Allegations Versus the Law

PORTLAND, Ore. – It’s never good to start off any post with a disclaimer, but here we go: Sexual harassment, sexual assault, or any mistreatment of a fellow human being is completely and inarguably wrong. That having been said, let me get to the point of this blog entry.

We live in the United States of America. We have plenty of faults, but our founding fathers saw fit to adopt a legal system that was based on the principals of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In recent weeks we have seen people fired, book deals and movies canceled, and production on shows suspended, based on allegations of inappropriate behavior. Some of them date back decades. Now, again, this is not to de-legitimize or belittle those stories. But it does bear mentioning that Netflix’s decision to suspend production of ‘House of Cards’ doesn’t just impact Kevin Spacey. It potentially impacts hundreds of people whose livelihoods depend on that show. Same with any number of other projects that have been suspended or canceled due to recent allegations.

So my question is this: Where does the line fall? Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, etc. all face a long list of accusers. In some cases well over 100. While none of them have been convicted of any crime, there’s so much circumstantial evidence we, as a society, tend to accept that they should face backlash and punishment. Their employers certainly understood that standing behind them while those allegations swirled could damage their bottom line, making them more of a liability than it was worth. But if we’re talking about a teacher, a CEO, or anyone in a place of power with a lot to lose, should they face the same level of backlash on the back of a single accuser? How about two, or three? Where do we draw that line when it comes to someone facing consequences that can leave them jobless, friendless, or worse?

I’ll be very curious to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

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