities, does he get in counseling? No, he asks him if he wore a condom.
Hannity: "As The Washington Times said, 'At the very least, statutory rape occurred,' and he didn't report it." On the September 30 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity said: "We have the safe schools czar, a guy by the name of Kevin Jennings, OK? And he writes this book, and he gives information to a 15-year-old -- ABC News and Jake Tapper write about this tonight -- a 15-year-old sophomore, and his advice to him when he's having a gay relationship is, you know, 'Did you use a condom?' He knew it was an older adult. Now, as The Washington Times said, 'At the very least, statutory rape occurred,' and he didn't report it. Now he's saying that he made a mistake, only because it's been reported on. My question is, where's the vetting process? Why was he even put in this position?" Hannity went on to call for Jennings to be "fired."