On CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday, Howard Kurtz spoke to Daily Beast contributor Lauren Ashburn. She wrote a story last week about Herman Cain’s accusers. She also described her own history of being sexually harassed, with incidents ranging from rude to offensive.
On CNN, Ashburn talked about how these allegations must be taken seriously. Of course, they are getting a serious amount of air time. I wonder how you take a charge that is hard to prove and even harder to disprove seriously enough. Sexual harassment charges are hard to prove when they happen. Karen Kraushaar was given a significant amount of money when she left. Did she leave because the association would not reprimand Herman Cain? Did they pay her off because a lawsuit would cost more than $45,000 even if it was decided in their favor? Did Kraushaar file a sexual harassment complaint at her next job because she’s litigious or because she’s one of the women who’s willing to speak up?
In a legal sense, Herman Cain is innocent until proven guilty. A court would not ask him to prove he did not sexually harass one or more women. They would need to provide some evidence. Kraushaar would need to unseal the complaint. Sharon Bialek would need to at least show that she and Cain were in a car together on the night that she described in a press conference. At the same time, those hurdles make it easier for harassers to hide their crimes, along with women who are either ashamed or ignored when they are harassed.
Some women (and men to a lesser extent) are making a judgement based on the number of stories. I don’t like the idea that a sufficient number of false claims are all that’s needed to make a charge credible. Most presidential candidates are accused of sexual impropriety at some point, but Politico never talked to Vera Baker. They have been on top of every allegation against Herman Cain, even accusers 2, 3 and 5, but number 5 may not exist.
When Lauren Ashburn ends another article like this, I doubt Herman Cain will be treated justly.
Based on what women tell me and what I’ve experienced firsthand, there are a lot more creepy men out there than we ever realized. Maybe it’s time we do something about it.