Today while discussing his recent gold medal win, a press person asked if Shaun White had sexually abused a woman in his band. Lena Zawaideh claimed that White had refused to pay her and further sexually harassed her filing a civil suit which was later settled.
White did admit that he sent the woman sexually suggestive text messages and had watched pornography with her in the past but that there wasn’t any impropriety, both being of adult age and both consenting.
The main issue here is that we as a society have become completely unhinged by the current movements with regard to sexual harassment and abuse.
What many seem to forget is that allegations are not indictments or proof of guilt and that people have the right to due process to prove their innocence. Not to be presumed guilty and then attacked, reputation destroyed by an overzealous press or vengeful adversary.
The media in its “Dirty Laundry” fashion really doesn’t care about the truth or veracity of an accusation and consequently treats any rumor, water cooler statement and un-named source as fact. Hardly fair reporting or fair dealing to a person who might be the victim of a false statement or report. And many false reports have been lodged against innocent people with devastating results.
The main point is, if a person claims to have been sexually abused or that they’ve been a victim of sexual harassment, they have the right to report the incident to the proper authorities for investigation and possible prosecution. However, they do not have the right to make negative or disparaging statements to the press or media prior to that investigation being brought to fruition. If they do, and the person being accused is innocent, there must be remedy for the damage, in some cases total ruin of the innocent persons life and family.
We do need to be sensitive to those real victims of sexual abuse and harassment but not at the cost of another citizens civil rights being violated.
Legislation must be written for these very protections providing for severe prosecutions of anyone providing false statement of sexual abuse including those in the press and media who through leaks, innuendo, rumor or false statements cause another to be damaged irreparably by those false allegations. As we have witnessed, the media has lately become a cesspool of false reporting and prone to sensationalized reports spun to give impact to a story and in most cases based on unsubstantiated information.
Until we do, many innocent, “Good” people will be destroyed by false statements and lies by irresponsible media, false news reporting or angry people claiming to be victims believing they will get revenge for a perceived misdeed.
Our congress should be seriously looking into this issue and checking abuses of the first amendment by a ratings crazed media with an agenda all their own.