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    How much did #MeToo change for women? Let’s ask Harvey Weinstein today – or Donald Trump | Marina Hyde

    According to his representatives, former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is still digesting the overturning of his rape conviction by a New York court, but they did come out to say he was “cautiously excited”. Cautiously excited? I’m not sure these are the words I’d alight on to paint a word-picture of a rapist. You might as well say “tentatively aroused”. Then again, as we’re about to discuss, quite a lot of guys don’t particularly have to worry about what they say or do, or how they say or do it. It’s only natural that Harvey should very much want to be one of them again.Speaking of word-pictures, though, how’s this for a vignette of our times? When they heard the news that Weinstein’s conviction had been overturned on Thursday, a whole host of reporters happened to be looking at the exact spot in the exact New York courtroom that he’d sat in when that original judgment had been handed down. This was because they were waiting for Donald Trump to sit in it for Thursday’s proceedings in his hush money trial. Mr Trump, you might recall, is in such a lot of trouble that he is the presumptive Republican nominee and current bookies’ favourite to win the US presidency again, though admittedly he lags behind Weinstein on the sexual assault and misconduct front, given that only 26 women have accused him of it. Ultimately, though, I guess the question is: if #MeToo “went too far”, what would “going just far enough” have looked like?In seeking to answer that question, I’m somehow picturing the Best Picture climax of this year’s Oscars, with lifetime dictator Donald J Trump opening the envelope and calling it for Oppenheimer, before cackling: “I’m kidding with you, Nolan – the award goes to The Passion of the Harvey. Come on up here, all the guys from the Weinstein Company. And, Louis, you did a beautiful job with the role. You can add this one to your latest Grammy.”Or hang on – maybe #MeToo going just far enough would just look like a supreme court justice who is credibly accused of sexual assault deliberating with his colleagues/fellow placemen on whether the president can commit crimes absolutely without consequences, and then them deciding that it’s honestly too hard to decide on for now, thus delaying the guy’s trial for trying to overturn the results of a democratic election. Because that one really happened, also on Thursday.View image in fullscreenNot to flit too giddily between courtrooms, but we should note that despite Thursday’s news, Weinstein’s rape conviction in a Californian court still stands. As for what went wrong with his New York trial, it includes the legal error of the trial judge’s decision to allow testimony from four women who were not directly part of the case in hand. Long story short: unfortunately, simply too many women told the court that Weinstein had sexually assaulted them, which has now rendered his sexual assault trial null and void. The whole thing will have to be run anew, forcing an approved selection of those women to have to testify all over again. And yes – we might all have a number of strong views about those who benefit from the vagaries of the US legal system, but quite often you can’t print those views over this side of the Atlantic because of the vagaries of the UK legal system. Maybe we all get the legal systems we deserve. Except lawyers. You can’t help feeling those guys are the one set of people reaping unjust deserts from the legal system.Anyhow, back to even more of Thursday’s court news coming out of New York, where another judge was also ruling against Trump’s appeal of the $83m defamation verdict in the case brought against him by the writer E Jean Carroll, who alleged he raped her in a department store changing room. Given Trump was in the aforementioned courtroom across town, it’s quite something to be able to say that the day nevertheless still turned out to be a net good one for him, what with the supreme court’s decision not to yet make a decision on whether he can stand trial on charges of conspiring to overthrow the election. Certainly it was news about which he could be cautiously excited.But perhaps not about which he could be completely surprised, given his supreme efforts to bend the court to his will. Only the day before, the court had been hearing the state of Idaho argue for a ban on abortion even in cases where it is required for health-saving care. Trump’s campaign trail rallies see him frequently and repeatedly boast of being the puppet master of the judgment that overthrew Roe v Wade, the 1973 supreme court judgment that protected federal abortion rights. And he’s arguably right about that, what with having appointed three justices to the court and upset a balance the rest of the world is supposed to regard as fabled. Obviously, Trump’s pride in the achievement means so much more coming from a man who I’d love to joke has probably paid for more abortions than there are compromised supreme court justices, even if legal discussions over retaining that statement in this column are likely to run to more time than it took to write the column.On balance, you couldn’t accuse Thursday of being a great day for Lady Justice – or indeed for lady justice. As it turns out, all the so-called reckonings of the past few years can be unreckoned with far more easily than they were won. The only thing that’s gone “too far” is the pretence that anything went far enough.
    Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist
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    #MeToo Stalled in France. Judith Godrèche Might Be Changing That.

    Judith Godrèche did not set out to relaunch the #MeToo movement in France’s movie industry.She came back to Paris from Los Angeles in 2022 to work on “Icon of French Cinema,” a TV series she wrote, directed and starred in — a satirical poke at her acting career that also recounts how, at the age of 14, she entered into an abusive relationship with a film director 25 years older than her.Then, a week after the show aired, in late December, a viewers’ message alerted her to a 2011 documentary that she says made her throw up and start shaking as if she were “naked in the snow.”There was the same film director, admitting that their relationship had been a “transgression” but arguing that “making films is a kind of cover” for forms of “illicit traffic.”She went to the police unit specialized in crimes against children — its waiting room was filled with toys and a giant teddy bear, she recalls — to file a report for rape of a minor.“There I was,” said Ms. Godrèche, now 52, “at the right place, where I’ve been waiting to be since I was 14.”Since then, Ms. Godrèche has been on a campaign to expose the abuse of children and women that she believes is stitched into the fabric of French cinema. Barely a week has gone by without her appearance on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers, and even before the French Parliament, where she demanded an inquiry into sexual violence in the industry and protective measures for children.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Why Is Sean Combs the Subject of a Homeland Security Investigation?

    The department has a division that often directs inquiries into sex trafficking allegations, like those cited in recent lawsuits against Mr. Combs.The raids of Sean Combs’s homes in Los Angeles and the Miami area this week raised a barrage of questions about the nature of the inquiry, which a federal official said was at least in part a human trafficking investigation.The government has said little about the basis for the search warrants, but the raids came after five civil lawsuits were filed against Mr. Combs in recent months that accused him of violating sex trafficking laws. In four of the suits women accused him of rape, and in one a man accused him of unwanted sexual contact. Mr. Combs, a hip-hop impresario known as Puff Daddy and Diddy who has been a high-profile figure in the music industry since the 1990s, has vehemently denied all of the allegations, calling them “sickening.” Officials have not publicly named him as a target of any prosecution.As the civil suits against Mr. Combs illustrate, the term human or sex trafficking has a broader meaning in the law than perhaps the more popularly understood image of organized crime and forced prostitution rings.“Traditionally you think of trafficking as a pimp who has a stable of victims and then is trafficking them in the traditional sense of the word, for money,” said Jim Cole, a former supervisory special agent with Homeland Security Investigations who oversaw human trafficking cases, “but there are lots of forms of trafficking.”The breadth of trafficking investigations has grown with the recent uptick in sexual abuse claims and the use of the internet by traffickers. Homeland Security Investigations often leads such criminal investigations, although the department is most commonly associated with immigration and transnational issues.In the current inquiry, federal investigators in New York have been interviewing potential witnesses about sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Combs for several months, according to a person familiar with the interviews. Some of the questions involved the solicitation and transportation of prostitutes, as well as any payments or promises associated with sex acts, the person said.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    New York Asks Realty Company to Investigate Sexual Assault Allegations

    The state comptroller wants eXp Realty to look into allegations that female real estate agents were drugged and assaulted during company events.The New York state comptroller has asked the real estate brokerage eXp Realty to open an independent investigation into sexual harassment and assault allegations exposed in a New York Times article last month.As New York’s chief fiscal officer, the comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, is the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. According to the most recent SEC filing, the pension fund held nearly 27,000 shares of eXp World Holdings, the publicly-held parent company of eXp Realty.In two separate lawsuits, five current and former agents at eXp Realty said that two top agents at the brokerage drugged and them assaulted them at separate eXp recruiting events. Four of them said they were subsequently sexually assaulted, and The Times investigation uncovered a pattern of eXp leadership silencing those who tried to make reports.