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Rep. Jim Renacci: 'Multiple women' contacted me to say they were assaulted by Sen. Sherrod Brown

Brown's campaign calls the claim 'desperate.'
Jim Renacci, U.S. Representative, 16th district of Ohio, speaks to The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board Wednesday October 17, 2018. (Photo: Cara Owsley/The Enquirer)

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci stepped up his abuse allegations against his Democratic opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Renacci on Wednesday told The Enquirer's editorial board "multiple women" have contacted him and alleged his Democratic opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, assaulted them.

The claim comes less than three weeks before Election Day in a race in which Renacci trails by double digits, according to a number of recent polls.

Renacci didn't provide any proof or specifics. He said he referred the women to an attorney specializing in domestic abuse. He wouldn't name the attorney or the women and wouldn't say how many women have approached him.

"I've had multiple women contact me and say I was assaulted by Sherrod Brown," Renacci said.

Renacci said the allegations stem from the period between Brown's first marriage, which ended in 1987, and his current marriage, which began in 2004

"It's more than just one instance," Renacci said. "That makes it even worse."

Brown's campaign denied Renacci's claims.

"Congressman Renacci's failed and desperate campaign gets worse every day," Brown's campaign said in a statement.

For months, Renacci has hammered Brown on a three-decade-old domestic abuse allegation and restraining order filed against him by his ex-wife in 1986 amid a contentious divorce.

In ads and speeches, Renacci has slammed Democrats for using a different standard of conduct for Brown than they do for Republicans accused of assault.

Renacci brought up the domestic violence allegation against Brown multiple times during his debate with Brown on Sunday.

Brown's ex-wife, Larke Recchie, has strongly condemned Renacci's attacks on Brown.

Brown and Recchie have since remarried other people but have mended fences, with Recchie supporting Brown's candidacy and recording a pro-Brown ad describing Renacci's attacks as "just wrong."

Recchie has asked Republicans to stop going after her family "to score cheap political points."

"I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006 and 2012, just as I am this time around," Recchie said in a statement issued in September. "Anyone who suggests he is not an honorable man is just wrong. He's a great father to our daughters Emily and Liz and he's a wonderful grandfather to our grandchildren."

Recchie's change of heart didn't change Renacci's heart.

"The documentation shows something totally different," Renacci said. "She has multiple affidavits of fear, abuse, fear for her children. God bless her for forgiving him."

While Renacci has gone after Brown's past, he defended President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom have been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.

He spoke with The Enquirer just days after standing on a stage in Warren County with Trump this past Friday.

He said the accusations against Trump and Kavanaugh were "unsubstantiated."

"When there's no substantiation, you shouldn't be attacking people," Renacci said.

Recchie's three-decade-old accusation against Brown is more solid because of "3 1/2 years of court documents."

"There's a big difference between allegations and court documents," Renacci said.

The strategy doesn't seem to be having the desired effect for Renacci. Multiple polls have shown Brown far ahead of Renacci, most with double-digit leads

This includes a Suffolk University poll commissioned by The Enquirer showing Brown leading Renacci 54 percent to 36 percent.

Also from Wednesday's editorial board:

  • Renacci came out against "sanctuary cities" that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws. Any city that calls itself a sanctuary city should be denied federal money, he said. "I don't think any city should be violating federal law," Renacci said. Cincinnati has declared itself a "sanctuary city" but what that means is murky.
  • Renacci wants to promote policies to encourage doctors to prescribe fewer opioids to manage pain. Aspirin and other medications should be looked at first before prescribing addictive painkillers. "Let's look at the doctors prescribing to people who susceptible to being opioid addicts and hold them somewhat accountable," Renacci said. "Let's look at the hospitals and care facilities and see if we can't go back to aspirin therapy instead of opioid therapy."