sexual assault and harassment | KUOW News and Information

sexual assault and harassment

UPDATE (Feb. 6, 10:27 p.m. PST) — An investigation into behavior by Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, released Tuesday states Kruse had a pattern of "engaging in unwelcome physical contact toward females in the workplace."

Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. A Boston newspaper published allegations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and forced kissing. For the most part, the complaints went nowhere.

In 2017, more women came forward with accusations. This time, everybody listened.

On this episode of Hidden Brain, we explore the story through the lens of social science and ask, "Why Now?"

berries
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

More women are speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment as part of the renewed #MeToo movement.

But for the women picking the fruits and vegetables we buy at local supermarkets, talking about daily abuse isn’t easy.

Hillary Clinton responded Tuesday night to revelations that she kept a senior adviser on her campaign staff in 2008, even after the adviser was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a subordinate colleague.

"The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn't," Clinton wrote online, in a seeming nod to the #MeToo movement of the last year.

Seattle City Hall
Flickr Photo/Daniel X. O'Neil (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1OGMTuh

The #MeToo movement has reached inside the City of Seattle, with city employees speaking out about sexism, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

As first reported by Crosscut, current and former city employees have formed a group called the Seattle Silence Breakers. Their purpose is to provide support to city employees and spur change.

Today on The Record we're looking at the #MeToo and Time's Up movements here in Washington state. How did we get here and what we can do next?

The Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal has now more fully ensnared Michigan State University, where the disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor — who has admitted to abusing multiple women and girls in his care — worked for two decades.

Jenny Durkan
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The city of Seattle is launching an extensive review of its workplace harassment and discrimination policies.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has ordered the formation of a team to make recommendations on anti-harassment training, reporting mechanisms and personnel rules for city employees.

Washington Department and Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth is resigning next month after three years on the job. He presided over a tumultuous time at the department.

Victims of sexual harassment are urging Washington lawmakers to take steps to make the workplace safer. At a public hearing Wednesday, lawmakers heard personal stories and a rare acknowledgment of past failures.

A former top official at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been convicted of breaking into the home of a colleague and raping her. The verdict Wednesday follows a lengthy trial in a case that revealed a sexualized workplace culture at WDFW.

Seattle City Hall
Flickr Photo/Daniel X. O'Neil (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1OGMTuh

Kim Malcolm talks with Crosscut reporter David Kroman about his investigation into the work culture at the city of Seattle's Human Resources department.

File photo
Flickr Photo/Modes Rodríguez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)https://flic.kr/p/jqyZJE

At the end of 2017, we posed a question to KUOW listeners on Facebook: Have you experienced increased anxiety or depression this year due to world events and stories in the news?

The responses poured in.

Washington lawmakers are taking steps to address sexual harassment at the state Capitol. The House passed a resolution Thursday to establish a task force on sexual harassment. Members will include lawmakers, lobbyists and staff.

Aziz Ansari seen at Netflix original series "Master of None" ATAS panel at the Wolf Theater at Saban Media Center on Monday, June 05, 2017, in Los Angeles, CA.
(Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Netflix/AP Images)

Recent allegations against actor Aziz Ansari have launched a thousand thinkpieces. Depending on your point of view, this is either a death knell to the #metoo movement or just another link in patriarchy's mighty armor.

When local author Katie Anthony first heard the story, her kneejerk reaction was, "Really? That's just a bad date — we've all been on them." 

The stories of sexual assault and harassment that emerged last year seemed to touch every industry — Hollywood, hotels, restaurants, politics and news organizations, including this one. Many of those stories focused on what happened, but most didn't or couldn't get to the question of why: Why do some people, mainly men, sexually harass their colleagues?

Psychologist John Pryor has been thinking about this for more than three decades, and he has created a test in an effort to measure a person's tendency to harass someone. It's called the "Likelihood to Sexually Harass Scale."

Last week, Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes brought many in the audience to tears and to their feet. She was accepting an award for contributions to the world of entertainment, but the billionaire broadcaster and philanthropist decided to use her moment to tell the story of a far less celebrated woman: Recy Taylor.