“The New York Times report raised a huge red flag for us as an investor in that company,” Mr. DiNapoli said in an interview. “We found the allegations very concerning and as a shareholder, we are asking questions. We want a public reporting of their efforts to prevent harassment.”With $2 billion and $90,000 agents, eXp Realty is one of the world’s fastest-growing brokerages. Ariana Drehsler for The New York TimesHe sent a letter to the eXp chief executive, Glenn Sanford, requesting that the company establish an independent committee to look not only into the allegations, but into gaps in policies that may have set the stage for assaults to occur. Mr. DiNapoli wrote that he was concerned about the “legal and reputational risks” presented by the allegations.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    The Biden Family Drama Is Far From Over

    Gail Collins: Bret, I suspect our first big argument today will be about Hunter Biden. But I feel sorta obliged to start with Donald Trump. I mean, how often do you have a former president facing the threat of multiple indictments on alleged transgressions ranging from paying hush money over a sex scandal to prompting a riot that stormed the Capitol to trying to fix an election?Bret Stephens: While reportedly ordering an employee to delete potentially incriminating security camera footage in Mar-a-Lago. My preferred nickname for the 45th president, as you know, is Benito Milhous Caligula, but maybe we could switch that to G. Gordon Berlusconi.Gail: Said former president is, of course, the front-runner for the next Republican nomination.What’s your take on all this?Bret: Two thoughts. First, Trump belongs in prison, assuming Jack Smith, the special counsel in the documents matter, can prove his case in court. At a minimum, it looks to me like an open-and-shut case of obstruction of justice. Apparently, nobody told The Donald that the cover-up is usually worse than the crime.Gail: From your lips to God’s ears.Bret: Second, the more the legal system comes after Trump, the more the Republican rank-and-file will rally around him as both a truth-teller and a martyr. The hard right increasingly views the U.S. justice system in ways that the far left traditionally has: as a rigged, corrupt system in which sinister insiders use the levers of power to advance the interests of the elite at the expense of ordinary people.And of course, the Hunter Biden saga plays right into that narrative.Gail: Knew you’d be dying to go on to Hunter. I thought the plea deal was pretty reasonable. His crimes were tax evasion and lying when he bought a gun by failing to acknowledge he was a drug addict. I hate the idea of virtually anybody being able to obtain a gun. But even I do not expect drug addicts will voluntarily share that information when they attempt to buy one. So, definite criminal behavior but not a real shocker.Bret: If Hunter had been poor and Black, would the justice system have been as indulgent?Gail: A fair point. But in most places, a poor Black defendant from a responsible family who’s subsequently been living a sober, well-supervised life probably could have made this kind of deal. Or, OK, at least in some places.Bret: Hmmm.Maybe Hunter is a swell guy in private, and I have sympathy for anyone struggling with addiction. But what’s in the public record about him — from his obvious willingness to trade on the perception of access to make his living from dubious foreign sources to his reluctance to acknowledge paternity of one of his daughters to his career as a mediocre artist selling work at curiously astronomical prices to not paying taxes and then almost getting off with what seemed like a wrist slap — doesn’t exactly brighten the Biden family name. And while Republicans are jumping to conclusions without rock-solid evidence, I’m not entirely confident that Joe Biden really had no inkling of what his son was up to or that the larger Biden family didn’t benefit from Hunter’s shenanigans.Gail: Absolutely no evidence Joe Biden knew about Hunter’s lawbreaking. But one charge I’d bet on is that Hunter dropped dad’s name a lot when trying to do business with foreign honchos. Sort of hard to imagine him being saintly enough to avoid it. And the whole idea of his making deals with foreign honchos in the first place while his father was vice president is … bad.Bret: When it came to the Trump family’s finances — from his tax avoidance schemes to his foreign hotels to Jared Kushner’s sweetheart financing with Saudi Arabia — the news media left no stone unturned. It behooves journalists to be as aggressively curious about the Biden family’s finances. Especially since a federal judge wasn’t at all keen on Hunter’s plea deal, and I.R.S. agents are alleging political interference in the case.Gail: Absolutely. And news of Hunter’s unacknowledged daughter — brought to us by The Times’s great reporting — is a deeply depressing embarrassment for both father and grandfather. I was happy to see Joe Biden acknowledge her last Friday.But I still don’t believe anything on the Biden bad-behavior ledger compares to the way Trump built a personal real estate empire on smarmy-to-corrupt practices.Bret: Yeah — probably.Gail: And you