46 Abuse of Women News Articles
for December 2017
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12-16-17 Anita Hill to chair Hollywood harassment commission
A special commission to combat sexual harassment in the entertainment and media industries will be chaired by lawyer and academic Anita Hill. The first meeting of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace was attended by a wide range of industry giants. Spearheaded by female executives, including Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, it will reconvene in 2018. It comes after a string of allegations made against dozens in Hollywood. The group was announced on Friday following a meeting convened by Ms Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, Nike co-chair Maria Eitel, lawyer Nina Show and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein. A wide range of industry leaders attended the first meeting, including the chairman of Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony and Universal. The commission said it will meet in the new year to define its scope and priorities in the wake of weeks of allegations against prominent industry figures, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. (Webmaster's comment: And why has Winstein still not be charged?) "The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power," Ms Kennedy said. Anita Hill brought sexual harassment to national prominence in the US in 1991 when she publically testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when he was her boss at the Department for Education and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After her private allegations were leaked to the press, she testified publicly at a televised investigative committee where her allegations came under attack. He was eventually confirmed in the position, despite her testimony. Now a professor at Brandeis University in Boston, she said it was "time to end the culture of silence".
12-16-17 Weinstein 'derailed my career' Sorvino says after Peter Jackson claim
Actress Mira Sorvino said she is "heartsick" after learning she may have lost out on major roles because of Harvey Weinstein. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson said both Sorvino and Ashley Judd were "blacklisted" following conversations with Weinstein's company. Both actresses have claimed the media mogul sexually harassed them. Weinstein has denied allegations of misconduct, and of blacklisting the actresses. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was initially in development with Weinstein's Miramax company, before being passed to New Line Cinema. In an interview with Stuff.co.nz this week, Jackson said he was interested in casting both women in the blockbuster franchise. "I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998," he told the site. "At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us." "I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women - and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list." "In hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing," Jackson said. Sorvino said in a tweet: "Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying." "There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I'm just heartsick."
12-15-17 New York police investigating Russell Simmons rape claims
New York City police are investigating rape and sexual assault allegations against music producer Russell Simmons. The former rap mogul took to Instagram to declare his innocence and dismiss allegations as an "insane pile on". "Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges," he posted on Thursday. Several women have now come forward to accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct, including claims of rape. The New York Police Department (NYPD) announced on Thursday they would look into the claims made in the US media against the 60-year-old founder of Def Jam Recordings. The announcement came a day after the New York Times reported accounts of three women and the Los Angeles Times published allegations from another five. "The NYPD has received information regarding allegations involving Russell Simmons in the NYC area and our detectives are in the process of reviewing that information," an NYPD spokesman said in a statement. Hours later, Simmons posted to social media with the hashtag #NotMe in a play on the #MeToo campaign, in which thousands of women came forward to share stories of sexual harassment and abuse. (Webmaster's comment: What's really interesting is that he's a celebrity black and being investigated while all the celebrity whites recently accused of rape and other sex crimes are not being investigated!)
12-15-17 Accusations of sexual harassment and assault against President Trump
70% of Americans think that Congress should investigate the accusations of sexual harassment and assault against President Trump, while 25% disagree. Just 39% of Republicans think Congress should investigate, compared with 86% of Democrats.
12-15-17 Franken: Why Democrats forced him out
As the sexual harassment tidal wave hits Washington, “only one party is doing the right thing,” said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. Last week, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation after an eighth woman accused him of unwanted touching or kissing. In a “surprisingly defiant” speech, the former comedian said some of the allegations were “simply not true,” but that the scandal prevented him from doing an effective job. As Franken noted, said Jeet Heer in NewRepublic.com, it’s ironic that he was forced out while a man accused of groping, kissing, and assaulting more than a dozen women occupies the Oval Office, and accused child molester Roy Moore, another Republican, had his party’s support in Alabama’s Senate race. But Democrats really had little choice. It’s a party that heavily relies on the votes of women and has positioned itself as a champion of women’s rights. Republicans, meanwhile, are solidifying their role as “the party of gender reactionaries.”
12-15-17 Judge accused
Six women have accused a prominent federal appeals court judge of making sexually suggestive comments and other inappropriate behavior, The Washington Post reported this week. Most of the women, four of whom remained anonymous, are former clerks or junior staffers for Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by President Reagan and has served for 32 years on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases for a large swath of the western U.S. and Hawaii and Alaska. Two of the women said the 67-year-old jurist showed them pornography in his chambers. Heidi Bond, who clerked for the judge from 2006 to 2007, said Kozinski showed her pornography unrelated to any case at least three times and asked if the images aroused her. Another former clerk said the judge repeatedly suggested at a social function that she should exercise naked. Asked about the allegations, Kozinski told a reporter, “If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.”
12-15-17 Dustin Hoffman
A third woman has accused Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, claiming the Hollywood star carried out a “horrific, demoralizing, and abusive” campaign against her during a 1984 Broadway production. Kathryn Rossetter, who starred with Hoffman in Death of a Salesman, said that the actor regularly put his hands under her slip and groped her when they stood in the wings. Rossetter said that she thought of reporting Hoffman to Actors Equity, but was told she would probably lose “any hope of a career” if she did. A television intern and playwright have separately accused Hoffman of groping and propositioning them. He denies the allegations.
12-15-17 Celebrity chef Mario Batali
Celebrity chef Mario Batali is taking a leave of absence from his restaurant empire and ABC show after being accused by four women of inappropriate touching over at least two decades. Three of the women worked for Batali and claimed he grabbed them from behind or ordered them to straddle him. Another woman, a chef, told Eater she was at a party talking to the restaurateur when someone spilled wine on her chest. Batali began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands, she said. “He just went to town.” A spokesman for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group said that after the company began receiving complaints in October, it required Batali to undergo training. The chef himself said the allegations “match up” with his own memory of the incidents. “That behavior was wrong,” said Batali.
