To turn on the news this year has revealed a seemingly endless parade of sexual predators – actors, comedians, producers, directors, politicians and executives. Women and men have come forward to accuse people in positions of power of groping, harassing, threatening and raping them. While some of the predatory behavior has been recent, many victims have waited decades before going public. Does this make their accusations unbelievable?
There is a double standard. Men accusing priests of molesting them as boys were considered credible witnesses, but the complaints of women pointing their fingers at powerful men are discounted if they do not come forward immediately. The same thing happens in police stations when women claim to have been raped days or weeks previously. The victim is immediately put on trial by the police and prosecutors. They have to prove that they were of impeccable character and were not attractively dressed.
The prey of a sexual predator is, by definition, someone unable to defend himself or herself. They are unlikely to go public with their accusations because they know they will be ridiculed and further shamed and stigmatized. They may tell a trusted friend or family member, but they will not want to bring charges. Years pass and the hurt festers, but they remain powerless until someone breaks the silence. That gives them the feeling that they may be heard. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the sexual predator is still too powerful and their victims are blamed, once again.
The passage of time does not erase sexual harassment. It is wrong and the offender should wear it, whether it happened last week or in the Eisenhower Administration. The fact that it cannot be prosecuted does not make the perpetrator any less culpable. Accusations of this nature should be evaluated fairly whether or not the victim was too traumatized and threatened to come forward soon after the offense.
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2017 John B. Payne, Attorney