know, as irritating as I find Donald Jr. and Eric making pots of money off their family name, I wouldn’t find that alone a major reason to violently oppose their father’s presidential ambitions.I think it’s the same with Hunter Biden — the House Republicans may be trying to make him a big campaign issue, but voters mostly don’t care.Bret: I bet plenty of voters would like to know how the extended Biden family raked in $17 million from foreign sources between 2014 and 2019, as a whistle-blowing I.R.S. agent testified. This was a period that seems to have coincided with Hunter’s crack binges. Just what expert services was he providing for that kind of income? Glassblowing?Gail: Well, we’re not gonna resolve every part of this today. Always enjoy having a Hunter fight with you, Bret, and we’ll undoubtedly turn back to this subject. But let’s move on to Congress. Lots to discuss there.Bret: Ad aspera per aspera, as some Roman must have said.Gail: Mitch McConnell seemed to go totally blank while talking with reporters last week. People are wondering if he’s developed serious aging problems that should make him step down from his job as Senate minority leader. What do you think?Bret: That one is between him and his physician, and he seemed to recover his faculties later during the press conference. But as with Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley or, ahem, Joe Biden, elderly politicians do themselves no favors by trying to hang on to office for too long. Interesting question is who might replace him. Any free advice for the Senate Repubs?Gail: We both agreed long ago that we wished the president wasn’t intent on running for re-election in his 80s. As to McConnell, I’ll never forgive him for squatting on Barack Obama’s final nomination to the Supreme Court. Still, I have to admit he’s generally seemed at least non-crazy as minority leader.But proposing a successor is your territory. Any ideas?Bret: I don’t think McConnell will step down right away, but someone I know who knows things tells me that the likeliest replacements are either South Dakota’s John Thune, the current No. 2, or Texas’ John Cornyn. My own preference would be Cornyn: a smart and sober guy and a non-MAGA conservative. Whatever else you might say about Cornyn, he is to the junior senator from Texas what pumpkin pie is to a jack-o’-lantern.Gail: Love your Ted Cruz reference. Hehehehe.Bret: Can I switch the subject to cultural issues? First, Kevin Spacey’s acquittal in a London courtroom on nine charges of sexual assault.Gail: Bret, not having really kept up on the Spacey situation, I’m going to have to defer to you.Bret: This is Spacey’s second acquittal, following last year’s in a case brought in New York by the actor Anthony Rapp. What bothers me is that even now, Spacey will face an “uphill battle” to get major roles again, according to a report in The Times. He’s one of the greatest actors alive, the Laurence Olivier of our day. He’s spent the last six years as persona non grata. He’s been declared not guilty by two juries in two countries. I think his case, like that of Armie Hammer, will be remembered as another ugly instance of #MeToo opportunism. To borrow a line from Raymond J. Donovan, Ronald Reagan’s unjustly indicted labor secretary, to which office does he go to get his reputation back?Sorry, I had to rant. I hope some major Hollywood director has the guts and grace to give him a starring role.Gail: Rant away! And as I said, I’m following your lead on this one. Except for your #MeToo swipe. The whole #MeToo opportunism reference hurts me.On a far less somber note, I have to say I’m siding with the law-and-order crowd when it comes to the Biden family dog, Commander, who’s allegedly bitten Secret Service agents at least 10 times over the last few months.I’m sure Commander has his own side of the story, but he should be exiled to the countryside forever. No deal with the prosecutor where he pleads guilty and then gets nothing but probation.Bret: Maybe Commander got hold of that stash of white powder that was found in the White House? “Cocaine K-9” could make an interesting sequel to “Cocaine Bear.”The other subject I wanted to raise is Sinead O’Connor, the Irish singer who sadly passed away last week. She basically blew up her musical career in the United States when in 1992 she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on “Saturday Night Live” in protest of the church’s cover-up of clerical sexual abuse. Your thoughts?Gail: I’d love to see Sinead O’Connor’s story enshrined with other celebrities who did something righteous and fell into career limbo as a result. Many celebrities have been outspoken with few repercussions. But messing with religious leaders will almost always get you in deep trouble. Even when they deserve it.Bret: O’Connor was calling attention to hideous facts about the church a decade before The Boston Globe’s Spotlight stories put it on the national agenda. She used her musical celebrity in exemplary fashion to call out monstrous evil. She went directly after one of the most beloved public figures of the time, now canonized, and she did so at heavy cost to her own career. It was an exemplary use of free speech and an extraordinary act of courage.Nothing compared 2 her. Rest in peace.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    Taiwan Faces a #MeToo Wave, Set Off by a Netflix Hit