12-14-17 Trudeau aide accused of inappropriate behaviour
A top aide in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office is on leave pending a third-party investigation into misconduct in the workplace. Quebec television network TVA Nouvelle was the first to report that multiple women had accused Claude-Éric Gagné of inappropriate behaviour. Mr Gagné, deputy director of operations, denies wrongdoing and says he is co-operating with the inquiry. Mr Trudeau is known for having a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. "We were made aware of allegations involving a member of the prime minister's office. Any allegation brought forward to this office is taken extremely seriously," Trudeau's director of communications, Kate Purchase, told the BBC. "Given the investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further in order to protect the integrity of the process and ensure fairness for the parties." In 2015, Mr Trudeau expelled two MPs from the Liberal Party caucus after an independent report concluded they had sexually harassed females members of an opposing party. Mr Gagne told Radio-Canada that he has already told the independent investigator "my version of the facts in light of these allegations which I dispute". He had been hailed by Quebec media in the past for being the French-speaking Quebecer who had the ear of the prime minister, and for helping the Liberal Party win the province during the 2015 election.
12-14-17 Film-maker Morgan Spurlock confesses to sexual misconduct
US documentary film-maker Morgan Spurlock has publicly confessed to a history of sexual misconduct, referring to himself as "part of the problem". Spurlock, who made the hit film Super Size Me, wrote on Twitter that he had been accused of rape and had paid to settle a claim of sexual harassment. He also admitted cheating on "every wife and girlfriend I have ever had". The US entertainment industry has been rocked by claims of sexual abuse and harassment going back decades. In a lengthy statement, Spurlock said that after months of such revelations he had come to the conclusion that "I am not some innocent bystander, I am also a part of the problem". "As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realisation of their past indiscretions, I don't sit by and wonder 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'," he wrote. He said the allegations of rape took place at college. It did not lead to charges or investigations but he said the woman had written about the incident in a story writing class and had named Spurlock. The settlement for alleged harassment involved a female employee and took place about eight years ago, he said. "It wasn't a gropy, feely harassment. It was verbal, and it was just as bad," he wrote. "I would call my female assistant 'hot pants' or 'sex pants' when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office. Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realised I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of non-existence."
12-12-17 Trump accused of 'slut shaming' Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
US President Donald Trump has been accused of trying to "slut shame" a female senator who demanded he quit over sexual misconduct claims. Mr Trump claimed Kirsten Gillibrand had come "begging" to him for donations and "would do anything" for cash. Senator Elizabeth Warren said Mr Trump was "trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame" her fellow Democrat. The White House dismissed claims that the remarks were sexist, adding that he was referring to political corruption. "There's no way that this is sexist at all. This is simply talking about a system that we have which is broken", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday. Mrs Sanders said the comments had "the same sentiment that the president has expressed many times before when he has exposed the corruption of the entire political system". She added that he has used "similar terminology many times" to discuss both men and women, adding that "politicians repeatedly beg for money". Scores of Democratic congresswomen are urging Congress to investigate claims against the Republican president. Three of his accusers held a press conference on Monday to repeat their allegations he groped, fondled, forcibly kissed and harassed them.
12-12-17 Trump attacks 'begging' Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
US President Donald Trump has attacked Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a day after she called on him to resign over sexual misconduct allegations. Mr Trump said the New York senator was "begging" him for campaign donations and "would do anything" for cash. Ms Gillibrand and several women who accuse the president of sexual harassment urged Congress on Tuesday to investigate their claims. Mr Trump branded their accusations "fabricated" and "FAKE NEWS!" In Wednesday morning's tweet, the US president accused Ms Gillibrand of being a lackey to Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer. "Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump," the US president posted. "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office." "President Trump should resign. But, of course, he won't hold himself accountable. Therefore, Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him."
12-12-17 Alabama Senate race: Trump candidate under spotlight as state votes
Alabama voters are heading to the polls in a Senate election that could have wider implications for Donald Trump. Republican candidate Roy Moore, a former Alabama judge who is embroiled in allegations of child sex abuse, has been endorsed by the US president. Mr Trump's support is at odds with much of the Republican establishment, who have distanced themselves from the 70-year-old Christian conservative. The race between Mr Moore and Democrat Doug Jones has been too close to call. Mr Moore denies claims by several women that he made unwelcome sexual advances, mostly when they were teenagers. However, the scandal has put a Senate seat in Alabama within reach of Democrats for the first time in more than two decades. (Webmaster's comment: Sexual predators have the opportunity to put another sexual predator besides Trump in government.)
12-12-17 India Tamil Nadu: Six face death penalty for Dalit murder
Six people have been sentenced to death for the murder of a man from India's Dalit community in an "honour killing" in Tamil Nadu last year. Sankar, 22, was hacked to death on a crowded road in broad daylight. People watched in horror as the attackers then fled on a motorcycle. He was murdered for marrying a woman from a higher Hindu caste, police say. She was also injured in the assault. Dalits, formerly called untouchables, are at the bottom of the caste system. The bride's father, who handed himself in and admitted to carrying out the attack, was one of those sentenced to death. Eleven people stood trial in the case. Apart from the six death sentences, one man was sentenced to life in prison while another got five years in jail. Three others, including the bride's mother, were acquitted of all charges. (Webmaster's comment: Honor Killings: Another great EVIL!)
