There is no doubt that it is hard for a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape to come forward, and a host of factors in our society make it harder. From the often judgmental interrogations by police to victim-blaming in the general public, we know the overwhelming majority of rapes go unreported to police.
One of the common retorts that comes up when discussing these factors, or when a woman comes forward (especially publicly), is that false accusations of sexual harassment or assault will ruin a man’s life. This is touted as the reason for the excessively harsh interrogations on victims, often analyzing every choice leading up to the incident – and afterward. For example, a juror on the Bill Cosby trial cited the victim’s midriff-exposing shirt as a reason to doubt whether she was unwilling to engage in sexual acts and said she should have “dressed properly”. In another case, a lawyer for two police officers accused of rape argued that the victim’s “provocative selfie” on Instagram should serve as evidence that the situation was consensual.
While false allegations should be taken seriously and everyone is entitled to due process, the fact is that this is exceedingly rare. Only about 2% of sex-related charges are determined to be false – which is the same as the percentage for other felonies. To put this another way, that means 98% of sexual harassment and assault charges are true. So to continuously put the focus on this rare issue not only shifts the sympathy from the victim to the perpetrator – the refrain is never about how being raped can ruin a woman’s life – but it also erroneously magnifies the idea that false rape claims are a common problem.
Never has this been more true than in the past several weeks, where dozens of women have come forward with stories of victimization by men in the public eye. So many, in fact, that Woody Allen said he didn’t want it to turn into a “witch hunt” – and he would know, as a highly acclaimed director who has continued to find a wealth of success despite accusations of sexual abuse by his daughter.
So in the interest of fairness, I’ve decided to list just a few men whose lives were ruined by sexual harassment, assault or rape allegations. Note that this does not mean that the men on this list were convicted of the charges, because as we all know, even false accusations can ruin an entire future.
- Woody Allen – accused of sexual abuse by his adopted daughter. Has made more than 66 movies. Net worth $70 million.
- Ben Affleck – accused of groping several women, including on-camera. Has acted in more than 50 movies. Net worth $105 million.
- James Franco – pursuing underage girls. Has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and has acted in at least 4 movies since the allegations. Net worth $20 million.
- Jared Leto – rape and pursuing underage girls. Has been in more than 25 movies and serves as the lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars. Net worth $40 million.
- Roman Polanski – drugging and assaulting an underage girl. Has been nominated for four Oscars and two Golden Globes since the charges. Continues to direct movies. Net worth $45 million.
- Rob Lowe – videotaped rape of underage girl and sexual harassment. Has been in 45 movies. Net worth $30 million.
- Nate Parker – accused of rape. Has gone on to act in dozens of successful movies and directed 2016’s The Birth of a Nation. Net worth $4 million.
- Danny Masterson – accused of rape by four women. Has been in more than a dozen movies and multiple TV shows. Net worth $20 million.
- David O’Russell – admitted to groping his niece. Has directed 15 movies and nominated for three Best Director Academy Awards. Net worth $20 million.
- Donald Trump – accused by sexual harassment/assault by a total of 16 women, including one victim who was 13 years old. President of the United States of America. Net worth $3.1 billion.
I should also note that this list did not include celebrities who have suffered after being accused of domestic violence, which includes Johnny Depp, Chris Brown, Christian Bale, Sean Penn, Bill Murray and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Nor does it include those more recently accused of sexual misconduct, such as Roy Moore, Al Franken, Steve Lebsock, Dan Schoen and Tony Mendoza, among many others. Although none of these men have resigned yet, their lives are surely just days away from complete ruination.