Miriam Mayer says sexual abuse should not be normalized or accepted. To share, click the link icon in the bottom right to continue the conversation.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy had some harsh words Tuesday for the high-profile individuals in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere who have sexually harassed women and tried to silence their victims.
“We have had far too many instances of sexual harassment,” the Louisiana Republican said in a speech from the Senate floor. “We’ve seen it in Hollywood, repeatedly. I don’t know how the actors in Hollywood have time to make movies. They’re too busy molesting each other.”
“But it’s not just in Hollywood. It’s all across society. It’s in the halls of Congress. It’s in the halls of state government. It’s in the board room. It is all across America.”
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Kennedy plans to introduce a bill called the Stop Silencing Victims Act, which he said addresses “the abuse of nondisclosure agreements across government.” The law would prohibit a state or federal employee from including an NDA in a sexual harassment settlement, unless one is requested by the victim.
Nondisclosure agreements: Sexual harassment went unchecked for decades as payouts silenced accusers
The #MeToo movement helped many victims of sexual harassment come forward to tell their stories. It has led to the resignation and downfall of more than 100 entertainers, executives and politicians, including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey.
As the accusations came to light, the public learned in 2017 that a special Treasury Department fund had been used to settle a number of sexual harassment lawsuits against political figures. An obscure federal law helped keep those complaints and settlements private. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said some victims complained about feeling harassed during the mediation process and felt required to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
On Tuesday, Kennedy said under such NDAs “victims are silenced so voters can’t find out about this disgusting behavior.”
He thanked the women, who are “not always, but usually” the victims, for speaking out.
“This is no country for creepy old men, or for creepy young men, or for creepy middle age men or for anybody, man or woman, who would use his or her power to obtain sexual favors from somebody inferior to them in power in the workplace or otherwise.”
A number of politicians have been forced to step down over #MeToo allegations.
Former Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation in 2017 following accusations of sexual misconduct. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., also stepped down, along with Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who resigned amid reports he discussed with female staffers the possibility they could be surrogates for his and his wife’s baby.
President Donald Trump has been accused of making unwanted advances toward women. In an “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during the final weeks of the presidential campaign in 2016, Trump was heard making lewd comments and bragging about groping women’s genitals. Trump has denied the allegations.
Contributing: Deborah Barfield Berry and Deirdre Shesgreen
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