As More College Students Say “Me Too,” Accused Men Are Suing For Defamation
Victims of sexual harassment and assault are saying "Me Too" as the country goes through a culture shift following revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other major celebrities accused of everything from crude comments to rape. On college campuses, that shift has been playing out for years, due in part to student activism and to increased attention to campus sexual violence from the Obama administration. But defamation lawsuits like the one Jane faces are a new tool in the battle over Title IX enforcement and are proving to be serious obstacles to students filing sexual misconduct complaints. Activists, college administrators, and lawyers say they've seen a spike in defamation lawsuits over the past couple of years as defenders of accused students say they're too often victims of overzealous school disciplinary panels — a view echoed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
First of all, these lawyers raking in piles of cash by defending these "victims" of "false accusation" and lying by saying that false accusations are common when they're rare to incredibly rare are demons and I actually hope they all die. I don't automatically hate all lawyers because many lawyers are heroes who are an essential aspect of our justice system, fucked up as it may be. But these lawyers are the scummiest of the scum, the lowest bottom feeders, licking shit off of the boots of rapists for sustenance.
These lawsuits are going to grind our progress to a halt, and is already in the process of doing so. As they become more and more common, victims are going to have a new reason to fear coming forward.
Colby Bruno, a lawyer at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, said that a few years ago, about 5% of her cases arising from alleged campus sexual assaults involved an accuser facing a defamation suit; now a little more than half do. When attorney Laura Dunn started her victim advocacy nonprofit SurvJustice in 2014, she said she did not get any requests from students facing threats of defamation suits for reporting a sexual assault. Since last year, though, Dunn estimates five students have called asking for her help. Until a couple of years ago, Schneider had only seen one student who reported a sexual assault to their college get sued for defamation. Now, he said, it happens in around a quarter of cases he's involved in. "I think that percentage is going to rise."
Instead of fearing being dragged through the mud to ultimately be disbelieved and forced to share space with their rapists and deal with increased abuse from them, victims now have to fear financial ruin. Even if the lawsuit fails, defendants have to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves.
The thing about rape culture is that rapists, assaulters, and abusers very often have power over their victims, including financial power. These people know that in order to get away with their disgusting crimes, they need to be in positions of power. They crave that power over people, and so they work and cheat and abuse their way to the top, ending up as managers and executives and producers and celebrities. They can then use this monetary advantage to sue or threaten to sue their victims, which they can and do target because of their vulnerable positions.
Maybe they'll think twice before abusing a rich actress, but the service workers, the house/hotel cleaners, the low-level office workers, the students, and all the other people struggling just to get by who couldn't dream of affording a decent lawyer? They're the ones who will continue to be victimized and silenced.
I was waiting for something like this to come out. This is why, although the progress made by #MeToo and the eventual refusal of companies and brands to tolerate sexual predators, we are far from ending rape culture. We need a revolution, a complete change of the culture from the bottom-up - meaning we need to start with properly educating children. Again, I think that all the powerful men being fired for being predators has helped. It's a step. But they're just going to get sneakier now. They're still out there, and so much of our society will still tolerate them.
Right now, we need some kind of charitable organization dedicated to paying lawyers and court fees for the victims of these bullshit lawsuits. And we need to work on legislation preventing bullshit defamation suits in general. We need to let judges know that these suits are designed to intimidate and silence victims and to throw them out quickly, and/or encourage counter-suits so victims are compensated.
In the long term, we need to keep teaching respect, consent, and bodily autonomy. We need to keep fighting rape culture, because it's still going strong despite the recent blow we dealt it.
I will fight it until I die.