    A torrent of sexual harassment accusations has prompted questions about the state of women’s rights on an island democracy that has long been one of Asia’s most progressive places.In the past few weeks, a wave of #MeToo allegations has raced to the very top of Taiwan’s political, judicial and arts scenes, forcing a new reckoning of the state of women’s rights on a democratic island that has long taken pride in being among Asia’s most progressive places.Nearly every day, fresh allegations emerge, setting off discussions on talk shows and on social media, with newspaper commentaries and activist groups calling for stronger protections for victims.In many ways, Taiwan stands out for the significant strides that women have made that helped elect the island’s first female president and bolster laws against rape and sexual assault, before #MeToo took off in the United States. But the flood of new sexual harassment accusations points to what activists and scholars say is entrenched sexism that leaves women vulnerable at work, and a culture that is quick to blame victims and cover up accusations against powerful men.President Tsai, in 2020, with other officials. Some of the earliest #MeToo allegations centered on senior members of her political party, posing risks to the party’s credibility with younger voters.Makoto Lin/Taiwan Presidential Office, via ReutersThe outpouring of complaints was set off by a popular Netflix drama about Taiwanese politics called “Wave Makers,” which featured a subplot about a female member of a political party telling her boss that she had been sexually harassed by a high-ranking party member. Her boss promises to help her report the harassment, and in an indication of how often such politically inconvenient complaints are ignored, says, “Let’s not just let this go this time.”That quote from the fictional supervisor became a clarion call, inspiring more than 100 accusers, mostly women, to speak out on social media, sharing their accounts of unwanted kisses, groping and in a few cases, attempted rape. They described the indignities endured at the workplace, including inappropriate touching and unwanted advances by male colleagues and bosses, as well as lewd comments. Some of their posts have been shared thousands of times.The stakes are particularly high for President Tsai Ing-wen’s governing Democratic Progressive Party. Senior party and government officials were among the first accused of harassment and of seeking to silence accusers, forcing Ms. Tsai to apologize twice for her party’s mishandling of internal complaints. The criticism runs counter to the party’s record as a champion of liberal values, which includes legalizing same-sex marriage in 2019 and granting gay couples the right to adopt earlier this year. And it poses risks to the party’s credibility with younger voters ahead of a presidential election next year.“The Democratic Progressive Party has regarded itself as the governing party that supports gender equality,” Fan Yun, a party legislator who is also a professor specializing in gender issues at National Taiwan University, said in a telephone interview. “The Netflix show was seen by others as a snapshot of what’s happening within the party, and it has brought about great impact.”A scene from Wave Makers. A line from the show about properly addressing a sexual harassment complaint, “Let’s not just let this go this time,” resonated in Taiwan.NetflixAmong the most senior figures accused of harassment is Yen Chih-fa, who denied the allegation but resigned from his post as an adviser to President Tsai. Taiwan’s highest legal body said it would investigate a complaint against a former chief justice, Lee Po-tao. Tsai Mu-lin, a high-level party official, has been accused of bullying a female party staff member into silence when she reported that a male colleague had tried to enter her hotel room.Mr. Tsai, who is not related to the president, has since stepped down.The woman who accused him, Chen Wen-hsuan, said she felt empowered to speak out publicly by the other women who had shared their experiences. “This movement has taught me that no injustice should be swallowed,” she said. “After all, we can’t just let it go.”Allegations have also been made against men from the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, as well as across Taiwan’s society more broadly, including in academia, journalism, and most recently, entertainment.Mickey Huang, a TV personality, apologized after being accused by a woman he met at work of kissing her without her consent and forcing her to be photographed nude. Aaron Yan, a pop star, apologized after an ex-boyfriend accused him of secretly shooting videos of them having sex, when the ex-boyfriend was 16, a minor. Local prosecutors said this week they would investigate the allegation.Mickey Huang, a TV personality, apologized after being accused by a woman of kissing her without her consent and forcing her to be