Mero Moment: Total justice can be elusive in harassment and abuse cases

Image elements from pixabay, St. George News

OPINION — Where do we go from here now that Roy Moore has been given a justifiably ignominious political burial and the sexual harassment genie is out of the bottle for good? How long will the victims of harassment and abuse continue to come out of the shadows? The stream must be endless. How much harassment and abuse do you think exists in America today? My guess is a lot.

But, as usual, I am more interested in the tougher questions surrounding these atrocities and controversies. For instance, frankly, I do not know how much longer these accusations will last. While I believe that harassment and abuse are rampant today, I am not so sure about the desire of every victim to go public. We see so many Hollywood stars, each of whom has their story of harassment and abuse. Naturally, they get a lot of attention. They are in the attention business.

But what about the girl down the street whose “uncle” has his way with her? What about the grandmother who, as a young woman, was denied a job or equal pay after failing to subject herself to some humiliating situation with an employer? And what about “dirty old men?” You know, the kind of elderly fellow who seems to have no physical boundaries. Should we expose them (no pun intended)? My wife had an elderly but handsy male relative who never failed to touch her inappropriately. Should we try to correct the family historic record and besmirch his name?

Where do we draw the line? Fact is, everyone in my wife’s family knew, perfectly well, what this elderly relative did around his teenage nieces. Evidently, that was enough for her family – everyone knew and everyone would uncomfortably excuse him, and the girls learned not to go near him. How is that different than our aged President Bush who seems to be in the tush-grabbing business these days? It is kind of understood such things will happen. But is that understanding just an excuse to otherwise protect the good name of people or are they moral failures among us personally and throughout society?

Here is another difficult consideration: What about the perpetrator? Are these men irredeemable? How does forgiveness apply to them? Certainly, forgiveness must apply somehow because we know there are cases of harassment and abuse that do not get reported. Surely, every failure to report cannot be just because of the shame of it all. Surely, one human being has, at some point in time, forgiven another. Even so, we do have laws to abide. Is a victim breaking the law, de facto, by not reporting an abuse?

Many of these reports are allegations. Do we still believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty? It doesn’t seem so and perhaps we now have a new standard profession-wide to handle such things. Perhaps so much of America now involves a monetary transaction that corporate image, not the actual crime, is all that counts. Has this new corporate ethic replaced genuine justice?

But this new ethic being applied to politicians, corporate leaders, Hollywood moguls and celebrities does not seem to apply to the average girl-next-door case of harassment or abuse. Those dire and traumatic situations are forced to drag out in a court of law. How do we fire a father or an uncle or a neighbor boy or just a bully? We don’t. These are the cases that involve evidence of a crime. These are the cases that test our moral and legal processes.

In the rush of public relations, a new ethic seems to be governing these celebrity cases. Meanwhile, the girl-next-door is required to slog her way through the justice system on top of her deep human emotions. The ending to so many of these stories is not always that the bad guy goes to jail and the victim finally sees justice served. The victim is a child of God but so too is the perpetrator and the victim is often the first person to see that. For the very reason that every aspect of these cases is sad, we should not rush toward a one-size-fits-all answer to any of it.

I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

Paul Mero is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: paul.mero@nextgenfreedomfund.org

Twitter: @STGnews

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37 Comments

  • bikeandfish December 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you for consistently writing thoughtful, compassionate essays. I don’t have to agree with all your ideas to recognize we need more of this in our political dialog.

    Our country has an unfortunate history with justice for sexual crimes. This is going to be a long journey.

  • commonsense December 15, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    I don’t believe sexual harassment is rampant. I worked in an office of men and women for 30 years. Not once did I witness or hear about inappropriate sexual interactions and I was the boss so I would have known.

    It seems many of these charges come up when the victim is fired or rejected by a suitor. Retribution or payback is often the motive. Some times it’s years after the aledged event occurred and no one else can recall even hearing about it.

