By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Ok, I’m going to take a very unpopular position and defend it to the best of my ability. It is what I do. A word of caution — don’t try this at home. I’m a professional.
Disclaimers and Disclosures
Sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual predators have no business in the work place. I am blessed to be married to a very strong and independent woman and she and I are doing our best to raise our daughter to be a strong and independent woman. If I learned someone groped my wife, exposed themselves to her, or made lewd suggestions to her — I’d feel compelled to confront the predator who did so.
I’m privileged to be a partner in the largest criminal defense law firm in Collin County. We are fortunate to work with women who are intelligent, creative, and crucial to our survival. If someone at our office groped, exposed themselves, or made a lewd suggestion to them — it would be their last day working here.
The national debate and revelation we’re having is a healthy one about sexual predators in the workplace. I worked for an employment law ’boutique’ after law school for a cup of coffee, so I know sexual harassment happens and there are pigs who inhabit the workplace who are tough to get rid of.
What I don’t like about this debate is it seems the default to each and every allegation is to believe them.
What is worse to me is when the Matt Lauers, Charlie Roses & Garrison Keillors of the world (or people who support them) speak up to defend against the accusations they are immediately brow-beaten into shame and submission. I don’t like that at all.
I’ve been in the accusation business long enough to know a one-sided, overly-sanitized and white-washed allegation when I see one.
Here is a New York Times account of one of the Matt Lauer allegations:
“In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, she said, he locked the door, which he could do by pressing a button while sitting at his desk. (People who worked at NBC said the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees.)
“The woman said Mr. Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She said the anchor then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair and had intercourse with her. At some point, she said, she passed out with her pants pulled halfway down. She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.
You can read the whole article here.
Let me get this straight… So little miss muffet sat on her tuffet and along came Matt Lauer who in 2 minutes flat used his celebrity magic and powers over her to sexually assault her thereby satisfying his predatory quota for the morning. Lock him up!
Experience tells me if Matt Lauer were to walk into my office, I doubt he would say anything close to resembling this story. I’m guessing I’d probably hear a tale about back and forth flirtation and innuendos culminating with consensual sex in his office.
In fact, Mr. Lauer apologized claiming “enough” of the allegation was true to merit his disgrace.
My operating theory were he to be tried for sexual assault would be this was consensual extra-marital affair. She got caught cheating on her husband because she passed out (for some reason she won’t explain) and the nurse saw her in a compromising position. Presto-chango — now it is rape.
Again, who am I to say she’s lying. I wasn’t there. But seldom is a true story this one-sided.
Don’t get me wrong — Matt Lauer was in a position of power and had sex with a subordinate in his office. If I ran NBC, I’d can him whether this was consensual or not.
I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Charlie! Watching him was like watching a favorite college professor making the worlds most unstable problems seem manageable.
Mr. Rose hasn’t denied some allegations but has taken exception to others. What is wrong with hearing him out?
Mr. Keillor claims the situation stemmed from him touching a woman’s back where his hand inadvertently went up her blouse. I don’t know if that one flies, Garrison, but again relative to TV executives running naked through the hallways this one seems a bit mild. Why would we brow beat a man like this and why can’t we hear him out?
What’s My Point?
It is ridiculously unhealthy for us to default to believing every accuser unconditionally. We construe the accused’s silence as guilt but even worse — when the accused does speak out — he is shouted down as soon as he speaks. So it sounds like the accused’s choice is to lose or lose worse. Not too fair.
I’m in a position to defend situations like this on a routine basis. Fortunately, I do it in a courtroom where I can rely upon rights and tools like the presumption of innocence, an person’s right to remain silent which can’t be held against them, and the burden of proof being upon the state.
We can’t forget the American values and principles from the US Constitution in our everyday lives. They work!
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should consult an attorney directly.