Five years after the #MeToo movement exposed pervasive sexual harassment and abuse politics, show business and many other industries, cases unfolding in California courtrooms show how difficult it is for women to bring allegations against powerful men. They experience verbal abuse, battle shame, and face the fear of retribution.
California’s first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker who was an aspiring actress in the early 2000s, shows remarkable courage by attending the Los Angeles rape trial of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, accused of assault by eight women. his defender described Siebel Newsom in court Monday as “Bimbo” who traded sex for career advancement in Hollywood. And that was just on the opening day of the trial. The insults and innuendo are likely to get even nastier when Siebel Newsom takes a stand in the coming weeks.
With four children aged 6 to 13 and husband Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for re-election, it would be understandable if Siebel Newsom concealed the details of her 18-year rape allegation from the public by refusing to attend Weinstein’s trial. Nothing requires her to relive the nightmare on the witness stand. Her family life would no doubt be easier if she buried the memories and kept quiet.
But Siebel Newsom has agreed to testify, and that is a commendable act of courage. She makes personal sacrifices in the pursuit of justice and to protect other women from similar abuse.
In another Hollywood rape trial ongoing in Los Angeles, a woman who accused actor Danny Masterson of raping her in 2003 while threatening her with a gun described fears that reporting the incident to police would her family and her from the Scientology religion would belong to Masterson. “My life would be over,” she said in court. “My parents would have to separate from me.”
Meanwhile, shows a settlement in a Sacramento case involving a former congressman who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women Limits of Confidential Reporting. Even if victims believe they are speaking confidentially during a workplace investigation, that privacy can be exposed in a court proceeding.
In the case of former Congressman Matt Dababneh, a San Fernando Valley Democrat, a judge ruled in 2020 that he had a right to know the identities of 52 witnesses who spoke in confidence to investigators investigating an allegation that he had trapped a woman in a bathroom and made her watch him masturbate. Following the judge’s decision, the congregation settled Dababneh’s lawsuit by giving him the list of names, which essentially revealed the identities of the witnesses but spared them from further disclosures that might have come out had the case gone to trial.
“That’s why a lot of survivors don’t come forward,” one of the witnesses told Times reporters Taryn Luna and Hannah Wiley. She thought about her interview with investigators Claiming Dababneh offered her a raise to convince a college student to sleep with him would be treated confidentially.
Advocates are rightly concerned that the revelation will have a chilling effect on those willing to report future sexual misconduct in the Capitol.
Legislators have recognized the need improve the system they have in place Workplace misconduct investigations in response to the #MeToo movement. The settlement of Dababneh’s lawsuit makes it clear that the changes must include ensuring that people who speak to investigators are aware of the circumstances under which their confidentiality could be breached.
The shame and fear people experience when they make allegations of sexual abuse public has silenced many of them for so long and allowed powerful offenders to get away with their crimes. The #MeToo movement has made strides in changing culture by giving some women opportunities to speak out. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-10-27/editorial-recent-fallout-from-metoo-movement-shows-victims-bravery Editorial: Court cases following #MeToo movement show victims’ bravery in describing abuse