Confronting Tough Questions Following the #MeToo Movement

Bill Cosby is a convicted felon. A jury has declared him guilty of three counts of indecent sexual assault.

If you’d told me a few years ago that I would one day be writing lines like that about the actor called “America’s Favorite Dad” I would have thought you were nuts. But there it is. The first post #MeToo trial conviction and, I daresay, it probably won’t be the last.

Producer Harvey Weinstein is still being investigated for multiple sexual crimes in both California and New York. Actor Kevin Spacey is under continued investigation in Los Angeles and London after several claims of sexual assault.  Following Cosby’s conviction Weinstein and Spacey should be worried – very worried. The social attitude on groping, grabbing and forced sexual contact has definitely evolved to one of zero tolerance.

Now the conversation has turned to this question: What about all the other accused men who are not headed to court?  What status do we afford men like TV personalities Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose who were forced out of their jobs and publicly shamed following charges of serious sexual transgressions?

And this is not just about celebrities who have fallen from grace. What is next for all the other men — from CEO’s and symphony conductors to tech-execs and politicians – who now wear the modern-day Scarlett Letter?

Yes, they selfishly acted with lust in their hearts and without concern for others. They caused humiliation and, in too many cases, forced victims to abandon their careers rather than face another day of harassment.  But after the aggressor’s public flogging, their loss of employment and maybe their marriages should their exile from polite society be permanent or is there a path to redemption for serial sexual harassers?

Journalist Katie J. M. Baker has written extensively about sexual assault movements including the one that forced university administrators to confront their response to reports of rape. Baker quoted a young man in 2014 who was kicked off campus following his sexual misconduct.

“At first, I thought they didn’t want me to participate in campus activities,” he said. “Then I thought they didn’t want me to graduate. Now they don’t want me to have a job or be part of society. Do they want me to commit suicide…is that the end game?”

His question is important and goes to the crux of today’s conversation. How long do we ostracize the abusers? How much punishment is enough? Do we ever accept the idea that once caught and exposed the perpetrator might see the error of their past ways and repent?

I say it depends on the individual’s original actions and their follow up after being outed.

There have been a wide range of sexual misconduct allegations in the news the last six months.  What dozens of women have accused Cosby of and what he was found guilty of – deliberately drugging a young woman in 2004 and taking full sexual advantage – is much different than, say, the boorish comments and clumsy advances of a boss at the holiday office party.  Yet there seems to be a move to lump all the accused under one umbrella and permanently banish them. That’s not fair. There are degrees of abuse.

Seeking character growth and redemption is a personal thing.  I doubt it can be achieved the way Charlie Rose has reportedly been planning.  The idea has been floated that he return to the national airways to interview men who, like him, have been accused of sexual harassment.  Such a program would feature Rose speaking to the likes of comedian Louis C.K. (accused of exposing himself to unwilling females,) the aforementioned Matt Lauer (accused of taking sexual advantage of underlings) or other high-profile types who have reacted badly to their hormonal urges.

While some are aghast at the idea of a comeback plan I’m wondering if it might not be a positive step. It could be like a modern day televised pillory where the fallen could publicly admit their sins and ask for forgiveness. Such a program might start a whole different dialogue about why aggressors ever felt they had the right to violate others.

I think forgiveness can only come after the perpetrator takes private time to sincerely reflect on his or her behavior and should only be granted after a heartfelt admission of guilt and a promise to become better person.

In some of the carefully crafted written statements the accused released after they were exposed there were vows to retreat for personal reflection. I wonder if any of them reached honest enlightenment about the true impact of their behavior?

As there are degrees of abuse there are probably degrees of understanding among aggressors. Take Bill Cosby, for example. I wonder if he came to any realizations while listening to the testimony of five women who swore he sexually assaulted them? His attorney insists he did nothing wrong and will appeal. For some there is no enlightenment.



