Friday, October 3, 2008

"They Got What They Asked For"

Remember the sexual harassment scandal that forced Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann to resign last spring? It's baa-acck!
Mediation appears ready to blow up in the sexual harassment cases involving two employees of former Attorney General Marc Dann, in part because the state's hired attorneys are arguing that the women "got what they asked for."

Sources told The Dispatch that the state offered Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout financial settlements of approximately $10,000 to $15,000, along with a public statement calling the women "heroes" for coming forward with the harassment accusations that eventually led to Dann's resignation under fire on May 14. They sought $400,000 apiece, plus attorney fees.

However, in a Sept. 19 letter to Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, Rex Elliott, attorney for Stankoski and Stout, called the state's mediation tactics "shameful."

"It is now clear, moreover, that the state never had any real desire to engage in a discussion over resolution but rather would prefer to attack Cindy and Vanessa and portray them as women 'who got what they asked for.'"

(Source: Columbus Dispatch)
Man, I do hope these two women will now take the case to court. I hope they get a nice fat settlement. The state's approach is a continuation of the intimidation tactics that made it impossible to redress the problem while the women still worked in Dann's office. Except now the bad guys are invoking the kind of logic that undergirds rape myths.

Next thing you know, we'll hear that the women invited the harassment because their skirts were too short. Or because they went out for drinks with their supervisors. Or because their bosses are men and well, y'know, men are such beasts they just can't help themselves.

Hyperbole, you say? Remember, one of the principals in this didn't just proposition one of the wronged women. After drinking too much, she woke up next to her half-naked superior, Anthony Gutierrez. He wore only his underwear. The top button of her pants was undone. As I argued last spring, it makes no sense to treat this as a civil matter when the facts seem to indicate a possible sexual assault.

So yeah. "Rape myths" would seem to just about cover it.

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