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COLUMN: It shouldn't take a NYT story to expose sexual abusers



Comedian Louis C.K. on November 9, 2017 admitted to sexual misconduct, consisting of masturbating and exposing himself in front of women. This came after the New York Times published the allegations of five women

Sexual harassment or misconduct allegations should not require an exposé by major networks in order to be taken seriously. They should be taken seriously when they start. 

The allegations against Louis C.K. are not new. In 2015, Gawker published rumors about C.K.’s sexual harassment allegations

Comedian Roseanne Barr, in an interview with the Daily Beast in 2016, said rumors like these are common in the comedy circuit, as did comedian Jen Kirkman, who mentioned the rumors about C.K. on her podcast “I Seem Fun.”

The comedy circuit seemed to know there were rumors linking C.K. and sexual misconduct for a long time.

A comparable situation is occurring with the former USA Gymnastics’ doctor Larry Nassar. Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney said Nassar sexually abused her starting at the age of 13.

And Maroney is not the only one. Nassar is currently facing 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual accounts

This abuse continued in USA Gymnastics. In 2013, a case in Georgia claimed USA Gymnastics was negligent for allowing coach William McCabe to continue coaching after receiving four prior sexual abuse complaints, which have now been reported to the police

This was a widespread problem with USA Gymnastics. 

Two former officials of the program admitted under oath that if the organization received reports about a coach’s sexual misconduct from other coaches, it was routinely ignored unless it had the victim’s signature

This prevents an investigation from even occurring, which leads to cases like former coach Mark Schiefelbein, who was charged with molesting a 10-year-old girl. When a case was filed, a subpoena of USA Gymnastics revealed multiple complaints of sexual misconduct

When these scandals become big, a common question is why the accusers never came out before. Why are they only doing it now that there is a story to latch onto?  

From a baseline view, this appears valid until you realize that these floating rumors, complaints and reports have all existed for years and were simply brushed off. 

While these are famous cases, ignoring allegations isn’t something just famous people do. Most of my friends have talked about that one creepy guy that no one wants around because he always makes inappropriate comments or takes things too far. 

I would bet that in addition to “that guy,” most people also know someone that brushes sexually inappropriate behavior off because the person doing it is deemed a nice guy or part of the friend group.

So in the end, it doesn’t surprise me that these scandalous reports start a snowball effect with more allegations. Because no one listens to us separately, maybe the only way to get traction is after a New York Times exposé. 

npatwari@indiana.edu

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