photographed nude.Visual China Group, via Getty ImagesIn some ways, the #MeToo movement points to a generational shift in attitudes brought about by the hard-fought advances won by women’s rights activists in decades past. Taiwan’s younger generation started learning about gender equality in elementary school, as part of curriculum changes enacted in 2004, and have since come of age.But workplaces are struggling to keep pace.Taiwan’s younger generation has “a higher awareness of gender diversity and equality than the older generation,” said Wei-Ting Yen, an assistant professor of government at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. “However, the workplace that young people are entering is still dominated by the older generation.”Lawmakers have pledged to quickly pass changes to laws to make workplaces and schools safer by holding organizations accountable for protecting victims of harassment. The changes would require organizations to track complaints and provide independent, third-party review panels if needed. Women’s rights groups have called for Taiwan to extend the statute of limitations for sexual harassment complaints, currently at one year.But activists also say more needs to be done to address the culture of sexism that underlies the misconduct and deters many women from speaking out. A survey by Taiwan’s labor ministry last year showed that only a tiny percentage of female respondents who said they had encountered sexual harassment at work had filed complaints. Activists and scholars in Taiwan say that men in power, whether they are supervisors in workplaces or police officers or judges, are often seen as sympathetic toward other men in power, and likely to blame the victim.This month, Lai Yu-fen, 27, accused a Polish diplomat, Bartosz Rys, on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, of what Ms. Lai described as sexual assault last year. She said that when she filed a police report, investigators asked why she had apologized to the diplomat as she rejected his advances, and why she had not told her family about the encounter. She said a defense lawyer gossiped about her to mutual friends. “I want to take back my own story,” Ms. Lai said in an interview.The Polish Office in Taipei, Poland’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, confirmed that it cooperated with the authorities. Prosecutors decided not to charge Mr. Rys, whose posting ended last year and who later left Taiwan. He did not respond to an emailed request for comment, but said on his Twitter page that Ms. Lai had sought money in exchange for dropping the accusation. (She said the request for money was part of negotiating a legal settlement.)To those working in Taiwan’s civil society, perhaps the most concerning of allegations are those directed at activists seen as influential leaders in the rights community. Lee Yuan-chun, 29, an activist, this month publicly accused Wang Dan, a veteran Chinese pro-democracy dissident, of pressing him onto a bed and asking him for sex in 2014. He said he was suing Mr. Wang.Wang Dan, middle, a Chinese pro-democracy dissident, was accused this month by an activist of pressing him onto a bed and asking him for sex. Andres Kudacki/Associated PressIn a statement, Mr. Wang said he hoped that the public would reserve judgment until a court ruled on the lawsuit. “As a public figure, one’s private life will be subject to more stringent scrutiny,” he said. “Through this incident I will pay more attention to this in the future.” More

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    The Guardian view on consequences for Trump: this beginning took bravery | Editorial

    A 79-year-old advice columnist – along with a handful of other brave women who testified in her case – has done what legal and political institutions have not yet managed: held the former president Donald Trump accountable in law for his actions, and for his lies.In finding that he sexually abused E Jean Carroll in the 1990s, and subsequently defamed her, albeit not finding him liable for rape, the jury in her civil suit laid down an important marker.Though it awarded $5m (£4m) to Ms Carroll, money cannot erase the initial attack, the intrusive memories she has endured or her continued avoidance of romantic or sexual relationships. Mr Trump compounded the damage when he attacked her as a “wack job” pursuing a “hoax” after she described what had happened.It required courage to take on a man who was one of the most powerful people in the world, who may be so again, and who attracts and encourages irrational and aggressive support. She has received death threats, and the judge advised jurors to remain anonymous “for a long time”. Asked if she regretted bringing the case, Ms Carroll replied: “About five times a day.”It is too easy to write off this hard-earned victory by focusing solely on the fact that its impact on voters is likely to be limited. No one imagines it will sink Mr Trump’s political fortunes. His ability to float past or even capitalise upon his worst acts, transmuting them into fundraising and campaigning capital, is both remarkable and depressing. His support has proved resilient