In a Lansing, Michigan, courtroom on Tuesday, young women began confronting Larry Nassar, the disgraced doctor for USA Gymnastics who stands accused of sexual assault by dozens of athletes, including Simon Biles, the latest member of Team USA gymnastics to come forward with allegations of molestation.
Several women made victim impact statements in court as Nassar’s sentencing hearing got underway. In November, the doctor pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal misconduct and confessed to using his status as a trusted physician to sexually abuse young girls. He also pleaded guilty to three other charges in another county and has been slapped with a 60-year prison sentence for possession of child pornography, unrelated to the accusations against him from scores of gymnasts.
Over the next four days, as many as 100 of Nassar’s victims are expected to deliver victim impact statements in court, CNN reported, as the judge is allowing all of his accusers to speak if they wish — not just the seven victims he has pleaded guilty to abusing. Kyle Stephens was one of the first to do so, detailing her first sexual experience, which occurred at the age of 6 years old. Nassar, a friend of Stephens’ parents, exposed himself to her in a shadowy boiler room, she said. For the next six years, he continued to abuse her, rubbing his penis on her, masturbating in front of her and sticking his finger in her vagina, Stephens recalled, saying Nassar was a “repulsive liar” for convincing her family that she was making up the allegations against him.
“Sexual abuse is so much more than a disturbing physical act,” Stephens told the court. “It changes the trajectory of a victim’s life, and that is something that nobody has the right to do.” In her case, it had a dramatic effect on the trajectory of her life and that of her father, who committed suicide in 2016, a tragedy she attributes to the abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.
“Little girls don’t stay little forever,” Stephens said. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
As victims addressed Nassar, often tearfully, he looked at them briefly, but mainly kept his head buried in his hands, video from inside the courtroom showed.
“Why me? Why was I the 9-year-old?” a visibly shaken Alexis Moore asked him. “I have looked into my parents heart and eyes, seeing their pain from now knowing that their only child was molested right in front of them, in the same room.”
Below, watch video highlights of the courageous victims and their parents confront Nassar, including the grieving mother of Chelsea Markham, a young woman was abused by Nassar and later committed suicide. And to watch extended victim impact statements, click here.
Read the full story at CNN.
Margaret Atwood has spoken out against claims that she is a “Bad Feminist” for protesting the firing of a creative writing professor at the University of British Columbia who was dismissed from his job over allegations of sexual misconduct that have yet to be made public. In an opinion piece for The Globe and Mail, Atwood wrote that she believed UBC violated due process in its treatment of the professor, Steven Galloway, with whom she is friends.
“Specifically, several years ago, the university went public in national media before there was an inquiry, and even before the accused was allowed to know the details of the accusation,” Atwood wrote. “Before he could find them out, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The public — including me — was left with the impression that this man was a violent serial rapist, and everyone was free to attack him publicly, since under the agreement he had signed, he couldn’t say anything to defend himself. A barrage of invective followed.”
After a months-long inquiry by a judge, Galloway was found innocent of all but one of the allegations, including the most serious allegation against him, according to a statement made by the university’s faculty association. Galloway was fired anyway, and the official findings of the investigation have never been released. According to Atwood, who signed a public letter asking for transparency about the accusations against Galloway and his subsequent firing, the university violated Galloway’s right to due process. She even went so far as to compare the case to the Salem witchcraft trials, “in which a person was guilty because accused, since the rules of evidence were such that you could not be found innocent.”
Atwood, who thanks to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale (and the TV series based on it) has become a feminist hero, took her position a step further and applied it to the #MeToo movement. Atwood claimed the phenomenon is a form of “vigilante justice” that emerged as “a symptom of a broken legal system.” Women took to the internet with their stories of harassment and rape, she said, since they knew that they would never “get a fair hearing through institutions.” But Atwood also warned against the possibility of permanent “extralegal power structures,” arguing that in order for their to be “civil and human rights for women, there have have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice.”
In wake of Atwood’s claims, some have accused her of refusing to listen to the younger generation, and of siding with “her powerful male friend” against the interests of her fellow women. Others, meanwhile, have praised Atwood, thanking her for having the courage “to point out that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is the key to a civilized society.”
Mandy Teefey, the mother of Selena Gomez, has revealed that her daughter chose to participate in Woody Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day in New York, even after Teefey “had a long talk with her” about the accusations against him. Teefey had been responding to a user on Instagram who had demanded that she “make Selena write an apology” for appearing in a film written and directed by a man who allegedly molested 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, the daughter of his then-girlfirend, Mia Farrow. Allen, whose apparent obsession with young women and girls is well-documented in his own writing, also went on to marry Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, after Farrow discovered that Allen had been taking naked pictures of Soon-Yi while dating Farrow. At the time, Soon-Yi was between the ages of 19 and 21.
