As allegations of sexual assault continually emerge, the fifth amendment seems to be getting ignored.
“I still have to think about the worst moment in my life when I go to sleep every night,” said Chloe Dykstra in an interview with Time Magazine a victim of sexual harassment who received much backlash after she posted her story online. “After months of reading horrible things about myself, I got to such a low point I considered ending [my life].”
This moment of horror involved Dykstra claiming to be sexually assaulted by her ex boyfriend, a filmmaker by the name of Chris Hardwick. After Dykstra published her claim, Hardwick’s fans immediately took to Twitter to dismantle her words and destroy her reputation.
She is just one of the thousands of women who have recently come out as victims of sexual harassment. Many of these women have reported thoughts of suicide, not only due to the awful repercussions of being assaulted, but the naysayers who dismiss their stories as categorically untrue and disingenuous. These deniers have discouraged victims from speaking out in the past, and have kept 63 percent of cases away from the authorities, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
These victims of sexual assault were recently empowered by the #MeToo movement, a cause that is based upon the notion that no woman should be embarrassed to tell her own account of harassment. At first a very powerful rallying cry, this once praised hashtag now yields a vast array of consequences for our nation. Such consequences have been compelling citizens to ask the question, “Has #MeToo gone too far?”
The past few days have given #MeToo a great victory and a terrible loss. On Sept. 25, 2018, Bill Cosby was finally sent to prison on a sentence of three to ten years. This guilty verdict came after the courts had dozens of women claim that he had drugged and raped them.
Although this sentencing was a triumphant win for the movement, the more concerning outcome has pushed it to the wayside. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has been recently accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a researcher at Palo Alto University.
Ford claims that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party in Maryland during the summer of 1982. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she said describing the alleged assault. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Despite an army of women in support of her claims, many have been questioning whether or not Kavanaugh has been treated fairly. Many of Ford’s supporters have already condemned Kavanaugh as an attempted rapist and a misogynist, have even disrupted his Senate hearings and have sent death threats to his wife. This has all been done without due process, a legal right endowed to all citizens by the fifth amendment.
This ignorance of due process, which declares innocence until proven guilty, is not unique to Kavanaugh’s current situation. The previously mentioned Hardwick lost his job almost immediately after his ex-girlfriend Dykstra posted her claim online.
After they fired Hardwick, NBC said, “these allegations about Chris Hardwick took us by surprise as we have had a positive working relationship with him. However, we take allegations of misconduct very seriously.”
Despite Hardwick’s preemptive firing, NBC claimed that “[they were] continuing to assess the situation and [would] take appropriate action based on the outcome.”
The investigation concluded this summer and officials found Hardwick innocent. He was given back his show “Talking Dead” on AMC this past August and also appeared as a guest judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
These cases are just a small amount of the many high-profile men whose reputations have been damaged.
As allegations continue to pop up during this #MeToo era let us be cognizant of facts, proof and evidence to ensure justice for victims of assault. With similar importance, let us also avoid being dragged into the all too easy “he said, she said” mentality where we end up placing the wrong people out of a job or in prison. If we fail to do so, future generations will abdicate the power of logic and reason and replace it with emotion and impulse.