12-11-17 Trump sex harassment accusers demand congressional inquiry
Three women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct have demanded a congressional inquiry. At a New York City news conference, the trio accused Mr Trump of groping, fondling, forcibly kissing, humiliating or harassing them. Three of them - Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey, and Rachel Crooks - detailed their allegations shortly beforehand live on television. The White House said the women were making "false claims". Monday morning's press conference was organised by Brave New Films, which last month released a documentary, 16 Women and Donald Trump, about the claims made by multiple women. Ms Leeds, Ms Holvey and Ms Crooks originally went public separately with their allegations a month before last year's US presidential election. The claims have been given a new lease of life by the harassment scandals that have engulfed high-profile public figures since October's fall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. On NBC News on Monday, Ms Holvey said Mr Trump had ogled her and other competitors in 2006 at the Miss USA beauty pageant, which he owned. The former Miss North Carolina, who was 20-years-old at the time, said "he lined all of us up" and was "just looking me over like I was just a piece of meat". "It left me feeling very gross," Ms Holvey told NBC host Megyn Kelly. She later told the reporters: "They've investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that he [Mr Trump] is investigated as well. "This isn't a partisan issue, this is, how women are treated every day." Ms Leeds, now in her 70s, says that when she was 38 she sat next to Mr Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York and he sexually assaulted her. Ms Leeds said: "He jumped all over me." She said she came forward because: "I wanted people to know what kind of person Trump really is, and what a pervert he is."
12-11-17 Josh Homme: Queens of the Stone Age frontman kicks female photographer
Queens of the Stone Age musician Josh Homme has apologised after a female photographer said he kicked her in the head during a concert in Los Angeles. Chelsea Lauren posted a video on social media showing Homme kicking her camera as she took pictures close to the stage on Saturday night. "I now get to spend my night in the ER. Seriously, WHO DOES THAT?", she said. In a statement, Homme apologised and said he would never intentionally cause harm to someone. Ms Lauren described the "obviously very intentional" incident to Variety magazine. "I saw him coming over and I was shooting away," she said. "He looked straight at me, swung his leg back pretty hard and full-blown kicked me in the face." She says she will file a police report. Ms Lauren posted an update to Instagram along with two photographs she had taken seconds before the incident. She said her eyebrow was bruised and her neck was sore. Homme, 44, initially issued an apology through the Queens of the Stone Age Twitter account but following criticism the singer later shared an emotional video response, which has been posted on YouTube. "I'd just like to apologise to Chelsea Lauren. I don't have any excuse or reason to justify what I did. I'm truly sorry and I hope you're okay," he said. "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and last night was definitely one of them," Homme added.
12-11-17 Modern slavery: 'I had to eat the dog's food to survive'
It was already late when Maria, alone in her room, thought about taking her own life by jumping from the seventh floor window. Her day at work, just on the other side of the door, had again started around dawn and only ended 15 hours later. She felt weak, having not eaten for two days. Maria (not her real name) had arrived in Brazil from the Philippines two months earlier, hired as a domestic worker by a family who lived in a wealthy neighbourhood of Sao Paulo. The tasks they set her seemed never ending. She had to help the mother with the three school-aged boys and a baby. Then clean the large apartment, which had a large dining room, a living room and four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Also walk the family's dog, put all the children to bed. The family's mother usually stayed at home, closely watching everything Maria did. Once, complaining that Maria had not cleaned a glass table properly, she made her polish it for almost an hour. Some days she would count the clothes Maria had ironed and, not satisfied, would make her spend hours ironing some more. Weeks would pass without Maria's employers giving her a day off. With so much to do, she often had no time left to eat. Sometimes, even the food she was given was not enough. On that night, she thought about her own family in the Philippine countryside: her mother and three young daughters, two of whom needed special medicine for their cardiac disease. With all of them depending on her wages, Maria had no choice but to carry on. So she made her bed and went to sleep. "My world was spinning. I was crying," recalled the 40-year-old about the day she almost ended her own life. She had dreamt of coming here - "I had heard that Brazil was nice" - and struggled to understand why she was being treated so badly. When Maria woke up the next day, her stomach hurt from the lack of food, but her tasks were already waiting for her. Only hours later did she find something to eat: she was cooking meat for the family's dog and took half of it for herself. "I didn't have [any other] choice to survive."
12-10-17 Actress Zaira Wasim: I was molested on flight
An actress who starred in Bollywood's biggest film says she was molested on a flight between Delhi and Mumbai. Zaira Wasim, 17, said a "middle-aged man" repeatedly moved his foot up and down her neck and back while she was "half-asleep". She documented the incident on Instagram, and tried to film the man's behaviour but said it was too dark. The airline, Air Vistara, said it was carrying out a detailed investigation into the incident. "I was sure of it. He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck," Ms Wasim posted on her Instagram account early on Sunday. She said she blamed the turbulence at first, but was later woken by the man's foot touching her neck. Ms Wasim shared a video of herself after the flight, in which she was visibly upset. "This is terrible. No one will help us if we don't decide to help ourselves," she said.
12-8-17 US lawmaker Trent Franks quits over 'surrogacy' talks with aides
Arizona Republican Trent Franks has resigned amid an ethics investigation into claims he repeatedly asked female staff to be surrogate mothers. The announcement came after a congressional panel said it was opening an inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against Mr Franks. The lawmaker acknowledged discussing surrogacy with two female aides when he and his wife were facing infertility. He is the third member of Congress to resign in three days. The Associated Press reports one of Mr Franks' former aides accuses him of offering her $5m (£3.7m) to act as a surrogate mother, repeatedly pressing her to carry his child. She told the news agency that another female staff member had also been approached by Mr Franks about surrogacy. One of the aides reportedly said Mr Franks retaliated against her after she turned down his alleged surrogacy requests by ignoring her and withholding assignments. A spokesman for the eight-term congressman - who has a net worth of $33m - would not comment on whether he had offered aides money to act as surrogates. Mr Franks said on Thursday his resignation would take effect next month. But on Friday he said he had decided to quit immediately after his wife was admitted to a Washington hospital "due to an ongoing ailment". In a statement on Thursday, the 60-year-old Republican acknowledged "my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress."