“No one can make Selena do anything she doesn’t want to,” wrote Teefey on Instagram. “I had a long talk with her about not working with him (Allen) and it didn’t click. Her team are amazing people. There is no fall person here. No one controls her. She makes all her own decisions. No matter how hard you try to advise. It falls on deaf ears.”
Fans of the popular singer have since condemned Teefey for not standing up for her daughter, while others accused Gomez of being a hypocrite for working with Allen while simultaneously claiming to stand with women who have been sexually harassed. Adding heat to the fire was speculation that Teefey and Gomez were already fighting with each other — according to Elle, the two had unfollowed her each other on Instagram, allegedly over the pop singer’s relationship with fellow singer Justin Bieber.
In recent days, Gomez’s fellow A Rainy Day in New York star Timothée Chalamet said that the past year had changed his perspective on the “criteria for accepting a job,” and that he no longer wanted “to profit from my work on the film.”
“To that end,” he wrote on Instagram, “I am going to to donate my entire salary to three charities: TIME’S UP, The LGBT Center in New York, and RAINN. I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Miro Sorvino, among others, has also denounced Woody Allen in recent days, explaining in an open apology to Dylan Farrow that she wished she had never worked for Allen, and that she was sorry for being one of the many who “praised him and ignored you.”
Read the full story at BuzzFeed.
Actress Eliza Dushku has alleged that one of Hollywood’s most famous stunt coordinators molested her when she was just 12 years old — and then let her fall and break her ribs after her “tough adult female friend” confronted him over his behavior. Dushku said she was motivated to finally speak publicly about Joel Kramer, who worked as her stunt coordinator in 1994 film True Lies, after seeing a photo of Kramer hugging a young girl that “has haunted me near nonstop since.”
“I remember, so clearly 25 years later, how Joel Kramer made me feel special, how he methodically built my and my parents’ trust, for months grooming me; exactly how he lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parent that he would take me for a swim at the stunt crew’s hotel pool and for my first sushi meal thereafter,” Dushku wrote on Facebook. “I remember vividly … how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel held flimsy at his mid-section … I remember how he laid me down on the bed, wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me. He spoke these words: “You’re not going to sleep on me now sweetie, stop pretending you’re sleeping,” as he rubbed harder and faster against my catatonic body. When he was ‘finished’, he suggested, “I think we should be careful…,” [about telling anyone] he meant. I was 12, he was 36.”
Sue Booth-Forbes, who served as Dushku’s legal guardian on the set of True Lies, corroborated the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star’s account, telling CNN that she reported Kramer “to a person in authority” after the pre-teen told her about what had allegedly happened.
“I was met with blank stares and had the sense that I wasn’t telling that person anything they didn’t already know,” Booth-Forbes recalled. “I tried to keep Joel away from her as did others working on the set, but because of all the stunts she had to do, he was constantly involved with her and her body.” In an essay for HuffPost, Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the role of Dushku’s mother in the film, also revealed that that the actress had confided in her about Kramer’s alleged molestation some years ago. “Many of us involved in True Lies were parents,” Curtis wrote. “Jim, Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and myself. Parents of daughters. What allegedly happened to Eliza, away from the safety net of all of us and our purview is a terrible, terrible thing to learn about and have to reconcile.”
Schwarzenegger also spoke out about Dushku’s revelations, taking to Twitter and saying that he was “shocked and saddened” by the claims.
Tom, you bet your ass all of us would have done something. I’m shocked and saddened for Eliza but I am also proud of her – beyond being a great talent and an amazing woman, she is so courageous. https://t.co/EJJbkdior2
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 16, 2018
Since Dushku first came forward, two more women have accused Kramer of sexual misconduct. Stuntwoman Laura Albert told Deadline that Kramer had lured her 15-year-old sister and her 16-year-old friend to the pool at his hotel when he was 39 years old. At the pool, Kramer allegedly exposed his penis to Albert’s sister, and then had intercourse with the sister’s friend in his hotel room. Police were reportedly called about the incident, but didn’t charge Kramer because the age of consent in North Carolina is 16. Another professional stuntwoman accused Kramer of exposing himself to her in a car and forcing her to perform oral sex.
Kramer, who has already been dropped by his talent agency in wake of the accusations, has denied Dushku’s claims as “outlandish, manipulated lies” and as a “well-crafted fabrication.” Kramer has also denied the stuntwoman’s claim, but admitted to having sex with Albert’s sister’s friend.
