A Kevin Spacey Update, The Sexual Harassment Feeding Frenzy, And A Guide To Sexual Harassers In The Workplace

This photo seemed appropriate somehow…

Kevin Spacey, it is now fair to say, has been a habitual sexual harasser.

We did not know that when Anthony Rapp made his accusation against the actor in a Buzzfeed interview. I would be very interested in knowing whether Rapp knew that. The posts here (this, and this) began with the assumption that Rapp’s motivations were as he stated them, and he did not say or suggest that Spacey was, like Harvey Weinstein, an active predator.

But in the ensuing days,  the pattern typical of accused harassers who really are harassers has emerged regarding Spacey. Other alleged victims came forward with their accounts.  Next  the employees on Spacey’s hit Netflix series “House of Cards” expanded the narrative…from CNNMoney:

Spacey made the set of Netflix’s “House of Cards” into a “toxic” work environment through a pattern of sexual harassment, eight people who currently work on the show or worked on it in the past tell CNN. One former employee told CNN that Spacey sexually assaulted him.

That, as they say, is the ball game for Spacey. He has even followed the hackneyed script for so many celebrities caught in misconduct: he’s getting “treatment.” Well, he doesn’t have many options. His show has been cancelled; his agency has dropped him. Spacey is very talented, but it will take him a long, long time to even partially recover from this, if he can.

I am going to write this anyway even though it won’t register on most people: the fact that Spacey turned out to be a lot more than a guy who got drunk and treated a 14-year old actor inappropriately at a party three decades ago doesn’t retroactively make the way Rapp’s ambush accusation fair or right. If he knew that Spacey was a present day harasser and made the accusation to break the dam, that’s something else, but again, he didn’t suggest that.

I’d guess that he’ll say that now, whether it is true or not.

Since Spacey was accused, several other celebrities, including Dustin Hoffman, have been fingered. The latest development is that several female members of Congress have said that they have been sexually harassed by their male colleagues, and of that I have no doubts whatsoever. Nonetheless, we are still in the witch hunt yellow zone, creeping into the red.

Here is part of a cautionary LA Times op-ed  by Cathy Young:

The fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandals and the ripples from the “#MeToo” movement are having indubitably positive effects — above all, exposing and bringing to account predators who have enjoyed impunity due to their power and status. But there are some pitfalls. Many people — not just men with skeletons in the closet — fear that careers may be destroyed over minor misconduct and ambiguous transgressions. Troubling rhetoric abounds, condemning all sexually tinged dynamics in the workplace, stereotyping men as abusers and women as perpetual victims in need of quasi-Victorian protections.…Concerns that the post-Weinstein climate may lead to witch hunts against any man who flirts with a female colleague have been met with angry comments along the lines of “flirting in the workplace IS HARASSMENT.” A tweet by singer/songwriter Marian Call that got more than 2,000 retweets and nearly 6,500 “likes” asked, “dudes are you aware how happy women would be if strangers & coworkers never ‘flirted’ with us again … this is the world we want.”

But is it? It’s certainly not the world I want: Except in college, nearly every man I have ever dated was either a co-worker or, once I switched entirely to free-lancing, someone I met through work. This is not unusual, even in the age of dating websites and apps.

This has always been the aspect of sexual harassment law that renders it inherently unfair and to many, incomprehensible. In many cases the exact same conduct is harassment if unwelcome, and successful mating strategy if welcome.  Don’t bite my head off, but this was what Donal Trump was alluding to in his repulsive conversation with Billy Bush. He was claiming  that women like being sexually assaulted by the rich and powerful. In many cases, he may be right. Legally, when he’s right, it may not be sexual harassment. Ethically, it is still wrong. If the women feels compelled not to object to the sexual overtures because of an inequality of power, it is very wrong, and illegal. Continue reading

You Thought THAT Was Outrageous Sexual Harassment? No, THIS Is Outrageous Sexual Harassment…

Yes, disbarred judge Ted Abrams’conduct was terrible.  His harassing behavior towards a female lawyer, however, was chivalry itself compared to what Derek Wright, the owner of Pleasant Grove-based Lone Peak Controls and D& L Electric Control Company, subjected the company’s office manager to during her five year tenure, before he fired her for complaining about him.

In her sexual harassment law suit filed this week, Trudy Nycole Anderson alleges that Wright…

  • Gave her a Monday-through-Friday “schedule” outlining what she should wear, with “Mini-skirt Monday,” “Tube-top Tuesday,” “Wet T-shirt Wednesday,” “No bra Thursday” and “Bikini top Friday.”
  • Repeatedly asked her about her breast size and talked about her breasts in front of other employees.

Now THIS is Sexual Harassment!

The Arizona Supreme Court has both censured  former municipal court judge Theodore “Ted” Abrams, prohibiting him from serving as a judge again, and disciplined him as an attorney, suspending his law license for two years. Why, you may well ask?

Well, it seems that before he resigned as a judge there was  a bit of a woman problem: if an attractive woman appeared before Abrams as an attorney, she had a problem.

The State Bar of Arizona determined that Abrams, while serving as a judge, “engaged in a prolonged and relentless effort to sexually harass a female assistant public defender who appeared in his court,” as well as, “in a gross misuse of his power, … inflict[ing] his retribution from the bench for the victim’s refusal to yield to his pursuit.”  Over a 14-month period, Abrams sent the woman at least 28 voice mails and 85 text messages, many of which were sexually overt, including one in which he described a sex act he wanted to perform on her. He repeatedly pressured the lawyer for sex, made slurping noises—I’m pretty sure there is something in the judicial code of conduct that prohibits that-– and once fondled her buttocks. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week

“Ms. Hanes was awarded the position based solely on her merit.”

—– Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) spokesman Tyler Matsdorf, “explaining” that although the Senator’s  state office director, Melodee Hanes, and Baucus were in the midst of a year-long romantic affair when the Senator submitted her name to President Obama as a candidate  to be appointed U.S. attorney in Montana, the nomination was completely unrelated to the relationship.


This clearly calls for..

An Ethics Alarm Pop Quiz! Continue reading