12-9-17 Dustin Hoffman faces new sex abuse allegation from co-star
A co-star of Hollywood actor Dustin Hoffman has accused him of a "horrific, demoralising and abusive experience" while on a 1984 Broadway production. Kathryn Rossetter's allegation comes a month after author Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of sexual misconduct. Hoffman has not commented on the latest claims in the Hollywood Reporter. It said it had spoken to several people on the 1984 set who questioned Rossetter's account and said they had not witnessed the conduct described. The latest allegation is one of a string made against Hollywood stars and executives, sparked by initial allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Rossetter's account was carried in a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter on Friday, as Anna Graham Hunter's allegations had been in an article on 1 November. Rossetter said the alleged events had occurred on the 1984 Broadway production of Death Of A Salesman. She said Hoffman would regularly grope her. The actor would grab her breast and then remove his hand just before a photograph was taken, she alleged. Harassment in Hollywood: who's been accused? On one night, she said, Hoffman exposed her body to the stage crew. "Suddenly he grabs the bottom of my slip and pulls it up over my head, exposing my breasts and body to the crew and covering my face," she said. Rossetter added: "Night after night I went home and cried. I withdrew and got depressed and did not have any good interpersonal relationships with the cast."
12-9-17 Uber settles defamation lawsuit filed by Indian rape victim
Uber has agreed to settle a US civil lawsuit with a woman who accused its executives of improperly obtaining her medical records after she was raped by a driver in India. The lawsuit, which follows on from a crime committed in 2014, cited media reports where officials at the firm were said to have doubted her account. The Indian woman was living in the US when she filed the lawsuit. The Uber driver was sentenced to life in prison for the rape in 2015. In December 2014, the 26-year-old Delhi woman, who later moved to Texas, filed a case anonymously in which she said she had been kidnapped and raped by Shiv Kumar Yadav. She had used the Uber smartphone app to book a taxi home but said she had been taken by Yadav to a secluded area and raped. Yadav was sentenced to life in prison following a criminal case in India. As well as the court case, the woman sued Uber and settled out of court. However, she filed a new suit in the US after reports emerged that Uber had investigated the complaint, obtained her medical records and speculated that she made up the claims to hurt the firm's business. She alleged in the lawsuit that Uber had violated her privacy and defamed her character. The lawsuit, which was settled in San Francisco where Uber has its headquarters, also said the company had kept a copy of the woman's medical records.
12-7-17 How abusers shaped the news
For decades, journalists Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, and Mark Halperin “tried to help Americans understand the country,” said Katie Rogers. Now that these powerful media figures have been felled by their sexual abuse of women, you have to wonder how their misogyny shaped their storytelling. When Lauer interviewed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the campaign, he went easy on Trump while ambushing Clinton with a barrage of hostile questions about her private email server. Lauer’s defenders argued Clinton deserved tougher questions because she was the “presumed front-runner.” But now we know how Lauer treats women in private, “that interview reads differently.” It’s the same with Halperin. When more than 12 women accused Trump of sexual assault last year, the veteran political journalist questioned their credibility and insisted the Republican candidate had done “nothing illegal.” In a book he co-authored about the 2008 election, Halperin described Clinton as “Napoleon in a navy pantsuit.” In retrospect, it’s easy to see the contempt Lauer, Halperin, O’Reilly, et al. felt for ambitious feminists. As media gatekeepers, they helped shape “what the public sees, consumes, and ultimately feels.”
12-7-17 Conyers steps down
Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest-service current member of Congress, resigned his seat this week amid mounting accusations of sexual harassment from former staffers, and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) faced growing pressure to step down in response to new allegations of inappropriate behavior. It was revealed last month that Conyers paid $27,000 out of his congressional office’s funds to settle harassment claims brought by a former employee, and he has since been accused by at least six other women of harassment and misconduct, including showing up to a meeting in his underwear and groping a woman in church. Franken faced calls from more than 30 Democratic lawmakers to step down after another woman claimed he tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006. He has been accused by six other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them.
12-7-17 Porn star August Ames found dead at home in California
Porn actress August Ames has been found dead at her home in California in a suspected suicide. The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed her death to The Blast. The actress was married to adult film director Kevin Moore who said she was the "kindest person I ever knew". August, 23, had received a tirade of abuse at the weekend on Twitter after saying she wouldn't work with "crossover" gay porn actors. Some people on social media called her homophobic and also attacked her when she posted further updates defending her actions. August, whose real name was Mercedes Grabowski, had appeared in more than 270 adult films since her debut in 2013 and won two AVN industry awards, including cutest newcomer in 2015. She was also nominated for the female performer of the year award at January's AVN Awards. Her husband Kevin says August's death is a private family matter and has described his wife as "the kindest person I ever knew" and says "she meant the world".