Read the full story at CNN.
Officials in Denmark have formally charged inventor Peter Madsen in the death of slain journalist Kim Wall. Wall went missing in August after visiting Madsen’s homemade submarine for a story she was working on about him. She never returned and investigators began finding dismembered parts of her body in Koge Bay during the days following her disappearance, all the way until early October when they discovered her head, legs and clothing. Wall, 30, was a freelance journalist from Sweden.
Madsen’s story has changed several times, investigators have said, and in late October they said he made the grisly admission that he dismembered her body, but he has maintained that he did not murder Wall and that her death was accidental. In October, authorities also hit Madsen, 46, with mutilation and sexual assault charges. The inventor initially said Wall’s death was the result of the submarine’s hatch having fallen and struck her on the head. But an autopsy of her remains found no such head trauma that would corroborate that account. Police believe Madsen then intentionally sank the submarine in a bid to cover up the crime. Prosecutors are pursuing a sentence of life in prison.
Wall’s brutal killing called renewed attention to the dangers that women, particularly those working as freelance journalists with no institutionalized safety precautions built in for their protection, face each day.
Read the full story at the BBC.
The former U.S. Army private who was convicted of leaking government secrets, sentenced to 35 years in a military prison and who then had that sentence commuted by then-President Barack Obama last year after seven years of incarceration is wading into the world of politics with a run for the U.S. Senate. Chelsea Manning, who was previously known as Bradley and convicted in 2013 of stealing hundreds of thousands of pages of top secret government documents and turning them over to WikiLeaks, also came out as transgender after the sentencing and adopted the name Chelsea.
As CNN points out, Manning is entering a crowded field for the Democratic nomination that already includes three other candidates who have filed to run. And she could find herself aiming to unseat the Democratic incumbent, 74-year-old Ben Cardin, who has yet to announce whether he plans to run for a another term, but has more than $2 million in his campaign war chest.
“We live in trying times — times of fear, of suppression, of hate,” Manning declares in her campaign launch video, showing viewers clips from the deadly clashes between white nationalists and protesters last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. The imagery in the video then shifts to scenes from Capitol Hill and the Women’s March a year ago, before footage of President Donald Trump is shown meeting with Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
“We don’t need more or better leaders. We need someone willing to fight,” Manning adds. “We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support us. They won’t compromise.” Clips of Manning wearing all black and holding a red rose are shown to viewers as she concludes, “You’re damn right we got this.”
Manning is not the only former federal convict to recently announce a run for the U.S. Senate. Last week, the former sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona, announced his plans to run for one of Arizona’s soon to be vacant seats. Arpaio, whose hardline and defiant tactics to stop undocumented immigrants made him a controversial figure and ultimately a felon, was pardoned last year by President Donald Trump.
Watch Manning’s full campaign video below.
Read the full story at CNN.
After signing an open letter that condemned the #MeToo movement as a “witch hunt,” iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve has issued a statement clarifying her position on sexual harassment and assault.
“Nothing in the letter pretends that harassment has some good, otherwise I would not have signed it,” she wrote in a statement published in the newspaper Liberation, according to Variety.
The original letter, which was signed by one hundred French writers, academics and performers said, among other things, that men should not be punished for touching women’s knees or trying “to steal a kiss” while at work just because their female coworkers “did not return their attentions.”
“What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite — we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly’, shut down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend are regarded as complicit and traitors,” the letter declared.
In her new statement, Deneuve repeated her discomfort with the way sexual misconduct allegations are handled publicly, and on social media. “I don’t like this aspect of our times where each feels the right to judge, arbitrate, condemn — a society where simple denunciations on social networks lead to punishment, job losses and often lynching in the media,” she said.
But the actress also emphasized that during her many years in the business, she has come to understand full well that misaligned power dynamics can lead to abuse. “What creates situations that are traumatizing and unbearable is always the power, the subordination or some sort of overpowering. The trap occurs when it becomes impossible to say no without risking one’s job, or being subjected to humiliations and degrading sarcasm,” she said.
To emphasize her longstanding support of the feminist movement, Deneuve referred to her signing of the “Manifesto of the 343 Sluts,” a 1971 document that revealed that its signatories had obtained abortions — which were illegal at the time in France. And she apologized to any victims of harassment and assault that may have been hurt by the letter in Le Monde.
“I am a free woman and I’ll always be,” she said. “I salute fraternally all the victims of odious acts who may have been offended by this public letter published in Le Monde. It is to them and them only that I present my apologies.”