  1. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:29 am

    ABQ Journal Reader DL writes:

    I have never written in response to anything in the newspaper before, but you asked a question in this article that I felt needed a response.
    You asked “how long do we ostracize the abusers? How much punishment is enough?”
    My husband is a registered sex offender. He was convicted 27 years ago of inappropriately touching his daughter when she was 12. He spent his time in prison and now must register for the rest of his life. Just so you know, we have a wonderful relationship with her and her family, including allowing her kids to stay with us for the summer.
    His situation is like being a leper in biblical times. Everywhere you go, you must cry “Unclean! Unclean!”. When you apply for a job, a place to live, if you want to go to school, you are required to tell everyone that you are an SO. We moved to New Mexico in 2007. Since then, we had a new neighbor print his info off the state registry and pass it out in our neighborhood – that has happened twice, and the reason we know is we had one neighbor both times tell us they thought it was wrong. We had to talk to the pastor before we could start attending church. And even doing that didn’t keep us from being ostracized at 2 churches – we are now at yet another church, hoping we will be allowed to stay and not have to start that search again.
    When we started dating, his PO talked to me. I told him if God had forgiven him, how could I do less? God has forgiven my husband, but people will not.
    When the answers to your questions apply to SO registrants, you let me know.

    • Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Thank you so much for writing. Several of my past columns have dealt with the unfairness of the situation you’ve described. My heart goes out to you and your family, DL.

      Your dilemma is the same as the one now faced by the countless people who have been unmasked as sexual harrassers or assaulters. I say forgiveness for those who prove they’ve turned their lives around is a necessity. It is the basis for all Christian/Judea teachings.

      That churches have turned you and your husband away is, in my opinion, unconcionable. ~DD

  2. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Reader Alexander Hovenkamp writes:

    Ma’am, these subject will never be addressed properly in any shape, way nor form.
    Not as long as women that are real victims of sexual assault lie in court under oath. Research news articles about Cole in Texas. An innocent man that suffocated to death in a room full of air in a Texas prison, sent there because a victim identified him in front of a jury, not because she know him but only due to cops telling her he was the one.
    Women that are victims lie, women who aren’t victims do lie for many reasons, women who aren’t victims, don’t see themselves as victims, say they aren’t victims but are made so by the system are made to lie so to protect someone from a ‘witch hunt’.
    Is Cosby guilty? I’d have to go over everything, including everything that the law kept from the jury at both trials. That means that the ‘rape shield’ would have to be set aside and no victim or supposed victim will allow that.
    Please remember two things about criminal trails: 1-professional jurors; 2-the 12 dumbest people in a court room are in the jury box.
    On a secondary note: a man guilty, beyond all doubt, of murder of the innocent, on parole, will retain employment, a residence, etc. in rejoining society, rebuilding his life, his world ……. long before any man convicted of any type of sexual offense.
    You’re educated, smart, successful, listened to ….. please don’t jump into the abyss of this subject matter. Whether you yourself (odds are that you are) have suffered at the hands of a predator or have been blessed to not have come to the sick attention of an animal, until you are very well versed in the subject …… you are harmful.
    Thank you for your time & attention. Good day.
    Man In A Cage.

    • Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Sir, I could not disagree with you more. I struggled trying to decide whether to post this comment at all. But being a vehement defender of the First Amendment I decided to give you your public say.

      To insinuate that ALL women get on the stand and lie about sexual assault is just about the most ill informed thing I’ve ever had a reader write to me. How absurd! Have you got any idea how painful it is for a woman to publicly discuss intimate details – and to submit themselves to the oftentimes brutal cross examination of a defense attorney? You obviously have no idea.

      Also, your opinion that the stupidest people in a court room are the jurors is an offense to the justice system. I wonder what would happen if YOU ever needed a jury to decide your situation? Your obvious scorn would surely seep through to the panel designated to rule on your fate.

      About the only thing I can agree with you is that a person (yes, some sexual predators are women) labeled as a sex offender is tainted for life – while we allow killers to serve time and go free, forgiven of their past offense.