12-7-17 Senator Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct claims
Democratic Senator and ex-comedian Al Franken has said he plans to quit "in the coming weeks" after string of sexual harassment allegations. "I am proud that during my time in the Senate that I have used my power to be a champion of women," the Minnesota senator said from the US Senate floor. His speech came a day after nearly 30 Democrats called on him to resign. He would be the most prominent lawmaker to resign amid a wave of misconduct claims against high-profile figures. Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives Ethics Committee launched sexual harassment investigations into two Republican congressmen. Trent Franks of Arizona announced he was resigning as the inquiry was announced. Over in the Senate, Mr Franken told his colleagues on Thursday: "Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate. "I may be resigning my seat but I am not giving up my voice." The former Saturday Night Live comic and two-term senator has apologised to several women who have accused him of groping and sexual harassment, but he faced mounting pressure to step aside after a new allegation surfaced on Wednesday. Mr Franken said some of the claims against him "are simply are not true", but added that women "deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously". He also referenced the sexual misconduct allegations that have been levelled against President Donald Trump and Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. "I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party."
12-7-17 Bryan Singer: Director denies raping 17-year-old boy
Film director Bryan Singer has denied sexual assault after being sued for allegedly raping a 17-year-old boy. According to court filings obtained by Deadline, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman has alleged he was sexually assaulted by the director on a yacht in 2003. In a statement, a representative for Singer said the director "categorically denies these allegations". It comes in the same week that Singer was fired as director of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The court filings say the alleged assault happened when Singer gave Sanchez-Guzman a tour of the boat. "During this tour, Bryan Singer lured Cesar into a room, shut the door and demanded that Cesar perform oral sex. When plaintiff refused, Bryan Singer forced him into acts of oral and anal sex," the filing claims. Sanchez-Guzman is seeking compensation for damages including "emotional distress, mental anguish, physical and mental pain and suffering, a decrease in his ability to enjoy life" as well as past and future medical expenses and legal costs.
12-7-17 Lynette Daly case: Two Australians jailed after sex assault death
Two Australian men have been jailed for the sexual assault of a woman who later died from her injuries. Adrian Attwater and Paul Maris attacked Attwater's partner, Lynette Daly, during a camping trip on a New South Wales beach in 2011. The case drew attention for the length of time it took to prosecute the men. State prosecutors have apologised for the delay. It also highlighted issues of how race is dealt with in prosecutions. The court determined that Attwater had performed a violent sexual act on Ms Daly that caused her serious injuries while she was too intoxicated to consent. The attack took place on a campsite near the remote Ten Mile Beach in northern New South Wales. An ambulance was called hours later, but by the time it arrived Ms Daly had bled to death. The two men were found to have tried to wash away her blood in the sea and burn her clothes and a mattress. On Friday, Attwater was sentenced to 14 years in prison for manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault, while Maris received nine years for aggravated sexual assault and hindering the discovery of evidence. Though the men were initially charged in 2011, those charges were later dropped, with prosecutors saying they had insufficient evidence. Following a public outcry, the men were charged again last year. New South Wales director of public prosecutions Lloyd Babb issued an apology on Friday saying he "sincerely regretted" the delay. Ms Daley's stepfather, Gordon Davis, told ABC News: "The DPP has a lot to learn about Aboriginality and Aboriginals. You just can't sweep everything under the carpet, the way it was dealt with. "If it was two Aboriginal boys and they had done that to a non-indigenous person, they would've been in jail ages ago, and that's the difference."
12-6-17 Person of the Year: Time honours abuse 'silence breakers'
Time magazine has named "the Silence Breakers" - women who spoke out against sexual abuse and harassment - as its "Person of the Year". The movement is most closely associated with the #MeToo hashtag which sprung up as allegations emerged against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. But Time says the hashtag is "part of the picture, but not all of it". "This is the fastest-moving social change we've seen in decades," editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said. He told NBC's Today programme that it "began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories". The magazine illustrates the ubiquitous nature of sexual harassment by showcasing women from markedly different backgrounds on its cover. Two celebrities are featured - Ashley Judd, one of the first to speak out against Mr Weinstein, and pop singer Taylor Swift, who won a civil case against an ex-DJ who she said had grabbed her bottom. They are shown alongside Isabel Pascual, a 42-year-old strawberry picker from Mexico (not her real name); Adama Iwu, a 40-year-old corporate lobbyist in Sacramento; and Susan Fowler, 26, a former Uber engineer whose allegation brought down Uber's CEO. But many more people are identified as part of the movement behind the cover shot. This "moment", the magazine says, "doesn't have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet. The hashtag #MeToo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it. "This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries."
12-5-17 Sexsomnia: My boyfriend raped his ex 'in his sleep'
Everyone knows about sleeping people who get up and go for a walk, but far less is heard about the rare cases of men who try to have sex in their sleep. One found himself in serious trouble, reports the BBC's Sally Abrahams. But one night, after they'd been to a party, where they'd both been drinking, Sarah woke from a deep sleep to find Tom trying to penetrate her through her underwear. It was painful and disturbing. The next day, she told him she'd had enough and wanted to end the relationship. But Tom's response surprised her. "He didn't know what I was talking about so he was quite defensive. And I was really angry having been woken up and him just completely oblivious to the whole thing," Sarah says. Tom insisted he had no recollection at all of trying to have sex with Sarah that night. He was devastated by her account of what he had done and by the thought that he had hurt her. Sarah didn't know what to think. Tom's crude attempt to have sex that night had been totally different from how he normally was; gentle, intimate, sensual. So Sarah encouraged Tom to see his GP. He was referred to the sleep clinic at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London, where he spent a night with electrodes attached to his scalp to monitor his brain activity. What the doctors discovered was to have a dramatic impact on Tom's life. "His brainwaves in his sleep study show something very unusual," says Dr Guy Leschziner, the consultant neurologist in charge of Tom's case. "He appears to be awake and deeply asleep at the same time. During brief periods we can see the large slow brainwaves of deep sleep, with superimposed fast rhythms, suggesting simultaneously that he is awake." The findings of the sleep study together with Sarah's description of Tom's behaviour and his sleepwalking led Leschziner to diagnose Tom with a rare type of sleep disorder called sexsomnia.