Read the full story at Variety.
An anonymous accusation of sexual misconduct against Aziz Ansari has prompted an impassioned debate over whether the popular comedian’s alleged behavior constituted abuse, as well as the power and scope of the #MeToo movement. In an explosive report from the website Babe, a photographer using the pseudonym Grace shared her account of a date she had with Ansari in September. At the time, she was 22 years old and Ansari was 34.
Ansari, she told Babe, had advanced on her swiftly after they walked to his apartment following a dinner date at a Manhattan restaurant. She said that Ansari repeatedly pressured her for sex, and that when she demurred he briefly performed oral sex on her. Afterward, she claimed, Ansari proceeded to literally chase her around the apartment as she attempted to communicate, verbally and nonverbally, that he was moving too fast for her. When Ansari asked her explicitly for sex again, Grace told him, “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you.”
Ansari, she said, initially backed off after the rebuff, and said that they could just sit on the couch. But instead of letting her calm down, he told her “to go down on him,” which Grace said she did because she “just felt really pressured.” He then asked her for sex once more, and after she again refused he told her they could “just chill” on the couch for a while. Ansari, she claimed, still wouldn’t leave her alone even after she grew increasingly upset, and she left the apartment soon thereafter “[feeling violated].”
This is the text Grace* sent Aziz Ansari after their date which left her feeling “violated”. She tells Ansari how uncomfortable he made her feel, saying “you ignored clear non-verbal cues” and “kept going with advances.”
— babe (@babedotnet) January 14, 2018
In a statement made in response to the article, Ansari, a self-proclaimed feminist who was seen wearing a Time’s Up pin when he accepted a Golden Globe award last week, acknowledged her account, but said that at the time the sexual activity described was “by all indications … completely consensual.”
“It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned,” said Ansari. “I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
In an essay for The Atlantic, writer and author Caitlin Flanagan questioned why Ansari’s anonymous accuser felt victimized, suggesting that the account, while possibly upsetting, was in no way descriptive of a non-consensual encounter and that publishing the story had “destroyed a man who didn’t deserve it.” She said the piece amounted to “3,000 words of revenge porn.” A similar argument by Bari Weiss in The New York Times argued that the only real crime Ansari was guilty of was “of not being a mind reader.” Others, including feminist writer Jessica Valenti, have suggested that the account exemplifies the “oftentimes harmful” reality of “what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters,” and reiterated that the woman had the right to speak out — and that it was up to others to determine whether and if Ansari should face consequences.
Meanwhile, many questioned the ethics of Babe, until this weekend a relatively unknown website that covers women’s issues, and its decision to publish the story. Joshi Herrmann, the editor in chief of Babe’s parent company, told CNN he stood by the decision. “It’s newsworthy because of who he is and what he has said in his standup, what he has written in his book, what he has proclaimed on late night TV,” Herrmann said. “Her account is pointing out a striking tension between those things and the way she says he treated her in private.” He added, “”We would publish this again tomorrow.”
One journalist who is strongly against the anonymous accusations is HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield, who took to the air Monday night and read a scathing open letter in which she condemned Ansari’s accuser. Watch that below.
Michelle Williams has spoken out about the controversy surrounding her reshoot fees for All the Money in the World.
Shortly before the film’s release, Kevin Spacey, who starred in the movie, was accused of sexual misconduct by actor Anthony Rapp. Other men subsequently stepped forward with similar allegations. All the Money in the World director Ridley Scott decided to replace Spacey with Christopher Plummer, requiring reshoots of key scenes.
Earlier this month, it was revealed Mark Wahlberg had been paid $1.5 million for the reshoots — while Williams had been compensated just $1,000 per day. The news reignited discussions about the wage gap in Hollywood, and Wahlberg responded by donating the entirety of his reshoot salary to Time’s Up, the anti-harassment initiative launched by some 300 prominent women in Hollywood.
Now, as Yahoo reports, Williams has released a statement about the furor surrounding her salary. In it, she thanks Wahlberg, the women who have supported her, and Anthony Rapp.
“Today isn’t about me,” she said. “My fellow actresses stood by me and stood up for me, my activist friends taught me to use my voice and the most powerful men in charge, they listened and they acted.
“If we truly envision an equal world, it takes equal effort and sacrifice. Today is one of the most indelible days of my life because of Wahlberg, [talent agency] WME and a community of women and men who share in this accomplishment. Anthony Rapp, for all the shoulders you stood on, now we stand on yours.”
Writing on Twitter, Rapp said he was “very moved by Michelle Williams’ kind words.”
Read the full story at Yahoo.