Washington State Capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Hayat Norimine, associate editor for Seattle Met's PubliCola, about a bill in the state legislature that would remove the statute of limitation on felony sex offenses. Right now victims in our state only have three years to pursue charges after a crime happens, or ten years if they reported the crime to the police in the first year after the crime was committed. This is one of the shortest statute of limitations for rape in the country. 

Editor's note: This report includes graphic and disturbing descriptions of sexual assault.

The victim couldn't tell anyone what happened that night. She was a woman with an intellectual disability who doesn't speak words. So the alleged rape was discovered, according to the police report, only by accident — when a staff worker said she walked into the woman's room and saw her boss with his pants down.

Editor's note: This report includes graphic and disturbing descriptions of assault.

Pauline wants to tell her story — about that night in the basement, about the boys and about the abuse she wanted to stop.

But she's nervous. "Take a deep breath," she says out loud to herself. She takes a deep and audible breath. And then she tells the story of what happened on the night that turned her life upside down.

"The two boys took advantage of me," she begins. "I didn't like it at all."

I shared my #MeToo for my daughter

Jan 7, 2018
Lauri Hennessey (top), Mimi Mahoney, Senator Bob Packwood, Julia Brim-Edwards, and Bobbi Munson. Shortly after this photo was taken, Hennessey joined Packwood's personal staff.
Courtesy Lauri Hennessey

There goes Hollywood again, leading from behind.

It's really funny how the entire world is now jumping on the Harvey Weinstein bandwagon (or off it, as it were). Yet Hollywood knew for many, many years about Weinstein's behavior. It was condoned. Again and again.

Lauri Hennessey was one of many anonymous women who accused Oregon Senator Bob Packwood of improper conduct in the 1990s.
Courtesy Lauri Hennessey

A powerful senator and public champion of women is accused of sexual harassment. As the number of accusers mounts, his fellow senators urge him to step down. Eventually the pressure is too great, and he resigns. 

We're not talking about Al Franken. We're talking about former Oregon senator Bob Packwood.

Public records released by Central Washington University this week show professor and GOP state Rep. Matt Manweller is barred from contacting past or present students while the school investigates allegations of sexual harassment against him.

A pair of underwear sold by Tiger Underwear, a Seattle-area company that has come under scrutiny for marketing images of boys wearing the underwear.
KUOW Photos/Megan Farmer

The story of how a Washington state company used boys in underwear to draw customers and the man with a secret past who tried to stop them.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

A Washington state representative denies sexually harassing anyone, but has resigned from his leadership position.

Do the results of the Alabama special election mean voters are turning away from Republicans? 

Updated at 9:48 a.m. ET

PBS will no longer distribute Tavis Smiley following what a spokeswoman called "multiple, credible" allegations of sexual misconduct uncovered by a recent investigation into the late-night show host's behavior.

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe that "a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment is essential to bringing about change in our society."

At a time when partisan opinions are so polarized on a range of issues, Republicans and Democrats are relatively similar in believing that society should crack down hard on sexual harassment, a new poll from Ipsos and NPR suggests.

The long and growing list of high-profile men losing their jobs amid sexual-harassment allegations speaks to a big cultural sea change. But is that shift driven by generational differences in how sexual harassment is viewed, or by bigger changes in the workplace?

Seattle executive consultant Kim Arellano has taught classes on generational differences, and says sexual harassment makes for the liveliest discussions.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, center, looks at election returns with staff during an election-night watch party at the RSA activity center, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala.
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, and others were swiftly fired after allegations against them broke. But Roy Moore came within 1.5 percent of being elected to the U.S. Senate. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is still on the bench. And Donald Trump is still in the White House, as was Bill Clinton following his own transgressions.

When it comes to claims of sexual misconduct, why are media figures being held to a higher standard than public officials?

Seattle writer Ijeoma Oluo
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Bill Radke talks to Laura Kipnis, author of the book "Unwanted Advances," and Ijeoma Oluo, Seattle writer and editor at large of the Establishment, about  power, behavior and how you change the culture around sexual harassment. 

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