The court of public opinion is now in session.
The law differentiates between harassment at work and harassment in public.
At work, harassment is conduct – including that of a sexual nature – from another that makes you feel your dignity has been violated or intimidated, or creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
Recently, there have been a number of people, mainly women, who have made allegations against the film producer, Harvey Weinstein. A number of other actors have also had allegations made against them, including Kevin Spacey, who allegedly sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp when he was 14 years old.
In a statement posted on his Twitter page, Mr Spacey said;
"I honestly do not remember the encounter... but if I did behave then as he describes I owe him the sincerest apology."
As every good lawyer knows, the best way to test any evidence is by cross examination. As of yet, no evidence has been tested but the realistic chances of anyone in such a position as Weinstein receiving an unbiased trial following the extent of the media scrutiny would be slim. I am not making a judgement on whether the allegations are true or not, but I am concerned that we are heading towards the modern version of public medieval flogging, when we as a society are supposed to have evolved. That said, the issues raised are emotional and extremely personal to those who have voiced their allegations.
Some have described this outpouring of allegations as a watershed moment, where society as a whole agrees that certain treatments are unacceptable. Some would even suggest that these allegations have assisted the majority of people in coming forward with their own claims. It has also raised the issue of sexual harassment within all workplaces, whether in the public eye or not. Since the Weinstein allegations there have been others, from a variety of walks of life – including those in government and the media – who have come forward and spoken out in a similar fashion.
The concerns over such allegations being widely reported before any formal investigation or proceedings are still serious. Both the victims and the perpetrators are better served by a robust, transparent investigation process coupled with a similar court process. This way, true allegations are processed and the perpetrators are found out and prosecuted.
If you, or anyone you know requires confidential legal advice on this topic, contact Rubin Italia at email@example.com or on 020 31143 1129.
Author Rubin Italia is a Director of Duncan Lewis Solicitors’ Crime department, based in the firm’s Harrow branch. Rubin is a highly regarded criminal lawyer, ranked in the Chambers and Partners 2017/18 guide, and listed as a Recommended Lawyer in the Legal 500, 2017 Edition. His extensive criminal defence experience means he is considered a key contact for many criminal matters, and he has been involved in a wealth of criminal areas, from counter-terrorism, to the London Riots, to serious drug offences.
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