Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey and Melanie Martinez have one disturbing thing in common. All of these public figures have been accused of rape or sexual harassment, but their fans have claimed they were innocent while disregarding the victims’ testimonies.
No one should be able to get away with sexual harassment or sexual assault just because they are famous. When 15 victims, five of whom were underage at the time according to USA Today, accused Spacey of sexual misconduct, I was upset, but I believed them.
Several Spacey fans thought he should still be considered a respected actor and producer, even after the accusations came out. I initially didn’t understand why anyone would want to support someone after they knew about the illegal things they did.
Singer-songwriter Melanie Martinez got her start from “The Voice” and has released two albums, “Cry Baby” and “Dollhouse." Up until Dec. 4, many people, including myself, were fans.
Believing the victim is important because it allows future victims to feel safe to come forward. With every other person accused of assault or harassment, I didn’t question their legitimacy. When Timothy Heller posted the details of her rape on Twitter, like many of Martinez’s fans, I didn’t want to believe it. It is hypocrisy to believe every other victim until the accused is someone you are a fan of.
Roy Moore was and is a highly regarded man in politics, even after he was accused of sexually assaulting of eight women about a month before Martinez was accused. Moore was close to winning the election as the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama because his supporters didn’t believe his victims. It was wrong of me not to believe that Martinez was guilty, but I had to believe Heller and join the #MelanieMartinezIsOverParty.
According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Also, one in six women and one in 33 men will experience rape in their lifetime.
It is a popular myth that most sexual assault accusations are false, when only about 2 percent of reports turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crime.
Victims who did not report to the police didn’t report because 43 percent thought nothing could be done, 27 percent thought it was a private matter, 12 percent were afraid of the police response and 12 percent felt it was not important enough to report.
Many of the victims who are coming forward now were assaulted and harassed years ago, but were too afraid to report it at the time. More victims are coming forward every day because they feel safe and they feel justice will actually be served to the person accused.
Ashlon Lusk is an 18-year-old mass communication freshman from Houston, Texas.