    One Trump accuser said that she was just sitting on a couch when Mr Trump reached his hand up her dress with no prior conversation or interaction. This seems foreign to my reality experience. Not saying it couldn’t happen but it’s just not compatible with my life experience.

    Beautiful women have testified that they have never been sexually assaulted, maybe flirted with but no aggressive behavior which made them uncomfortable and yet these homely women claim they were touched inappropriately by famous men with no encouragement or complicity.

    One thing is certain, making a claim of sexual battery will change the life of the accused forever.
    It’s tough to defend your virtue against a vindictive accuser or one who received compensation for her testimony.

    • bikeandfish December 16, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      First off, being sexually assaulted changes your life dramatically the moment it happens. And for many people the same is true for sexual harrassment. False accusations average about 3%, which means an educated response to these accusations is that more than 90% are true in content.
      Why not trust the victims in that case? Why not consider the implications of that reality.

      Its not shocking that most men aren’t aware of the scale of sexual crimes in this country given they are largely acted upon women. We also have a horrid history of prosecuting such criminals. This had created a rational hesistancy to confide in men, whether in the workplace or home. Silence and/or very discriminate revelation if such violence is often the most physically and psychologically safe option for victims. The initial trauma is scarring enough; retraumization is exponentially more so. This is why many victims often wait fo safe moments like this or whisper networks to protect others.

      The simple fact is it takes men who don’t know or ones who are willing to be complicit for these predators to exist in society. That means predators need positive character witnesses and communities in which they “pass” as healthy citizens. They intentionally prey in environments like the ones you describe where people have no clue what is going on (or where its difficult to search them out or fire them). The fact that many people may never see or experience sexual crimes can naturally coexist in the same places in which women are regularly assaulted.

      Your comments about the physical attractiveness of victims is just one example of the real life difficulty women have always faced in bringing attention to these crimes. It has no bearing on reality beyond your own choices.

      More than 20 women have come forward with allegations against Trump.

      • John December 16, 2017 at 6:32 pm

        Women’s rights lawyer Lisa Bloom sought paydays for women willing to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct at the tail end of the 2016 presidential race, according to an explosive report.

        Bloom offered to sell alleged victims’ stories to TV outlets—and arrange compensation from donors for those who came forward with allegations against President Trump, The Hill reported Friday, citing documents, emails and text messages between Bloom and the women.

        She arranged for a donor to pay off one Trump accuser’s mortgage, and offered as much as $750,000 to another woman, who ultimately decided not to come forward, according to the report.

        Bloom acknowledged pursuing donations for women who made accusations against Trump before last year’s election.

        • bikeandfish December 17, 2017 at 12:23 am

          Your point isn’t clear. Are you making a specific statement? If so, be assertive as the article doesn’t necessarily relate to the issue beyond the negotiations a lawyer makes for high profile clients.

          I actually think The Hill has developed a respectable reputation for journalism (their opinion page is a little different). As such, I find it telling you left out this tidbit from that story; “Bloom said her goal in securing money was not to pressure the women to come forward, but rather to help them relocate or arrange security if they felt unsafe during the waning days of a vitriolic election. She declined to identify any of the donors.” I may not agree with everything lawyer do for their clients but she seems to be forthright in the article.

          • John December 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

            It’s a direct accusation and evidence that all your Trump accusers are tainted and monetarily motivated. Again you take the narrow minded one sided left biased story. you take the wrong side so strongly every time it does nothing but enforce your liberal pompousness.

          • John December 17, 2017 at 10:02 am

            These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory. The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.

        • bikeandfish December 17, 2017 at 11:59 am

          Thats an interesting, though unfounded, conclusion. So 2 women work with a lawyer who tries to get them substantial monetary donations and it means that all 20 are fake allegations?

          And actually, half the accusers the lawyer approached (only 4 of the 20) turned down her incentives. That unequivocally undermines your notion that “that all (your) Trump accusers are tainted and monetarily motivated.”

          Per 2016 vote, clearly Trump won. But even folks on this forum have explained the various reasons they voted for him. You are the first to say its a statement about the veracity of the sexual assault victims allegations.

