What happens when a sexual assault victim is later accused of sexual assault? #MeToo

Over the weekend, there were several reports (including this one from Kim Severson at the New York Times) that Asia Argento paid out a large settlement to a man who accused Ms. Argento of sexually assaulting him in a hotel room when he was 17 years old.

Asia Argento is one of the women who had accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. She is also a leading advocate for the #MeToo movement.

There are already additional reports that X Factor Italy will cut Ms. Argento from the show if the New York Times reports are validated.

How does this affect Ms. Argento’s claims against Mr. Weinstein?

The New York Times report is no basis to conclude that Ms. Argento welcomed the behavior of which she accuses Mr. Weinstein. It is also entirely possible that Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Argento committed the hostile acts of which each is separately accused.

Each of the accusations paints a picture of a person in power taking advantage of that disparity to overwhelm a relatively powerless victim.

The takeaways for your business.

These are the types of issues that you may encounter in your workplace as lawyers and HR professionals if you haven’t done so already.

Just remember that when you are called upon to investigate, each situation stands on its own. Is it ok to start by believing the victim? Yes, you’re not operating in a court of law where the accused is innocent until proven guilty. It’s also unlikely that a victim of sexual assault in your workplace is completely making it up.

However, don’t let your initial feelings inhibit you from performing a thorough investigation. Acquire as many relevant facts as possible — facts trump stereotypes and predispositions. Ultimately, the outcome of your inquiry will be a byproduct of applying your skills and experience to what you’ve learned by investigating the claim.

I’d like to hear from you.

What do you think about all this? How does it make you feel? Have you encountered anything like this at work? How did you/the business respond?

Email me. I’d love to hear from you.


“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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