The ex-president of the nation’s leading libertarian youth organization has been charged with raping and drugging a college student while attending the University of Pittsburgh, allegedly rendering her unconscious by spiking her drink with a roofie.
The bombshell allegations follow a wave of other students coming forward last year with similar stories, claiming online that they’d been sexually assaulted by Cliff C. Maloney, Jr., a right-wing darling with ties to high-profile Republicans including Rand Paul and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Police began investigating the allegations on Jan. 20, 2021, when a former student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where Maloney founded the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, claimed the now 30-year-old had drugged and raped her at a frat party nearly a decade ago.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast, the woman told cops she was hanging out in a friend’s dorm room the night of Sept. 28, 2013, when she and another student decided to attend an event at the Sigma Tau fraternity.
“When I asked [the woman] how she was feeling, she said she was fine, not intoxicated, and wanted to go out and dance,” Det. Michelle McDaniel wrote in the complaint.
(The Daily Beast has redacted the filing throughout and is withholding the woman’s name, as she is the victim of an alleged sexual assault.)
The woman and her friend arrived at Sigma Tau around 10 p.m., she told police. Her friend left after about an hour, but the woman wasn’t ready to go home yet, the complaint states. She went upstairs and sat down on a couch in a common area, where, after chatting with a dentistry student who had already graduated, the woman was approached by Maloney.
She told detectives she was familiar with Maloney, who was 22 at the time, because they had crossed paths at two different parties earlier in the semester, dancing and sharing beers. Maloney asked her if she had plans later that evening and invited her over to his place for Champagne.
“She looked at him strange and he said, ‘I am not going to do something,’” states the complaint. “She agreed since she knew him prior and thought he was safe, as he was a Resident Director (RD). At this point, she said it was about 12:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.”
The two of them walked back to Maloney’s dorm room, encountering “a few unknown males in front of the Delta Chi Fraternity, having an altercation,” according to the complaint. Maloney stepped in and deescalated the situation, and the two continued on.
When they got to Maloney’s second-floor room, she sat down on the end of his bed. Moments later, the complaint alleges, Maloney “came out of the bathroom holding two drinks…in long-stem Champagne glasses,” it says. As she took a sip, Maloney pushed up on the bottom of the woman’s glass and told her to “drink up.” She “thought this was strange,” according to the complaint.
That’s when things allegedly took a turn for the worse.
The woman soon began feeling “dizzy, foggy, and unable to focus,” the complaint states. Maloney then gently pushed the woman down onto the bed, and she says she thought to herself, “I was drugged, given a roofy [sic].”
Suddenly, Maloney grabbed her, pulled her to the edge of the bed, and “began performing oral sex on her,” according to the complaint.
“[The woman] remembered hearing her pants hit the floor and she was thinking, ‘Oh my god this is going to happen and I cannot stop it,’” the complaint continues.
Maloney then moved her up to the top of the bed, it says. The last thing the woman remembered before she passed out was seeing the ceiling. She regained consciousness briefly at one point, and told police she realized then that Maloney was raping her, according to the complaint. But she felt unable to move or speak and blacked out again, she said.
“Upon waking up, [the woman] realized it was morning, light outside, and she was completely naked in his bed,” the complaint states, noting that Maloney was completely clothed. “To avoid waking him up and exit the room as fast as possible, [the woman] put her shoes on in the elevator on the way to her dorm,” then showered as soon as she got there.
Later that day, while at the student union getting something to eat, the woman spotted Maloney walking in and “froze,” she told cops. A friend she was with noticed something was wrong, and asked what was happening. The woman then took her friend out into the hall and told her about the alleged rape.
Roughly a month later, Maloney messaged the woman on Facebook.
“Yo,” he wrote.
When the woman told him she was extremely upset by what had happened, Maloney allegedly responded, “Thought we both had fun,” and asked if she wanted to go out with him the next night.
“YOU FUCKIN DID SHIT WHEN I WAS PASSED OUT!!!” the woman wrote back. “I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT!! I DIDN’T GIVE YOU ANY SIGNS THAT I WAS AWARE. Stop playing stupid.”
Maloney feigned innocence, apologized, and asked why she hadn’t mentioned anything before—to which the woman replied, “Why the fuck do you think I would talk to you,” according to the complaint.
About two weeks before Christmas 2013, Maloney bumped into the woman at a mutual friend’s apartment and asked if she was “still mad” at him, the complaint states.
Maloney allegedly said he wanted to make amends, and asked the woman if she wanted a beer. She ignored him, and he walked away.
Fifteen minutes later, Maloney walked back into the room holding a pink plastic cup filled with beer and handed it to one of the woman’s friends. At that point, a male student who lived in the apartment stepped in and said, “I wouldn’t drink that if I were you,” according to the complaint. “He’s known for slipping things in drinks.”
The woman then left the apartment and never spoke to Maloney again. In February 2014, he reached out to her in an attempt to reconnect.
“Yo,” Maloney wrote.
She ignored him.
Eight years later, Maloney is facing felony rape charges.
Maloney’s lawyer, Peter Kratsa, told The Daily Beast on Thursday afternoon, “Mr. Maloney denies these historical allegations. They are false. Of course, under our justice system he is presumed innocent. We look forward to establishing a vigorous defense before a jury of his peers.”
The victim didn’t respond to The Daily Beast’s inquiries. A YAL spokesperson told The Daily Beast, “We too are troubled by the news, and will not comment further during an ongoing criminal investigation.”
In recent years, allegations of Maloney’s wrongdoing have engulfed the organization he led for nearly five years as president.
In January 2021, former YAL members came forward on Twitter, using the hashtag #YALtoo to speak out against the then-president of the libertarian student activist organization.
“Ah, Cliff Maloney Jr. He fancies himself the godfather of the liberty movement, but instead of sending people to kneecap the goons who assaulted your daughter, he’ll promote the goons – and maybe help them run for office,” one student wrote at the time.
Another student who was part of the national libertarian campus organization wrote on Twitter that Maloney asked her to “get in bed with him.”
Maloney responded on Twitter: “100 percent false.”
After the students came forward on Twitter, the organization pledged to change.
“YAL will address these issues head-on and begin the process of healing and rebuilding a culture of trust, safety, and accountability,” its statement said in part.
When his employment was terminated by YAL’s board of directors, Maloney started the political consulting firm “Mobilize the Message.” In 2020, according to FEC records, his firm provided its services to the political campaigns of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC). Maloney has also worked as a youth director for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Maloney was arraigned Tuesday on one charge of rape of a substantially impaired person, one charge of rape of an unconscious victim, and two counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was released on $200,000 bail, and is due back in court on May 11.