          Most accounts I have read have been corroborated by witnesses in support of the victim. I would love to see which victims stories have been debunked according to your sources.

          Kristen Anderson: friends corroborate story.

          Cathy Heller: family corroborate.

          Miriah Billado: corroborated by three other teenage contestants that he would walk in on them naked. At least one underage. Consistent with his bragging on Howard Stern. Also consistent with claims from women at other contests.

          The only claim that seems problematic is the odd history of the “Jane Doe” lawsuit that has been dropped.

          Also of note, many of these women only came forward when journalist approached them. No money offered and really only had heartache to gain given harassment they experience from sharing

          • John December 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Wrong again as usual bikeandfish..all frivolous and nobody is really taking any of it seriously anymore except for democrats and anti-Trump know nothing liberals such as yourself. I have said it beforeand I stand by it now, the media has turned it all into a JERRY SPRINGER circus and you are caught up right in the middle of it. Right where they want you to be..hahahahaha! These supposed accusers don’t have enough evidence to get anyone who means anything to pay any attention to them.. it’s a joke ! You take the main stream media bait every time …

          • bikeandfish December 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

            Interesting trend. Every time you are asked to back up your conclusions you resort to petty insults and AM radio-esque talking points. Its almost as if your extravagant opinions are unfounded and mostly about antagonizing anything that isn’t consistent with your narrow worldview.

          • John December 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm

            Your pompousness and total disregard for logic backs my facts up well enough, you do it every time you liberal puppet ! hahaha! bikeandfish :the know-it all who is so open minded her brains have fallen out. I don’t argue with morons, I just point it out !

  • 42214 December 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    After these witch trials have run their course and we move onto the next “Hot” issue, let’s set up a standard. Since these cases are tried in the court of public opinion, let’s have a statute of limitations. Make your accusations within one year of the incident or shut up.

    • bikeandfish December 18, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Just to verify: a woman raped by Weinstein should only have a year to make statements even when he uses lawyers and employs ex-Massad soldiers to bury the story?

      You are trying to prevent a cure for a painful, debilitating disease.

      • John December 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm

        The courts and the law, bikeandfish … Not the media.. If there was a crime it should have been reported to the proper authorities.. use the media first and it’s only gossip! Get over yourself.!

        • bikeandfish December 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm

          Context matters, John, and so does reading comprehension. 42214 mentioned “court of public opinion”, not legal courts.

          • John December 18, 2017 at 10:13 pm

            court of public opinion is GOSSIP… DUH

          • John December 18, 2017 at 10:18 pm

            It’s irrelevant, means nothing… Where’s the beef? No evidence? Only a statement? That’s called hearsay. Slander ! Gossip! Get over yourself bikeandfail , you lose again

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 10:04 am

            These accusations aren’t gossip or slander. Slander is a legal term meaning “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” Legally it requires someone to intentionally make false statements which is often difficult to prove it court.

            Victim accounts are considered evidence, hence their testimony in courts. Its often the only evidence that exists given the nature of the crime. You also don’t understand the definition of “hearsay” as its used for indirect statements, ie ones of individuals without direct knowledge. So yes, we would all be involved in hearsay but the women coming forward are not. It would also only be gossip if we didn’t have these victims accounts, but we do.

            Words matter and have definitions. You may not care about these women’s accounts but the terms you are using are inaccurate and irrelevant.

          • John December 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

            For once you are almost right. Slander is a crime ! That’s exactly what the alleged accusers are doing. They have no evidence, therefore it is hearsay , false allegations , character assassination and most importantly A CRIME ! Too bad anything they are accusing anybody of is far beyond the statute of limitations on these type of things. Amazing that they though of it after being offered money to make up stories. You lose again boredandflunky ! Get over yourself you pompous snowflake !

        • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

          Its amazing how readily you ignore definitions.

          Victim testimony is direct evidence by legal definition. You conflate “physical evidence” with broader evidence.

          Hearsay only matters in a court of law but is explicitly defined by third party observation, ie not the victim’s first hand account.

