Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proved guilty. This long post will take the perspective of victim’s advocate in discussing the issues raised by that case, but ultimately the jury will decide. That being said, I think he’s guilty as hell.
A lot of nonsense is flowing through the internets about the victim’s allegations. Posts dismissing the claims of other women speaking out about past attempted rapes and assaults. It’s a common occurrence that a serial abuser goes unchallenged for decades, and then when the abuser is exposed, witnesses come forward. They are criticized for not speaking out sooner, and sometimes blamed for not helping to stop the abuse. Ignorant people brag about ‘what they would have done’, tough talk being easier than action. This dynamic exists in the politics of bullying and deception, even when sex is not the issue.
Bernie Madoff was beyond reproach, until he was mobbed by betrayed investors. But there were plenty of warning signs, and trusted institutions failed to provide oversight.
A code of silence has traditionally protected politicians who can’t control their sexual impulses. It’s not always a man imposing on a woman.
Conservative writer David Brooks, while talking about dignity in politics disclosed that he had tolerated inappropriate touching from a male politician…
[Brooks] shared an interesting anecdote with Norah O’Donnell and John Harwood.
“You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ‘Ehh, get me out of here.'”
When O’Donnell inquired about Brooks’ dinner companion, the columnist replied, “I’m not telling you; I’m not telling you.”
I find David Brooks annoying, but I don’t judge him for not outing Mr. Friendly. Brooks had a lot to lose if he made a fuss, and more trouble if he made an enemy of a man he needed to deal with in Washington. Maybe Brooks should out him, though. Guys like that often find someone they can really abuse, and they need to be stopped.
This month a church worker lost a court case contesting her firing when she reported a priest she considered a danger to children…
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Jefferson Circuit Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the archdiocese of Louisville.
The lawsuit filed by Gary and Margie Weiter, of Louisville, alleged the archdiocese violated its own policies on responding to sexual abuse.
Margie Weiter contended a priest who had allegedly been sexually abusive was moving about at the St. Therese Catholic Church in Germantown unsupervised and circulating among children and that she was fired when she complained.
The Weiters also claimed a convicted sex offender, Bruce Ewing, was active in a parish council.
The judge deemed this a Church internal matter, the Weiters may appeal.
Senator Scott Brown disclosed in his recent book that as a child he was sexually abused by a camp counselor. He didn’t name names, but it soon came out that Camp Good News, a religious camp, had problems going back decades. A counselor committed suicide after being accused of abuse.
“There were red flags,” [Mitchell Garabedian, the accuser’s attorney] said. “The questions remain: What did the supervisors know? When did they know? And what did they do it about it?”
A former camp employee, Charles Lewis, told ABC that he notified camp administrators in the late 1990s that Devita had child pornography on his computer, but they did nothing about it. He said he then contacted the police in 2002 and told them the same story, but is unclear what became of the allegations.
Journalist, Tristane Banon, says she fought off an attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2002 when she was 21 years old, and is being harshly criticized for not pressing charges at the time, though she did discuss the attack in an interview in 2007…
Banon consulted a lawyer, but did not press charges. “I didn’t want to be known to the end of my days as the girl who had a problem with the politician.”
Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, told journalists on Sunday night she had dissuaded her daughter from legal action because she believed Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour had been out of character and because of close links with his family. “Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility,” she said.
She said Strauss-Kahn was “an otherwise warm, sympathetic and extremely talented man”, but the attack left her daughter depressed and traumatised. “My daughter, despite the passing years, is still shocked by these facts. Her life was completely upset by this affair and she was depressed for a long time.” She added that it was clear Strauss-Kahn had “difficulty controlling his urges”. She said: “I’m not a doctor or psychiatrist, but there is something violent in this predatory move.”
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Banon further alleges that the story was covered up in the media. She decided not to press charges. Her publisher took out the chapter on Strauss-Kahn from the book for which she had tried to interview him. A segment on another talk show where she mentioned the incident was cut out during editing.
She alleges that another talk show host was pressured to cancel an invitation for her to appear, because the show is live.
Agora Vox quotes Banon, explaining why she decided to not press charges and move on (emphasis ours):
Who is to say half the people I’ll meet won’t believe me? So I told myself I had to live with it. And what would I gain? Money? I don’t want his money. … And there is the fact that I live alone in Paris. … He doesn’t have the most refined methods. … I don’t think he would have had me killed, but possibly roughed up.
She was the god-daughter of his second wife, and he had been physically violent enough to justify her fear.
Arnold Schwartzenegger is in the news, with headlines claiming his reputation has been ruined by the revelation that he impregnated his housekeeper ten years ago. Anyone not suffering from amnesia will ask, ‘what reputation’? The Gropinator’s sense of entitlement with women who were in a subordinate position, his bullying manner– that was part of his charm. The women he grabbed and pushed around just had to live with it. From the L.A. Times..
Four of the six women told their stories on condition that they not be named. Three work in Hollywood and said they were worried that, if they were identified, their careers would be in jeopardy for speaking out against Schwarzenegger, the onetime bodybuilding champion and box-office star who is now the front-runner in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election.
The other unnamed woman said she feared public ridicule and possible damage to her husband’s business.
In the four cases in which the women would not let their names be published, friends or relatives said that the women had told them about the incidents long before Schwarzenegger’s run for governor.
None of the six women who gave their accounts to The Times filed any legal action against him.
ProPublica has more on what happened to women who spoke to a reporter about Schwartzenegger’s gross behavior…
Election Day arrived and Schwarzenegger was elected by a wide margin. The Los Angeles Times was castigated for smearing Schwarzenegger close to the election. Ten thousand readers canceled their subscriptions. I received a string of vicious calls and emails. The women were branded as liars desperate for a share of fame.
One of the women called me in tears. I’d cajoled her into revealing her humiliations — and here was yet another. The voters, like Hollywood, ignored the star’s troubling behavior. I was devastated and angry, too — and guilty for wasting their courage.
Speaking out has a cost. We’re only a few decades past the time when victims of sexual assault carried the secret their whole lives, because no one wanted to be damaged goods. It is the result of years of advocacy that we have better police work, better laws. All the people mentioned above had far more social status than the maid who was assaulted this week.
Where did she find the courage to come forward, when so many others were unable despite having more social power?
My guess is that she came to the US as a refugee from violence, and had few illusions about her place in the world. The only security she had was earned with her own work– the patronage of important people did not figure in to this situation.
Perhaps her attacker would have used some social pressure, charm and deception if she had seemed connected to anyone who could defend her, but she was a black woman from a poor part of the world, so he tried to terrorize her into submission. She fought him off and escaped.
Very important– she was able to go to her supervisor for help, and the supervisor quickly called the police. Look at the above examples and see how rare it is that institutions and the people in them do the right thing. The hotel had established a hotline to report abuse. That suggests that abuse was a problem, but also that there was a policy to protect employees. If she had not found immediate aid, and a fast and competent response from the police, she would have been without recourse like so many others. But now the law is on her side.
If Dominique Strauss-Kahn is found guilty, it will be because of the courage of a quiet and almost invisible woman, who fought her attacker and sought justice, when so many others let crime go unchallenged.
CONSEQUENCES: The press is already outing the victim as a woman living with HIV, in the process of publicizing where she lives. She is not staying in her apartment, and I hope that when this is over she will be able to find a safe place to live and work.