12-5-17 John Conyers announces retirement amid sex harassment claims
Michigan lawmaker John Conyers, who is facing claims that he sexually harassed former aides, has said he will retire from the House of Representatives. Last month the 88-year-old admitted to settling a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who claims he sexually harassed her. More women have come forward to accuse Mr Conyers of sexual misconduct, but he denies any wrongdoing. He said he will endorse his son, John Conyers III, to replace him. "My legacy can't be compromised or diminished in any way by what we're going through now. This too shall pass," he told local Detroit radio host Mildred Gaddis in a phone call on Tuesday. "I want you to know that my legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here and especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III, who incidentally I endorsed to replace me in my seat in Congress," he added. Mr Conyers' great-nephew, Michigan state Senator Ian Conyers, had earlier told US media he would seek the embattled lawmaker's seat. It was unclear if the 29-year-old still planned to run. The announcement came a day after another woman who previously worked for the congressman accused him of groping her. The allegation made by Elisa Grubbs, who worked for Mr Conyers for more than a decade, was revealed in a sworn legal statement released by her lawyer.
12-5-17 Dutch DJ 'sorry' over naked man prank on pop star Maan
A Dutch radio presenter has apologised to a young pop star after ambushing her with a naked man while she was singing live on air. DJ Frank Dane pulled the prank on Maan de Steenwinkel when she was performing on Radio 538. The singer burst into tears, while the presenter and others in the studio laughed. Maan, 20, said the streaker left her "really scared" and it was a "really stupid prank". Other artists called for a boycott of the station, calling the stunt disrespectful. Singer Tim Knol said it was "not funny in any way" and urged other musicians not to promote their music on the station. In an Instagram post on Monday (in Dutch), Maan said the prank "made me feel really awful" at the time but she had accepted the DJ's apology. and he hoped they could remain friends. (Webmaster's comment: Male brutes will do anything they can to harrass women. This is sick!)
12-4-17 Trump obscene remarks were real - TV host Billy Bush
Former NBC TV host Billy Bush has confirmed that he heard Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women by the genitals in a 2005 recording. In the New York Times, he said the US president was "indulging in revisionist history", amid reports Mr Trump now questioned whether the tape was real. Mr Trump originally apologised for the remarks, which came to light a month before he won last year's election. Top Republicans condemned the tape, but most still backed Mr Trump's campaign. In his opinion piece, the former co-anchor of NBC's Access Hollywood show said he and seven others who had witnessed the remarks were convinced they were "listening to a stand-up act". "He said it. 'Grab 'em by the pussy,'" Bush wrote. "Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator." But Bush said that after reading accounts by 20 women who have come forward to accuse Mr Trump of unwanted sexual advances, he now knew better. "President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies... that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me," Bush added. He said the president was "wantonly poking the bear" as the US was trying to come to terms with years of sexual abuse and misconduct against leading figures in the media and entertainment industry. Mr Trump has denied any allegations against him of sexual misconduct and threatened to sue his accusers. (Webmaster's comment: But of course that never happened. He would have been found guilty!)
12-4-17 China closes school 'teaching women to be obedient'
Chinese authorities have shut down an institute that was teaching women to be obedient and subordinate to men. The education bureau said the institute, which claimed it taught "traditional virtues", had violated socialist core values. An online video showed lecturers speaking out against gender equality, while other advice to women included not fighting back when being beaten. China has seen a rise in similar institutes in recent years. The viral video posted by news website Video Pear shows teachers at the Fushun School of Traditional Culture telling women they should not attempt to have a career but "just stay at the bottom level". It urges women to unconditionally obey their fathers, husbands and sons. Other "advice" from the controversial school included never arguing when scolded and never divorcing. The teachers are also seen warning that if a woman has sex with more than three men, the semen becomes poisonous and might kill her. "Whatever your husband asks, your reply should be: 'Yes. Right away'" one lecturer tells his students. The video showed women doing domestic housework such as cleaning the floor and cleaning toilets using bare hands.
12-3-17 Metropolitan Opera investigates sex abuse claims against James Levine
New York's Metropolitan Opera says it has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the conductor James Levine. Mr Levine, 74, was music director at the Met for 40 years before retiring for health reasons in 2016. The New York Times said the claims were based on a 2016 police report in which a man accused Mr Levine of abusing him as a teenager in the 1980s. The Times said the Met had been aware of the report since last year. However, Mr Levine had denied the accusations and the Met had heard nothing further from police, the newspaper added. The accusations follow a series of sexual abuse and harassment claims made against high-profile figures in the entertainment industry. In a tweet, the Met said it was "deeply disturbed" by the claims published online and was investigating "with outside resources" in order to take appropriate action. An Illinois police report, seen by the New York Times, said the alleged victim claimed that the abuse began in 1985 when he was 15 and Mr Levine was 41, and continued until 1993.
12-2-17 Egyptian lawyer jailed for saying women in ripped jeans should be raped
An Egyptian lawyer has been sentenced to three years in prison for saying that women who wear ripped jeans should be raped in punishment. Nabih al-Wahsh, a prominent conservative, was also fined 20,000 Egyptian pounds (£839; $1,130). The lawyer made the remarks on a TV panel show in October, during a debate on a draft law on prostitution. "Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?" he said. He added: "I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her." Mr Wahsh said that women who wore revealing clothing were "inviting men to harass them", and said "protecting morals is more important than protecting borders". The prosecutor brought charges against Mr Wahsh after a public outcry. The National Council for Women's Rights condemned the remarks, saying they were a "flagrant call" for rape, in violation of "everything in the Egyptian constitution". The council has now filed a complaint about the statement to the Supreme Council for Media Regulation about the broadcast which aired on 19 October. Mr Wahsh has previously called the Holocaust "imaginary" and declared himself a proud anti-Semite. "If I see any Israeli, I will kill him," he said during a separate TV panel show. In October last year, Mr Wahsh was involved in a TV studio brawl with a cleric, after the cleric suggested women should not necessarily have to wear a headscarf.