through impeachment, indictment and general disgrace. But this verdict stands on its own merits, in curtailing the impunity he has enjoyed for too long.It would be wrong to imagine that any case could fix a broken political system, or, indeed, root out entrenched misogyny. It is a sign of just how bad things are that it is entirely likely that the Republicans will go into the 2024 presidential election with a candidate found by a court to be a sexual abuser – and that, if they do, he may well win.Mr Trump was elected in 2016 even after the emergence of the Access Hollywood tape in which he boasted that “When you’re a star, they let you do it … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” At that point, Republicans attacked him over his words. On Tuesday, most were silent about his deeds. Though the tally of women accusing him of assault has risen to at least 26, his share of the female vote actually rose in 2020, with an outright majority of white women backing him. Nonetheless, he did not want this trial, still less this outcome, and has said he will appeal, claiming the case to be part of “the greatest witch-hunt of all time”.This was a victory for Ms Carroll and, as she has said, for other women. It reflects the legacy of the #MeToo movement, sometimes written off as a blip due to the backlash against it. The journalist herself credited the flood of allegations about powerful, predatory men with persuading her to speak out. It also led to the New York law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on such allegations, making her case possible.Change does not always come in immediate, dramatic and decisive fashion. It may be slow, halting, partial and unsatisfactory, yet nonetheless real and significant. Mr Trump now faces mounting jeopardy on multiple legal fronts. Whatever the outcome of other cases, this one still counts.
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    Scott Stringer Sues for Defamation Over Sexual Assault Claim

    Mr. Stringer, the former New York City comptroller, said that a woman’s claims of sexual assault were lies and caused “irreparable harm” as he ran for mayor.Nearly 20 months after allegations of unwanted sexual advances derailed his campaign for New York City mayor, Scott M. Stringer sued one of his accusers for defamation on Monday, arguing that she smeared his reputation with falsehoods and misrepresentations.In a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Stringer said that the woman, Jean Kim, had done “irreparable harm to him and his political future” by portraying what he called an “on-and-off” consensual relationship as predatory. He demanded that Ms. Kim retract her accusations and pay damages.“These defamatory statements have caused Mr. Stringer emotional pain and suffering, as well as injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,” lawyers for Mr. Stinger, a longtime Democratic politician and former New York City comptroller, wrote in the 12-page complaint.The legal action appears to be a calculated risk for Mr. Stringer, 62. If successful, it could help clear up his public image as he contemplates a political comeback. But it also serves to resurface Ms. Kim’s decades-old claims of misconduct, while posing the risk of an embarrassing legal defeat and reopening scrutiny into an earlier chapter in his life.Defamation cases are notoriously hard to prove, especially for public figures. To even get his case heard in court, Mr. Stringer must get around New York’s statute of limitations for defamation, and his lawyers are relying on a relatively novel legal theory to do so.They wrote in the suit that the matter was reopened legally in August 2022, when they assert — with scant detail — that Ms. Kim caused Representative Carolyn Maloney to resurface her defamatory statement against Mr. Stringer.The factual and legal issues are particularly relevant at a moment when New York and the country are still grappling with balancing the claims of women propelled by the #MeToo movement against the right to due process, and appraising what should happen to public figures like Mr. Stringer who are accused of misconduct decades after the fact.Ms. Kim and a lawyer who had represented her during the mayoral campaign did not comment on Monday morning, after the suit was filed.In an interview on Friday, Mr. Stringer said that he decided to take legal action now, after a needed “cooling-off period” for his family, to salvage his reputation. He acknowledged that waiting so long after the initial statements may have constrained his options legally.“There are times you could just walk away,” Mr. Stringer said. “But it was a lie. It was just a total lie. And I can’t live with myself if I did not do everything in my power to expose it.”Ms. Kim came forward in April 2021, in the heat of the Democratic primary for mayor. At the time, Mr. Stringer, a liberal who had slowly risen through the ranks of city politics, was considered a top-tier candidate for the nomination, though he seldom led early public polls.In a news conference and media interviews, Ms. Kim said that Mr. Stringer sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was working as an unpaid intern on his unsuccessful campaign for public advocate. She said Mr. Stringer, then a state assemblyman whom she viewed as an older mentor figure, repeatedly groped her without consent, put his hands down the back of her pants, pressured her to have sex — and then warned her not to tell anyone.