Tech Journalist Accuses Former Senator Of Groping Her Years Ago: 'This Stuff Was Normal'

Boing Boing co-founder Xeni Jardin says Birch Bayh assaulted her in front of two men.

Xeni Jardin, a tech journalist who co-founded the site Boing Boing, said Wednesday that former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) ― an extraordinarily popular progressive who co-authored the gender-equity law Title IX ― groped her during a meeting when she was in her 20s.

Jardin, 43, in a series of tweets, said the former senator, now 88, assaulted her in a car “a long, long time ago” in front of two men she worked with. 

Neither Bayh nor Jardin immediately responded to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment. 

Bayh, who served from 1963 to 1981, introduced Title IX in the 1970s. The law, which guarantees equal rights for women on college campuses, has been called “one of the most important legal tools that victims of campus sexual assault have to seek justice” by Vox

Bayh’s son is Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat who announced Wednesday he’ll run for Senate. Evan Bayh also is a former senator. He retired in 2010 after two terms and became a corporate lobbyist.

Jardin said she’d never met Evan Bayh and her decision to come forward about what happened wasn’t related to his campaign announcement. It had “just been a while since I’ve thought of that car ride,” she said.

Women have long said tech can be a hostile environment, and some headlines have warned they’re leaving the industry “in droves.” Several prominent employees of Silicon Valley companies, including former Reddit executive Ellen Pao, have made public moves to track diversity efforts in the field (or lack thereof).

A survey released in January found about 60 percent of women in Silicon Valley said they experienced sexual harassment. Nearly 90 percent said they’d witnessed sexist behavior at company events offsite or during industry conferences.

Jardin noted that incidents of sexism, at the time of her encounter with Bayh, were “normal and happened everywhere all the time.”

“It just seemed like standard work hazards,” she wrote. “Just want y’all to know.”

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous headline on this article incorrectly indicated that Birch Bayh was a senator when the alleged incident occurred.