12-2-17 Triple talaq: India considers jail for 'instant divorce'
Husbands who attempt "instant divorce" could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India. The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying "talaq" (divorce) three times - in any form, including email or text message. It was declared unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since. The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women. The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation. It would explicitly ban "triple talaq", in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a "subsistence allowance" and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said. Those provisions have been made "to ensure that in case the husband asks the wife to leave the house she should have legal protection," it quoted a high-level official as saying. Under the current draft, people suspected of the offence would not be eligible for bail. It would also ban the practice in any form - including in writing, or by text message.
12-2-17 How Tunisian women are fighting for their rights
In a building tucked away on a dusty street in Tunis's Lafayette neighborhood, a classroom full of a dozen young Tunisian women listen to lectures amid bursts of laughter on a spring day earlier this year. The group is a diverse mix of women sporting smartly tucked headscarves, brightly colored blazers, and fitted jeans. One by one, they stand in front of the classroom and explain to their peers why they want to pursue politics. This is their first training at Aswat Nissa's academy where Tunisian women learn the tools they need to enter politics in the country's young democracy. Aswat Nissa was founded by Ikram Ben Said in the spring of 2011, which was quickly followed by the complementary Women's Political Academy in 2012. Aswat Nissa trains women from the entire political spectrum, from Islamists to secularists. The goal: Continue to advance women's rights by empowering women to be political leaders. Tunisia has been at the forefront of women's rights in the Arab world for decades, dating back to the country's founding. The 1956 Code of Personal Status, implemented by Tunisia's first president, outlawed polygamy and forced marriages and allowed equal divorce rights for men and women. At the time, this guaranteed some of the widest protections and rights to women in the Arab world. However, throughout the reign of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, women's rights often left out religious Tunisian women. "Our oppressive regime was not just politically oppressive, curtailing people's human rights and political freedoms," said Mariem Masmoudi, a political activist, "but it was also religiously very oppressive, [it] closed down mosques [and] forbade women from choosing to wear the headscarf." When Tunisia's street protests in 2011 snowballed into the country's Jasmine Revolution that overthrew Ben Ali, triggering the Arab Spring protests throughout the region, women activists from all sides of the political spectrum took on leading roles in the transition away from autocracy and into democracy.
12-1-17 Why women fear a backlash over #MeToo
That whispering you hear from American women right now? It's not elation, it's anxiety; the fear of a backlash. Just two months since the Harvey Weinstein accusations emerged, women here are already concerned that this revolution will indeed eat its own. This is a surprisingly controversial topic, because even raising a potential backlash against the #MeToo movement smacks of appeasement, of wanting to let predators off the hook. There are women who say it's been so unfair for so long that if a few innocent men get wrongfully accused, that's a price they are happy to pay. I'm a lot more comfortable with the first half of that sentiment than the second. To be clear, no one wants to stop this movement, we want to to keep it alive in a way that creates safe work places and ends up helping women, rather than hurting us. Publicity and exposure are helping to change the culture, but the power of this seismic shift must be harnessed with care. This is not a witch hunt. The biggest backlash risk is a fake accusation that will undermine genuine accusers. Whether for personal, vindictive reasons or for political, strategic reasons, a woman will falsely accuse a high profile man of sexual misconduct, the story will get attention and then when it's proven to be fake, the backlash will begin. The response will quickly be: "You see, all these stories aren't true. Women are making it up." The next fear is that men will get so nervous that they're going to be accused of harassment that they will simply stop hiring, meeting or socialising with female colleagues. There are reports this is already happening. We will get shut out of the room where important decisions are made because men fear our presence? How ironic would that be?
12-1-17 US soldier accuses Al Franken of groping her in Kuwait
A US army veteran is accusing Senator Al Franken of having touched her breast while posing for a photo on a 2003 tour to entertain troops in Kuwait. Stephanie Kemplin, a 27-year-old military police officer at the time, says she was left feeling frozen. She is the fifth woman to have accused Mr Franken of inappropriate touching. Referring to the latest accusation, Mr Franken's spokesperson told CNN that he "has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct". "As Sen Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people... He remains fully committed to co-operating with the ethics investigation," the spokesperson said. In a press conference on his return to Washington earlier this week, the Minnesota Democrat said he was "ashamed" of his past behaviour. "I was in a warzone," she recalled in a tearful interview, questioning whether the former comedian had come to "boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own". "When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast," she said. "He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," she said, adding that she felt "embarrassed" afterwards. "And I remember thinking - is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand. "It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I'm very confident saying that."
12-1-17 ‘Today’ host fired
NBC News fired Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behavior” this week, making the longtime Today host the latest high-profile man to lose his job over harassment allegations. NBC News President Andrew Lack said in a statement the network fired Lauer, who has been co-host since 1994, shortly after it received a “detailed complaint” about Lauer’s behavior and determined that it “may not have been an isolated incident.” Variety reported that Lauer allegedly exposed himself to a female colleague and reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act. He allegedly gave another a sex toy along with an explicit note. Several women said they complained to NBC executives about Lauer’s behavior but were ignored because Lauer continued to attract high ratings. Lauer’s colleagues found out about the firing shortly before Today went live on Wednesday. “I’m heartbroken,” co-host Savannah Guthrie said on air, her voice shaking.