          First hand allegations are only slander if they can be proven false, hence alibis, etc. Take the allegations by the underage beauty contestants. He would be foolish to sue over slander given his documented statements.

          “I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed,” Trump told Stern. “No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. … ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”. Their accounts match his recorded statements, hence no slander.

          Ironically, Trump is the one being sued for defamation and he’s desperately trying to prevent his own court testimony.

          And at the end of the day we even have testimony under oath from his ex-wife that he raped her. She has since tried to clarify but her sworn deposition is explicit and clear, which she still admits.

          You either lack a fundamental knowledge of law or intentionally misrepresent it. You can choose to nit trust victim accounts, that is your privilege, but that doesn’t undermine the overwhelming # of them, their consistency or veracity of their claims.

          Keep repeating mistruths but just know it doesn’t do anything but reflect on your values and the lengths you’ll go to.

      • 42214 December 18, 2017 at 11:24 pm

        What disease are you talking about? I’m talking about victimization, not disease. Report it, be cooperative with a legitimate investigation and seek civil or criminal recourse. Claiming a dirty joke 20 years ago offended you undermines credible efforts to make change. The good news is so far this fad is clearly claiming more liberal scalps than conservative s. I’m losing faith in my Hollywood and Democratic icons. Next thing someone is going to burst my bubble and say Jane Fonda isn’t a great patriot. I’ll have to take down my Babarella poster.

        • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 9:52 am

          “Disease” is a figurative statement about sexual assault.

          We aren’t focused on “dirty jokes”. The vast majority of these cases involve men actually physically acting, not just talking about it. And not everyone agrees that coming forward after decades undermines credibility. Take Moore. These were teenagers who claim a 30-40 year old local government employee who clearly had power in the community. For Trump, they include teenagers who allege he walked in on them naked while they were competing in competitions he owned.

          If you want these victims to come forward sooner than work to make our legal system more just for them. Elect officials who actually care about victims and definitely not ones who victim shame. Until then, focusing on an artificial statute of limitations for victims coming forward socially actually reinforces the problem.

          • John December 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

            blusterandflail, Sorry but you are wrong again ! It’s not an imaginary statute of limitations. It is long past the due date ! It’s all just slander , gossip and paid fiction. These women should be glad they are not having lawsuits slapped of them for slander. The reason there is not any actual charges against Trump is that filing a false police report is a crime punishable with jail time. When are you going to stop reciting the liberal talking points you get right off of rachel maddow’s website?

          • 42214 December 19, 2017 at 11:37 am

            “Disease is a figurative statement about sexual assault”? You actually believe the crap you spew? If these poor men and some aggressive women are afflicted with a disease that must be their defense. They had no intent, they were driven by disease. Bla Bla Bla.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 12:16 pm

            Its a societal disease that affected our country since inception (just look at how “upstanding” citizens raped their slaves).
            I don’t consider them poor men as they must be accountable for their actions. Even the ones who deal with mental health issues or past trauma themselves, since the abused often become the abusers, they are still accountable.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

            Reading comprehension and context again, John. 42214 is claiming we need to create a statue of limitations on allegations outside court. My response was clearly to that.

          • John December 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm

            blankandfake , Everytime you comment you are reciting the misconceptions portrayed by him (madcow).. Get over yourself you aren’t so smart….and your head is getting a little big.. hahahaha!

        • John December 19, 2017 at 12:37 pm

          You’ll have to forgive blimpandfool, she thinks she is the moral authority of all knowledge, but we all know a liberal blowhard when we hear one. She certainly never lets facts get in the way of her delusions of wanting to be like Madcow!

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 2:16 pm

            You are desperate, aren’t you?

            When have I ever cited Maddow?

            Not a moral authority of knowledge but I do know how to fact check and support my claims. A skill you lack or fail to exhibit with your claims. I have no problem challenging those who publicly spread lies or mistruths, which you have so readily done here.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 4:47 pm

            Who is Madcow, John? I thought you were referencing Rachael Maddow but I guess I was wrong. How odd you keep referencing people I don’t listen to or even know. Its a little delusional to say the least.