      And finally, I AM HARMFUL because of what I wrote in this column? Really? I would submit, sir, that your opinions as stated above are far more harmful to more than half the population – women – who are the most vulnerable to sexual harrassment and assault. ~ DD

  3. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Facebook Friend Daniel B. Morgan writes:

    May his (Cosby) mortal soul rot in hell !…………………..

  4. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

    Simple answer…
    How long would you punish someone that did that to your daughter or wife???

  5. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Facebook Friend Danielle Stewart writes:

    Forgiveness is something you have to do to move on for yourself. Doesn’t make what they did right. It helps the victim move forward.
    My dad abused me. I forgave him, but he is no longer in my life.

  6. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Facebook Friend Eddie Emmons writes:

    Americans love vengeance….not the purpose of jail time or the law itself…

  7. Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Facebook Friend Chris Darden writes:

    Who will say? Folks are afraid to say anything but I support the victims. Which I do also. You can be merciful without forgiveness. And forgiveness is a personal individual spiritual matter. You cannot place a time limit in it.

    • Diane Dimond on May 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Facebook Friend Charlene Faris replies:

      Well said, Chris Darden. What Cosby did is just a notch down from murder. Actually, since (he) drugged the women, someone could have died from the drug.

  8. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Facebook Friend Sandi Chaykin Teller on when to forgive these perps:

    Never that’s the consequence !

    • Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Facebook Friend Susan Silver replies:

      Not when the victim’s number more than 2!!!!

      • Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

        Sandi Chaykin Teller replies:

        I say more than 1

        • Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

          Susan Silver replies:

          Well i’m trying to be cautious with corroboration

  9. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Facebook Friend Carol Berman writes:

    Look at that smug grin on his face. He destroyed many lives. Now he has to pay the piper..although he still thinks he has done nothing wrong. So will he ever truly repent?

  10. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Facebook Friend Joanna Barouch writes:

    James Levine instantly disappeared on Dec.2, 2017, immediately after a concert I attended. He is persona non grata at the Met, and Sirius radio’s Metropolitan Opera channel does not play his recordings. This last is what I have a real problem with because not only have they erased the man who made the Met what it is today, but all of the performers on those recordings. Many of them have died, so it’s as though they’ve been erased too. This topic is batted around on the Facebook opera pages, as you might expect. There is no clear consensus. He is suing the Met for multi-muillions of dollars and for more than one reason. I notice none of the other men have been suing any of the women, or have they?
    Re jurors: I’ve twice served on a jury. Some were academics, some manual laborers an there was Everything in between. I wonder if that guy ever served on a jury or tried to wiggle out of it. My guess is the latter.

  11. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Facebook Friend Ronald Jeffries Tallman writes:

    Prosecute and jail them.

  12. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Facebook Friend Lawrence Kobilinsky writes:

    Forever. Life in Prison. No.

  13. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Facebook Friend Bonnie Ramsay writes:

    How long is long enough? How long before they feel real remorse, if ever? Because in my mind, as a victim of someone else and they’re sexual abuse, that was where my thoughts always went. Putting aside how long the law thought they should serve, putting aside how many times a day I did or didn’t think about it and scream and cry. The true measure of long enough was if/ when they would actually acknowledge what they had done and the pain they had caused.

  14. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Facebook Friend Charlene Faris writes:

    The majority of perps, murderers, thieves, etc. are sociopaths, psychopaths, or they have a convoluted array of severe mental disorders. Guilt, remorse, penitence, you will never see those from these criminals. They have no ability to feel remorse. They do not care and never will. One could try forever to figure it out, and one can’t. Often, the experts are stumped. So we lay people can’t, is impossible. Like Chris Darden who has seen things, worked with people so heartless it feels unreal, forgiveness is not something I can truly reach even, like he said, if we still have mercy.

  15. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Facebook Friend William Drummond writes:

    Restorative justice is the answer. It works.

  16. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Diane Dimond replies:

    But would the likes of Louie CK or Matt Lauer submit to that?

    • Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Facebook Friend Carmen Matthews replies: To submit to that, wouldn’t the offender have to put his ego aside, and look at the harm from the family’s position?

      Would Cosby even remotely approach that, given how he and his family are trying to use race as a shield?

  17. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Facebook Friend Catherine Whitney writes:

    Catherine Whitney And while we’re asking that question, ask this one: What about the women who have been fired, blacklisted or ostracized because they reported sexual harassment or refused advances? Why aren’t we asking when they can get their jobs back?

    • Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Diane Dimond replies:

      Very good point, Catherine!! Think of all the women who quit jobs and abandoned careers. But how to fix that year’s later??

  18. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Donna R. Gore writes:

    It is a complex question with shades of gray responses. We will never achieve consensus for every person’s tolerance, and level of forgiveness is different. I don’t forgive Bill- not because he appears to be a pathetic old man who is trying to talk his way out of everything with his arrogance…but because he has no remorse, nor takes responsibility. That’s it -the R words should be the key to redemption! A few years ago, I wrote a piece on him as a homicide survivor with his son Ennis (who achieved much despite years of struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia). Bill was too arrogant to get him tested and gave him music lessons instead! Compelling feature as always, Diane!

  19. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Harry Netchel writes:

    These criminals don’t care about normal society. No conscious . He’ll fit right in, in prison. Right at home..

  20. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Zachary Taylor Martin writes:

    My mom was murdered by a serial murderer. He is in prison for the rest of his life. I don’t hate the man. Hating is the issue.

  21. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Twitter Pal an@Bee_Happening writes on possibility of a comeback:

    I think their careers should be over. They destroyed other people’s (women’s) careers earlier than theirs were finished (once they were exposed). They also affected multiple women’s lives.

  22. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Facebook Friend Chuck Burkhart writes:

    I grew up being sexually abused and I didn’t come out with it until I 19 years old and even though I have moved on from it you still can’t forget!

  23. Diane Dimond on May 9, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Facebook Friend Shaunna Carey Gage writes:

    So proud of these men and their courage to speak out on such traumatizing matters…

  24. Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Facebook Friend Wendei Melnick Smith writes:

    Forgiveness is for the victim not the abuser. We forgive so that WE can move on with our lives and let go of the pain they caused. As far as I’m concerned having been a victim and survivor, there is no amount of punishment that is enough. As a victim of childhood abuse, it’s with me forever. I think the statute of limitations need to be lifted as this type of abuse affects people for the rest of their lives. And just like Megan’s Law – serial abusers should be ostracized forever.

  25. Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Facebook Friend Dan Aaron writes:

    Would anyone here actually support Bill Cosby making a comeback?

    • Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Diane Dimond replies:

      Ummmmm. Anyone? Hello? Hello? ~Crickets ~

      • Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:29 pm

        Dan Aaron replies to Diane:

        Thank goodness no one seems to be in support of that.

  26. Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Facebook Friend Dan Dominick Mahan writes:

    The victims of his crimes will most likely never forgive him ? That type of crime doesn’t deserve forgiveness! The public rarely if ever forgives this type of crime ! He really should be sitting in his cell and not his mansion !! Remember if he was a younger man the public would be demanding a hanging !! His age has some what swayed the public to settle for prison time wich most of us believe won’t be the full 30 year sentence! Most likely 6 years I’m guessing

    • Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Dan Aaron replies to Dan Dominick Mahan:

      And hopefully he’ll die in prison and then afterwards he remembered for the scumbag that he is.

      • Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm

        Dan Dominick Mahan replies:

        I don’t believe he would survive in prison more then 3 years

        • Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:31 pm

          Betty Carr replies:

          I agree Dan Dominic Mahan

  27. Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Facebook friend Polly Franks writes re: How long do we ostrasize someone who has been convicted:

    How about forever?

  28. Diane Dimond on May 15, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Facebook Friend Jean Jerry writes:

    Why isn’t he in jail? Why no sentencing date?

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