Who says a woman is to be believed just simply because she makes an accusation?

Anyone, male or female, who says they have been victimized deserves to be heard. However, the burden of proof still lies with the accuser, and the presumption of innocence remains the foundation of our judicial system for the protection of the accused. To assume someone is guilty based solely on the word of an individual who can offer no proof or evidence to support that allegation is un-American.

Women who were accused of practicing witchcraft and black men perceived to have shown disrespect to whites were unfairly put to death in this country without the benefit of a trial or any sort of due process. To assume that a man is guilty of sexual assault just on the word of his accuser is equally unjust.

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The ugly debate over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court reminds us that women have been reluctant to come forward to report sexual victimization for fear that they might not be believed. We must do better. It is also a reminder of why our Constitution offers protections for the accused.

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As difficult as it may have been for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to file a report in 1982 when she says she was victimized, it would have given police an opportunity to collect evidence and witness statements. Because no evidence and witness statements were collected and no police report was filed, it is impossible 36 years later to prove any wrongdoing on the part of Judge Kavanaugh.

Christine Blasey Ford has every right to be heard, but so does Brett Kavanaugh. Absent any evidence to the contrary, Kavanaugh's presumption of innocence must be defended.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.