“He constantly reminded me of his power by saying things like, ‘You want me to make a phone call for you to change your life,’ ‘You want me to make you the first Asian district leader,’” Ms. Kim later told The New York Times. Many prominent supporters quickly backed away from his campaign. Mr. Stringer stayed in the race, but ultimately finished fifth in a primary election won by Eric Adams, who went on to become mayor.Mr. Stringer disputed Ms. Kim’s account, saying they were peers and that their relationship had been consensual and public within the tight circles of Upper West Side Democratic politics. His campaign also presented documents that showed that Ms. Kim, who has worked as a political lobbyist, might have helped one of Mr. Stringer’s rivals, Andrew Yang, which she disputed.Monday’s lawsuit largely repeats the conflicting stories without new evidence, and seeks to highlight factual errors or inconsistencies in Ms. Kim’s claims.It remains unclear if Ms. Kim’s version of events can be independently corroborated; she has not provided any records, nor has she mentioned associates with whom she discussed the allegations at the time.Defamation, particularly cases involving public figures like Mr. Stringer, can be difficult to prove, and the contradictory claims by Ms. Kim and Mr. Stringer — involving shifting sexual and romantic mores, political power and few hard pieces of evidence — only add to that burden.Mr. Stringer appears to have even more pressing legal burdens, with Ms. Kim likely to argue for dismissal because her original statements fall outside New York’s statute of limitations.His argument that the timeline was restarted in August rests on photos on social media that apparently show Ms. Kim at a campaign event with Ms. Maloney, who was running in a primary contest against Representative Jerrold Nadler, a longtime mentor of Mr. Stringer’s.Two weeks later, the congresswoman attacked Mr. Nadler in The New York Post for supporting “a man accused of sexual assault.” The lawsuit argues that it should have been “reasonably foreseeable” for Ms. Kim that Ms. Maloney would “republish” her claims after their meeting.Some allies of Mr. Stringer, left, believe he should be considered a potential heir to his mentor, Representative Jerrold Nadler, right, if he decides to retire.Hiroko Masuike/The New York TimesLegal experts briefed on the issues raised by the case, though, said that the application of the theory known as “republication” would be ripe for challenge on multiple grounds. Though the suit insinuates that Ms. Kim somehow prompted Ms. Maloney’s statement, Mr. Stringer’s lawyers never actually state what, if anything, she told the congresswoman to encourage or direct her to reference Mr. Stringer. “If there’s no clear evidence that the defendant directed the third party to make the statement, it’s fairly likely the case would be dismissed,” said Lee Levine, a retired media lawyer with decades of experience litigating defamation cases, including some for The Times.Though The Times reviewed a draft of the complaint before it was filed, it agreed with Mr. Stringer not to share details of the case with Mr. Levine or anyone else ahead of time.Mr. Stringer and his lawyers were clearly aware of the statutory limits. The suit filed on Monday made no mention of a second woman, Teresa Logan, who followed Ms. Kim’s allegations by accusing Mr. Stringer of kissing and groping her at a bar he helped found in the 1990s. That instance, Mr. Stringer conceded, was clearly outside the statute of limitations.Mr. Stringer said in 2021 that he had “no memory” of the woman but added that if they had met, he was sorry to have made her uncomfortable.If the case proceeds, Mr. Stringer and his allies believe the discovery process will turn up new and relevant information related to Ms. Kim’s actions and whether she coordinated her public statements with any of his political rivals.Mr. Stringer is represented in the suit by Milton L. Williams Jr., a former federal prosecutor and white-collar criminal defense lawyer who currently serves as the chair of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board.After his loss, Mr. Stringer finished out his term as comptroller last December and began a consulting practice. But he almost immediately began discussing a political comeback.He went as far as to briefly campaign for a State Senate seat in Manhattan this spring, but he never actually entered the race. Allies still believe he should be considered a potential heir to Mr. Nadler should the congressman decide to retire.Still, the accusations of misconduct would almost certainly complicate any effort to return to public office.“Right now, I don’t have any plans to run for office. It’s something I’m not ruling out someday,” Mr. Stringer said. “This lawsuit is what’s in front of me at the moment.” More