12-1-17 Uma Thurman sends warning
Uma Thurman sent a warning to Harvey Weinstein and his “wicked conspirators” over Instagram this week, suggesting that she’s ready to share her own experiences with the disgraced movie mogul. “I said I was angry recently, and I have a few reasons, #metoo, in case you couldn’t tell by the look on my face,” Thurman posted underneath a photo of herself as the vengeful assassin in Kill Bill. Thurman has starred in seven productions with Miramax, the production studio founded by Weinstein, including the Kill Bill series and Pulp Fiction. Addressing Weinstein directly, Thurman said, “I’m glad it’s going slowly. You don’t deserve a bullet.”
12-1-17 Masseuse assaults
More than 180 women nationwide have accused therapists working at Massage Envy—by far the largest chain of massage franchises in the country—of sexual assault, BuzzFeed.com reported this week. The accusations were made in lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints over the past 15 years, according to public records. One of the victims told BuzzFeed how a Massage Envy therapist at a West Chester, Pa., location groped her and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. When she reported the incident, the manager refused to pull the therapist out of a session with another female client. The therapist later pleaded guilty to molesting nine women. The Scottsdale-based corporate headquarters of the spa chain, which has nearly 1,200 locations, says it is not liable for sexual assaults that take place at franchises, and requires franchise owners only to conduct internal investigations of abuse claims.
12-1-17 Congress’ growing sexual harassment scandals
Rep. John Conyers refused to resign but stepped down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee this week as pressure increased on lawmakers to reform the secretive way Congress handles sexual harassment accusations. The Michigan representative, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least four women, allegedly paid $27,000 to settle claims with one of his accusers out of his congressional office’s funds. He denies any wrongdoing. Since 1997, Congress has paid out $17.2 million in 264 confidential settlements from a separate congressional fund. “It was a system set up in 1995 to protect the harasser,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who’s proposing legislation to end secret settlements. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was criticized harshly for appearing to defend Conyers on Meet the Press, saying he was a civil rights “icon” who deserved “due process.” Pelosi later said she had talked to and believed one of Conyers accusers; behind closed doors, she’s said to be leaning on the 88-year-old to resign. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) returned to the Senate this week in the wake of accusations that he forcibly kissed a woman and groped several others. Franken said he would cooperate with an Ethics Committee investigation. “I’ve let a lot of people down,” Franken said, “I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust.”
12-1-17 Sixty percent of American women say they have been sexually harassed
60% of American women say they have been sexually harassed. Of those who’ve been harassed, 69% say the harassment occurred at work, while 43% say that it happened in a social setting and 45% on the street. 55% of American voters say people have a “better understanding” of sexual harassment due to the recent media attention on the sexual misconduct of elected officials and celebrities.
12-1-17 Harassment scandal: How to draw lines
Almost two months after Harvey Weinstein was outed as a serial sexual predator, “idols are falling so fast it’s hard to keep track,” said Masha Gessen in NewYorker.com. Dozens of prominent men have already “lost jobs, deals, film roles, and more,” and there are scores of others facing accusations. In the court of public opinion, the “burden of proof” has clearly shifted “from the accuser to the accused.” Most people are cheering this cultural sea change, but there’s a serious danger of overreaction—“a sex panic.” In our eagerness to root out all harassers, the “presumption of innocence” is vanishing. It wouldn’t be the first time Americans have overreacted to “vaguely defined and wildly exaggerated” sexual threats, said Christina Hoff Sommers in the New York Daily News. We had a gay panic in the 1950s, with thousands of federal workers forced out of their jobs; in the 1980s, “a panic over satanic abuse in day-care centers put many innocent people in prison.” If we don’t distinguish between “truly unacceptable behavior and lesser annoyances,” men will fear any workplace interaction with women. Well, that was predictable, said Caitlin Flanagan in TheAtlantic.com. Saying there’s “a sex panic” because women are finally rebelling against “having their asses grabbed” is no different than the Mad Men–era men complaining that women who slapped away their unwanted advances were “frigid” or “uptight.” Exposing men who treat women’s bodies as playthings is not “a witch hunt”—it’s a necessary and long-overdue corrective to an endemic problem. A lot of men say they no longer know where the line is, said Christine Emba in The Washington Post. It’s simple: Don’t hit on or touch co-workers and subordinates. Stop thinking of every attractive woman as a possible sexual conquest. Maybe that means a less sexualized culture, but it’s a small price to pay to allow women “to exist unmolested in their workplace.”
12-1-17 Project Veritas’ biggest exposé yet
Project Veritas set out to prove that The Washington Post prints “fake news,” said Conor Friedersdorf. Instead, it showed how real journalists and a great newspaper really work. Right-wing activist James O’Keefe, who founded Project Veritas to conduct undercover “stings” designed to embarrass journalists and liberal organizations, recently tried to trick the Post into running a fake story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. A woman named Jaime Phillips contacted the newspaper, claiming that when she was 15 Moore impregnated her and then took her for an abortion. Phillips was actually a Project Veritas plant sent by O’Keefe, who assumed drooling Post reporters would jump on the sensational story and print it, and reveal their animus toward Moore during interviews Phillips covertly videotaped. “The premise proved incorrect.” The Post assigned multiple staffers to vet Phillips’ story, grew suspicious, and turned up evidence that her story was bogus and that she worked for Project Veritas. Instead of conceding that the Post passed his test, O’Keefe used his humiliating failure as an excuse to ask conservative donors for more funding. In 2016, O’Keefe paid himself an “eye-popping” salary of $317,691 for his “nonprofit” work as a partisan hatchet man. As we now know, it’s nothing but a big con.
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