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When high-profile men are accused of sex misconduct, should they resign?

| Apr 13, 2021 | Criminal Justice |

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There have been two more high-profile sexual misconduct allegations recently, against GOP Representative Tom Reed of New York and Deshaun Watson, quarterback of the Houston Texans. In each case, a woman or women complained about the men’s aggressive sexual behavior. Each stands to lose a great deal from the allegations. Do they have the right to due process?

The Reed allegations

Representative Reed stands accused of unhooking a junior lobbyist’s bra and moving his hand up her thigh. At first, Reed denied the allegations, but he later acknowledged that, while he does not recall the events described, he does believe the woman complaining, according to NPR.

“I hear her voice and will not dismiss her. In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant,” he told reporters. “Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility.”

Reed also says that he was suffering from alcoholism at the time of the alleged assault. He has since received treatment. In keeping with that treatment, Reed says, “I publicly take ownership of my past actions, offer this amends and humbly apologize again to Ms. Davis, my wife and kids, loved ones, and to all of you.”

Reed called on Governor Cuomo to be impeached after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were made public. Reed, himself, has announced he will not seek public office in 2022, but he has not resigned.

The Watson allegations

ESPN wrote a long-form article about the allegations involving Deshaun Watson. In it, they outlined Watson’s reputation as a philanthropist and all-around nice guy. However, he is now accused of exposing himself to and/or sexually assaulting at least 23 massage therapists on separate occasions.

He is accused of seeking massages to his groin and buttocks and of brushing his erect penis against at least one therapist’s hand. In at least one instance, he is accused of forcing oral sex.

In Watson’s defense, 18 other women who worked with him say that he is too nice to be capable of the alleged assaults. They insist he has never made them feel anything but safe and comfortable.

Police are investigating. Several of Watson’s sponsors appear to be backing out. The Texans have not issued a statement.

Watson vigorously denies the allegations. So far, 22 of the woman have filed lawsuits against Watson.

These events bring up an important question. When men are credibly accused of sexual misconduct, should that be enough to force them to resign? Should mere allegations, however credible, be enough to end careers? Or should the consequences wait until a court of law rules? Surely, the accused deserve due process.

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