I saw this headline on the internet and couldn’t resist. Another outgoing Hollywood executive accused of sexual harassment, Les Moonves of CBS, is taking the walk of shame. After a couple explosive New York Times articles, Moonves was shown the door with a mere $100 million to cushion the blow.
Poor Les. Tried by the court of public opinion and found guilty. Never even got a court hearing. In reading the comment sections on the news sites, you’d think a huge miscarriage of justice happened.
That got me thinking. What kind of evidence would you have to show to convict someone in a #MeTOO case? Bear in mind, I’m no lawyer and some of you out there are. But, just what would it take to prove guilt?
What about one? Well, maybe that one accuser of Mr. Moonves was a jilted lover. Maybe she merely thought there was a thing between them but not. Sort-of like a Fatal Attraction. OK. I can buy that.
What about two? Maybe this one is a disgruntled ex-employee who was promised a raise and didn’t get it. Possible. I can maybe believe two are making it up.
What about a third? This one was probably a colleague who worked with Moonves and he stole credit for her work. She put in the sweat and he got the glory. Yep, three. Getting to be long odds but still might be viable.
Here comes No. 4. She stored her lunch in the same fridge as Moonves. He grabbed her chicken salad by accident last Thursday and she is hacked. What better move than to accuse him of a grope? We’re up to four now. Getting hard to believe it’s all a conspiracy and these ladies are liars
What about five? And here comes the sixth. Make up whatever story you want but it’s getting tough to make excuses anymore. Why don’t we try doubling it and making it six more, like the New York Times just did?
Without a doubt, a dozen accusations of improper behavior seems like a “preponderance of evidence” to me. It’s mind-boggling to think that there were around 60 accusations in the Cosby scenario.
I’m still at a loss for explaining why this continues to happen. By now, you would think that HR departments throughout industry, and especially entertainment, would have rooted out these guys, exposed them, and shown them the door.
But it has not happened.
I suppose that the rich and powerful are too good at being rich and powerful for change to be really effective. Those who are responsible for policing such behavior are rendered ineffective without a true mandate to clean this up.
Maybe what we need are some outrageous lawsuits to discourage bad behavior? What if CBS was slapped with a lawsuit that asked $10 million per assaultee? By my math, $10 million x 12 victims and CBS is still looking at $120 million. It’s only $20 million more than what they are paying Moonves.
And think of the precedent it would set. Powerful execs would think twice if the price tag was $10 million. Heck, Moonves can pinch me for 10 large.
But, you may ask, how can this behavior be proven? Many of these cases come down to a hazy he-said-she-said. Our justice system would break down if every witness were to be believed at face value. Also, the accused has a constitutional right to be faced by their accuser.
Of course, this is what the abuser counts on. This 1:1 act between two people in private is very difficult to substantiate. Again, there is force in numbers. When multiple women claim to be victims, it shows a pattern of behavior that is most likely true.
But in many of the cases, women are forced to testify in court and are torn to shreds by defense attorneys. Most women remain silent, encouraging more bad behavior and abuse. Who can blame them?
What if we required polygraphs of both parties to be submitted into evidence without forcing a woman to testify? I know — lie detectors can be fooled and we have a constitutional issue. But, an accusation’s veracity must be tested while preventing the witness from becoming the accused.
What if we set a limit of three witnesses/victims as the standard for legitimate evidence? Finding guilt on the word of one or two witnesses in a case like this seems problematic, but it would be more difficult to coordinate the accusations of three or more.
There has to be a way to move forward and begin changing culture. We really need less of those like Les.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and greatly enjoyed stealing this title. Does this make me a plagiarist? Steve can be reached at email@example.com.