            Back to insults, huh? Is it really all you have? Folks who have no facts result to petty insults. As I’ve said before, at least get creative and smart about it. You won’t get a rise out of me but it at least shows you can put some effort into something.

            Unfortunate, you at least took a minute to cite a reputable source this week. You cherry-picked its contents but at least it was a start. At least it displayed a glimmer of logic and ability to do something other than lob meaningless insults.

          • John December 19, 2017 at 7:46 pm

            You know damn well who Madcow is. You copy and paste so much crap from his (hahahahahaha!) website you make everybody laugh ! If you ever had an original rational thought of your own you would discount it as a brain cramp and ignore it and just drink some more of that liberal kool-aid that you consume way too much of ! If you know how to fact check your claims you could do a better job of it. All you ever do is cite more liberal fake news sources. You just recite what the liberal news media tells you the truth is.. nothing more. Sorry but you are beyond help. Get over yourself and I hope you find somebody to spend Christmas with. It must suck to be alone for the holidays because i am sure nobody likes being around you.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 9:41 pm

            No clue who Madcow is but its consistent of you to jump to wrong conclusions. I’ll look him up but I’m guessing its significantly biased since I have never heard them referenced.
            Sounds like another internet personality to stay away from.

            Thanks for the Christmas wishes. Driving to see family with my spouse and then friends visiting from out of state. Throw in some hunting, fishing, black eyed peas for Southern tradition and life is good. But appreciate the care.

            Hope the world brings you back the same tidings you put out, John. You deserve it all tenfold.

  • 42214 December 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Now we’re talking about slave rape 200 years ago? Let’s go back to Henry VIII and Caligula. BandF, change your moniker to Don Quixote cause you’re chasing windmills.

    • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Yes, we are talking about how endemic sexual crime and assault is in this country. Its germane given men like you are trying to restrain the way in which victims can talk about it. Its a cultural problem that has affected our country and its legal structure. Its germane because victim accounts have always been deligitimized and suppressed through history. We saw it with slaves. We saw it with wives until the late twentieth century. We see it with Weinstein and Moore.

      Not tilting at windmills (maybe you shouldn’t use analogies you don’t understand). No time for imaginary enemies when the real problem of sexual assault has been so widespread and obvious.

      Predators have acted with impunity for centuries and now that victims are finally seeing social empowerment you want to contrive a time limit on their revelations? At some point citizens like you are no longer turning a blind eye but engaging in a type of active resistance that is socially complicit.

  • 42214 December 19, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I’ll stick to my analogies that I don’t understand. As for turning a blind eye, I oppose anonymous allegations that refuse the be scrutinized by the bedrock foundation of our justice system and sense of fair play as defined in the 6th ammendment. The right to face and confront your accuser.

    • bikeandfish December 19, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      The vast majority of sexual assault allegations haven’t been anonymous. The 20+ against Trump have voluntarily named themselves. Same for Weinstein. Same for Moore. Spacey. Frankin. The list goes on. One of the benefits of #metoo has been empowering women to come forward when its safe.

      The ideal of our justice system is profound but doesn’t live up to expectations for sexual assault victims. Even we have video evidence, like Brock Turner, you see judges worry about the predator more than justice.

      • John December 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

        Your’e right they weren’t anonymous. They are all fake , made up and bought and paid for. Which is why they are mostly being ignored by anyone who matters. No charges have been filed because creating a false police report is a crime punishable with jail time and a fine. None of these false accusers want to be sued for slander either. That’s why they tried to get attention through the Anti-Trump main stream media where it crashed and burned and backfired big time ….The democrats have turned the whole thing into one big Jerry Springer Show.. Sometimes you have to sit back , drink your beer and see crap for what it really is ! You can’t do that bikeandfish ! In your quest to be the moral authority on all things political you have failed miserably…hahahahahahahaha!!!!!

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