Senator David Vitter Calls Case of Violent Aide Old News

Arrest reports and court records describe the woman's account of the attack, which allegedly took place in Furer's apartment. She told police she was held against her will, stabbed in the hand, and cut so deeply on the chin that she required eight stitches. Furer pleaded guilty to three lesser charges and did not serve any jail time.

When ABC News initially asked Vitter's office to respond to questions about the 2008 incident, Joel DiGrado, the Senator's spokesman, said in an email that Furor was initially told to leave the office pending the court's determination of what happened. "In April, after the court issued its penalty (fine and community service), and in consultation with the congressional employment legal office, further significant disciplinary action was taken and he was allowed to return to the office."

Several groups have raised concerns about the matter, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Brian Namey, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, called the incident "profoundly upsetting."

Furer's Actions Condemned

"He should have denounced the actions and released the staffer," Namey said. "This is a person whose job it was to assist the senator on violence against women issue. That he of all people would be involved in an attack on a woman, it's particularly disturbing."

There has been a similar reaction in Vitter's home state, where the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic violence referred to Furer's actions as "deplorable." Beth Meeks, the coalition's executive director, said in an interview that she had been in Washington in June – just before news of the incident went public – and that Vitter had assigned Furer to meet with her to discuss the senator's views on domestic violence legislation.

Meeks said she is no longer surprised to discover authority figures involved in domestic violence -- a problem that cuts across all demographic and socio-economic boundaries. But she said it was "obviously upsetting for us and disturbing that [Furer] was assigned to be the point person on women's issues."

Among the most vocal critics, naturally, has been the Democratic congressman who is seeking to unseat Vitter in the 2010 Louisiana senate race, Rep. Charlie Melancon. Melancon has attempted to turn the incident into a referendum on Vitter's attitudes towards women.

Last week, the campaign distributed a video that called on Vitter to explain why he continued to employ Furer after the 2008 arrest. State Rep. Karen St. Germain (Pierre Part), vice-chair of the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus, lent her name to the campaign's criticism of Vitter. "After years of dodging questions about scandals, it's time for David Vitter to come clean," St. Germain said in a statement released by the campaign. "Why did he protect Brent Furer, and what does Furer know about Vitter?"

Melancon also tried to capitalize on the situation to raise money for his campaigns, asking for contributions from anyone who is "as sickened as I am by Vitter's continuing disrespect of women."

Vitter has attempted to blunt the attacks, organizing a Women in Business Roundtable in Baton Rouge Tuesday, and telling local reporters that Furer's resignation had, in his mind, resolved the matter.

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