What Matt Lauer did is criminally liable. Matt Lauer, basically raped a woman in his office. Asking someone to take off their pants and having sex with them under the fear of reprisal if she says no is criminally liable sexual assault. Apparently during the episode she passed out and Lauer called for a nurse.
Sexual harassment is a form of prohibited harassment. It is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
1. Submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment.
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions.
3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
4. This definition also encompasses unwelcome display or communication of sexually offensive materials.
Matt Lauer did this too. Yet, in the case of the above mentioned woman, what he did crosses over from harassment to assault.
Sexual assault is is intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy and other unwanted indecent contact (e.g., kissing against another person’s will) that is aggravated, abusive or wrongful (to include unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact), or attempts to commit these acts.
The important phrases here are “abuse of authority’ and “cannot consent”.
It will be interesting to see if criminal charges are filed against him.
All the touching and groping that Weinstein did, the rape perpetrated by Kevin Spacey, indecent exposure by both Louis C.K. and Weinstein, not to mention others on the list: Trump, O’Reilly, Moore, Franken, Conyers, Geillor, Rose, etc, are all criminal offenses. And it’s time to find them criminally liable.
Kudos to the corporations and businesses that have fired these men. It’s appropriate for them to lose their jobs, as most corporations have a zero tolerance for sexual harassment. It’s also appropriate in the case of celebrites to lose their jobs without pay, due to morality clauses. But it’s also appropriate for these men to be charged criminally.
Kudos to the women who have come forward to tell their stories, to stand their ground, and to literally shift the world as we know it. Sexual harassment suits and sexual assault trials do happen, but in so many cases – as we have learned from the Me Too hashtag – don’t get reported. I hope these women remain strong and move forward into the courts and bring themselves justice. Justice for them but also the other women who may not have stepped forward.
It’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to come forward to a company where you work and accuse a colleague. On top of that many of these colleagues that are being accused are in positions of power. Many of the people hearing the tale have a first inclination to not believe. Following that, there is the fear of reprisals, not just from the company where you work, but should you leave that company there is the fear that as an accuser, some other company may not wish to hire you. There is also the fear that your information will not be kept confidential and the next thing you know, you’re on the news and fielding offers of interviews from reporters. That’s a very big uphill battle.
And to take that next step to go into court isn’t just a big uphill battle, it’s a tall mountain. Your every move past and present will be scrutinized. The media frenzy will intensify. People will argue on air and over water coolers, on whether your story is true, whether the charges should be dropped, or if you’re doing it for a book deal. And all of that is before you even sit before a judge and jury. I know it’s a lot to ask. I know it’s a path I did not choose. But when my incidents happened it was a different time.
As a woman who has been sexually harassed all her life, and one who has several times been sexually assaulted, I hope these women take the next step. Media stories eventually die down. Matt Lauer will be replaced with a new anchor. Hollywood will find new actors and comedians. And there is always another politician right around the corner. But a court case makes a permanent record. Court cases are cited in future court cases. Court cases turn public opinion into law.
Right now, as weird as it is to say this sentence, it’s a good time for women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted. Good because stories are being told. The tide has turned. Men are being held responsible in business and in public opinion. Let’s ride that wave and make some law. The laws are on the books, but lets add some cases to the list. Lets make a permanent record that sexual harassment and sexual assault is not tolerated in jobs, in homes, and in the courts. Let’s have so many cases on the books that the next generation doesn’t even think twice about speaking up and speaking out.