Allegations and the Presumption of Innocence
No one should be subjected to sexual harassment or abuse. The level of disrespect that sexual harassment and/or abuse demonstrate toward the victim should never be found in our society. We cannot avoid the fact, however, that it seems to be more prevalent than we would like to admit. Or is it?
The truth is that we just do not know. What started with Harvey Weinstein and has continued with many others, including Roy Moore, has demonstrated two disturbing trends. One is obvious; the other one may not be.
The Allegations against Weinstein and Moore:
While sexual harassment and abuse have been around for all of time, this “cultural moment,” according to Susan Davis of NPR, in which women are coming forward more and more with their allegations reached a tipping point with Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is facing allegations that date back all the way to the 1970s.
The statute of limitations keeps many of the oldest allegations from the ability of prosecution. The New York Police Department, however, is investigating what it can. Some allegations over the years never became public because settlements were privately reached – eight of them, according to CNN.
Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the open Senate seat from Alabama, is now facing nine separate allegations of unwanted sexual advances, most of which date back many years. The unusual age difference between Moore and many of these women – he was in his 30s and the women were in their teens – has added to the public outcry.
The Results of the Allegations:
Once the allegations began to pile up against Weinstein, it was obvious that his career in the movie industry was over. He has been fired from his own film company while he awaits the completion of the NYPD investigation.
Moore is still running for the Alabama Senate seat, but he is facing mounting pressure to drop out of the race. He has stayed defiant, even though Senate Republicans and others on Capitol Hill seem to want nothing to do with him. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, even came out against Moore, saying “I believe the women.” While Moore has not yet resigned, he is behind in the polls in a state that is solidly Republican during normal elections.
The Danger of Allegations:
It is important to note that Weinstein is still denying all allegations of non-consensual sex. Furthermore, the police investigation into the allegations against him is still ongoing. Roy Moore is holding a strong line against the allegations against him as well. He has not admitted to any sexual wrongdoing and is attempting a strong counterattack to many of the allegations against him.
This is where a delicate balance must be struck. If any woman making these allegations against Weinstein, Moore, Spacey, Franken, or any others was, indeed, abused or harassed, they deserve justice. There is a process for this to be proven in a court of law.
This seems to be forgotten, which makes allegations very dangerous. Society is in a place where allegations alone can destroy people’s lives, careers, and reputations. This is why the presumption of innocence is so important in our system of justice. Even in civil cases, where it doesn't necessarily apply, the principle remains. After all, "[t]he one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him."
But what about the victims? Shouldn't they have our support? Of course, but until we know the facts, it is often unclear as to who the victim is. In the case of Roy Moore for example, if the women are outright lying about him, just to ruin his career, then he is the victim. But, on the other hand, if these women are telling the truth, then they are the victims.
Victims are out there, but let's make sure we know who they are.
The Number of Allegations:
Granted, the number of allegations against Weinstein and Moore are daunting. The specificity of many of them is believable. Guilt, however, and the devastating consequences that come with it, cannot be determined during any press conference.
NPR helped to prove this point. When discussing the allegations against Al Franken, Susan Davis of NPR, who was quoted above, made a disturbing statement. She admitted that Franken may be able to keep his Senate seat because only one woman, at the time of this writing, has come out with an allegation.
In other words, Weinstein and Moore are seen as guilty because enough people came out against them. Is this really where we want the scales of justice? Is this really how we want the presumption of innocence to become a presumption of guilt? If this is the standard now, isn’t anyone in danger of similar allegations?
The answer is, of course, yes. We are all in danger of guilt.
If you are facing allegations of a similar nature, you need an experienced defense attorney by your side. If this is you, call or e-mail today for a free consultation.
Case Results Disclaimer:
Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. The outcome of every case will depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and case results depicted here do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
Attorney/Client Relationship Disclaimer:
This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
Blog Content Disclaimer:
The blog posts contained on this website were written, in part, by a non-lawyer employee of Jordan B. Davies. However, each post has been carefully reviewed and edited by Jordan B. Davies to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.