Sexual Harassment Allegations

Rachel Thomas '21

Many women and men, over the last few years, have come forth to expose celebrities guilty of sexual assault. One such accused celebrity is Harvey Weinstein, a renowned film producer. The movie mogul was accused of rape, sexual harassment, assault, and more. He was incriminated by eighty women and sued by over six. Weinstein was expelled from various organizations and was fired from the company he had co-founded.

The number of sexual assault allegations continues to increase, but not everyone is honest about it. For example, in 2006, three Duke University lacrosse players were accused of raping a girl named Crystal Magnum. They were asked to leave the school shortly after. Nearly ten years later, a court found that the boys were innocent and Magnum had falsely accused them of rape. I feel that Magnum’s actions are outrageous. Ruining someone else’s life for your own personal benefit is wrong and is an extremely selfish thing to do. In order to prevent another situation like this from happening again, I believe that, before blaming someone of sexual assault, the victim should have evidence to support his or her story. There is no specific number of allegations or witnesses necessary, but the victim should be able to offer a strong piece of evidence, such as a video or witness.  A sexual allegation can easily ruin the life of a media or athletic star, or even an ordinary person, so I believe that more thought should definitely be exercised in verifying the authenticity of an accusation.

On the flip side, I disagree with the views of many, who claim that the accused sexual harassers receive punishments that are too severe. For example, Kevin Spacey, an actor on the Netflix show “House of Cards,” was charged with the sexual assault of many men, as well as with misconduct with a minor. Spacey was fired from the show and cut from other projects as well. Though some may deem this too harsh, I believe that this is the correct punishment. If the harasser were able to ruin the life of an innocent person, he or she should know how it feels. I understand that it would be wrong to ruin the life of someone who is falsely accused of rape, as was the case in 2006 with the Duke students, but giving those with eighty accusations and substantial evidence a severe punishment is fair. This would also stop high-profile people from taking advantage of others, as victims of such high profile individuals often comply in fear of maintaining their reputations and careers. Harsh, meaningful consequences for perpetrators of these crimes might give their victims more confidence to come forward with allegations.

The fate of the prominent accused rests in the hands of the board of directors above them. But what happens when there is no board of directors? The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has been accused of sexually assaulting several women. However, 30% of the people who were bothered by this fact still voted for the business mogul; he has faced no repercussions for his actions. I feel that whether you are the president or a regular citizen living in Hightstown, you deserve the same rights and the same punishments. Even though Trump won the election, there should have been some action taken to punish him for his misconduct. It is extremely unfair to those who lost everything as a result of a sexual assault to see the face of America remain untouched by the law.

I am glad to know that women and men are finding the courage to speak up about what they suffered. Knowing that people are willing to speak out is a testament to how the people of America will no longer be silenced by those in positions of power.