During the past month we’ve seen more media reports of sexual assault than in the past few years. It appears that the Harvey Weinstein saga opened up a plethora of vivid memories in the minds of hundreds of women. As soon as the expose’ in the New York Times got published, those women suddenly recalled how horrible their lives had become because of what the homely Hollywood reprobate had done to them years ago. In some cases, decades ago! If we’re to be honest about this, we must wonder why they waited so long to tell the world that they were either raped, or touched “inappropriately” by the beastlike Tinseltown mogul.
It didn’t take long before other men were accused of something that, before the NYT’s article, must have been hidden deep inside their subconscious, waiting for the right moment to burst forth with bitter indignation. Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was accused of some sort of “sexual advance” with a 14 year-old in 1986, when Spacey was 25. The 14 year-old, who is now 45, must have had a mental block for the past 31 years, which became unblocked after he saw the publicity being given to the other “victims.” Spacey, as soon as the claim was made against him, suddenly realized that he must proclaim his gayness to the world. The obvious attempt to get sympathy and cover from the gay community backfired when it was pointed out that Spacey’s behavior was erroneously connecting gayness with pedophilia.
Not to be outdone by the Hollywood hedonists, porn movie actresses took to the airwaves to give accounts of their sexual misfortunes. One woman, who had made several full-length videos with one of the studs in triple-x dramas, stated that he had touched her (here comes that word again) “inappropriately” during a private encounter, i.e., a date outside of the job. Keep in mind, these women strip naked and have the most ribald sexual relations imaginable with numerous men in front of movie cameras, producers, directors and staff. Their on-screen partners get to know them intimately during, and in many cases, after the filming concludes. (Yes, they do participate in auditions and rehearsals.) Hence, one wonders what could those men do to them that they’d consider out of line, or the “I” word?
What’s next? Will we soon be hearing that prostitutes are suing Johns for touching them in places that weren’t included in the original contract made when the women leaned over the car window to talk business? The great comic Groucho Marx once said, “Everybody wants to get into the act.” The problem with these recent, highly publicized “acts” is that they trivialize the serious complaints of rape and sexual harassment that women face every day in this country. Used to be, when a woman was abused she’d report the crime immediately, giving authorities the evidence to arrest the bum and present a credible case in court. However, when a complainant waits so long that confirmation of the charges is highly unlikely, it causes people to wonder if the woman has a motive other than justice.
When the statute of limitations has expired, criminal penalties, and the majority of civil suits are not enforceable. Therefore, the most that can happen to the violator is public shame. In some of those cases the defendant, usually a well-known figure, will settle out of court to spare him the embarrassment of becoming the lead story on the nightly news. Consequently, when a famous actor, a corporate tycoon, or someone else with fame and fortune is targeted by a former associate, paramour, or would-be friend, of either gender, a cash settlement is the intended outcome. It’s been said that money and power are strong aphrodisiacs.
So, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that famous people generally don’t have too much difficulty being popular with the opposite, or same, sex. And it doesn’t matter if you look like Weinstein or the Hunchback of Notre Dame; there will always be some who will do whatever it takes to become a member of that exclusive club in the rarefied world of the glitterati. What happens when someone compromises his/her principles for a starring role that never occurs? Does he/she harbor resentment for half a lifetime, waiting for a chance to be in the news again and get back at the creep who reneged on the deal?
Once again, this doesn’t help the real victims of abuse because their claims may fall on ears that have become inured to such accusations. Moreover, if victims wait years to identify a serial abuser, how many other victims will be preyed upon during the interval? Sadly, we haven’t heard the last of these scandalous episodes. Let’s just hope it makes victims aware of the critical role they play in bringing their abusers to justice in a period of time that adds credibility to their cases.
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human”.