A Democrat in New York looking to challenge the party's incumbent reportedly wrote "creepy" comments on social media in 2012 about his meeting with gold-medal gymnast McKayla Maroney when she was 16 years old.
Suraj Patel is a hotel executive trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the New York primary. He posted a series of comments on Facebook appearing to show his fondness to Maroney, who was 16 at the time, The New York Post reported.
“I told her she should come to New York because we have a top shop there on Broadway, haha, that may have crossed the creepy line by a little,” Patel reportedly wrote to a girlfriend on Facebook in August 2012. He reportedly captioned the picture with, “We went to Top Shop. I bought a promise ring. Then they tried to arrest me.”
“If this happens with McKayla Maroney … you can’t fault me, you know? Sorry … you knew the deal,” he added.
Maroney has been in the news recently after she testified about being sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar. The disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting young female athletes and was sentenced in January to 40 to 175 years in prison.
Patel’s comments reportedly prompted a response from the friend, who wrote: “She’s only 16!”
Patel also reportedly said Maroney was “so jacked, btw” in a separate Facebook post.
In another unearthed social media post in 2010, Patel defended actor John Stamos, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, according to The Post. “Dude, she was 17 — that’s not that bad. Have mercy!” the aspiring Congressman said at the time.
Patel’s campaign dismissed the comments as out-of-context private jokes, adding that the comment about Stamos was merely a reference to his catch phrase from “Full House.”
“He’s an outspoken supporter of the national dialogue we are having about sexual abuse and harassment,” Lis Smith, the campaign spokeswoman, told The Post. “These efforts to tie years-old comments to it do a great disservice to women. Dredging up one-off old social media posts is a typical establishment politician’s way to discredit newcomers.”
Maloney’s campaign, in response to The Post’s report, said, “[Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s] record of empowering women and girls speaks for itself.”