AUSTIN, Texas - A controversial social media post about rape has cost a local attorney, with a high profile law firm, his job.
Attorney Robert Ranco was responding to changes in Title IX rules but his tweet Friday brought harsh criticism from both sides in the debate.
Robert Ranco was a partner with the Carlson Law Firm who specialized in civil rights cases. He most recently spoke to FOX7 in June about a student in Georgetown who claims she was being bullied because of her skin color.
"The text said hey dad is it racist when somebody calls a black person an ape,” said Ranco in a June 5th interview.
Ranco wasn't in his Round Rock office Monday working on that case, but was dealing with the fallout from a different kind of case of using the wrong words. Friday, on social media he posted;
“I’m not wishing for it ... But I'd be ok if #BetsyDevos was sexually assaulted.”
DeVos is the Secretary of Education and the post was in response to her plans for revamping Title IX rules on campus sex assaults. Guidance put in place by the Obama administration, according to DeVos, does not provide equal protections for both the accused and the accuser.
"The lesson here is if we are really interested in supporting survivors and pushing back against harmful policies we need to stick to the issues and prove our position is the sound one,” said Chris Kaiser with the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Kaiser doesn't like the proposed change, but he was shocked by Ranco's tweet.
"It’s absolutely unacceptable to treat the experience of sexual violence in such a glib and political manner, its disrespectful to sexual assault survivors who have had that experience, its discrediting to the hard work we have to do to push back against the department's agenda,” said Kaiser.
In a statement sent to FOX7 Kristen Lenau with The Safe Alliance said; "Any words that minimize the experience that a rape survivor goes through, and the impact of that violence on their life and community, are damaging to all of us."
The Carlson Firm, Monday, did make its own official social media post stating;
"Let us be clear that no woman should EVER be sexually assaulted and there is NEVER an acceptable reason when it happens. No one in our firm, including Rob Ranco, believes otherwise."
Comments posted on the company facebook site ridiculed the firm's statement. Many of those who posted noted that Ranco's original tweet contradicts the claim by the firm. By Monday afternoon the support by the law firm had eroded which resulted in the resignation of Ranco. The Founder of the law Firm, Craig Carlson, in a statement indicated the Tweet was a line that could not be uncrossed. The following is the full statement by Carlson;
“For those of you who are wondering why this took so long, let me start by saying that this firm is a family and believe it's up to me to show the same loyalty that I ask of my people. I wasn't going to make a rash decision about a member of this family just to appease people on social media. That said, I considered the health of everyone in our organization, promised my partners and my employees that we would act according to the values of our firm, and sat down to speak with Mr. Ranco.
In the end, we came to the same two conclusions: With over 150 employees - 75% or whom are women - anyone in our company advocating or even expressing apathy towards sexual assault is affront to all victims and a line that simply cannot be uncrossed.
This has been an enormous distraction that has taken us away from the mission of our firm, which is to care for and help people. Understanding and accepting this, Rob is taking full responsibility and choosing to resign.
As a man of faith, believer in forgiveness, and longtime friend, it is my sincere hope that Rob with learn from this experience and go on to have a very successful career.”
The Carlson Law Firm
A spokesperson for the firm pointed out that Robert Ranco made the controversial post on his own social media account and not on the company's account. Ranco has deleted his Twitter account and reportedly called his tweet a mistake.