THE “ME TOO” MOVEMENT: IT CAN DESTROY YOUR FAMILY!
Aug. 24, 2020
This is Dennis Boren, criminal defense attorney and former felony prosecutor. And today I want to talk to you about something that’s really a new phenomenon in the past few years. It has to do with the Me Too movement, and its unintended consequences.
ME TOO NEEDED TO HAPPEN
So let me say on the outset that the Me Too movement needed to happen because women were largely ignored and brushed aside. A lot of injustice has occurred over decades and centuries, where women were not listened to. And sexual assault cases were never brought to justice because of this cultural bias against women.
So this needed to happen. In that sense, it’s good, but there are some definite unintended consequences of the Me Too movement. When I was a prosecutor back in the day, we had a lot more leeway on what cases we could take and reject. Today, there’s a lot of political and media coverage and pressure on the police, on prosecutors, and even judges.
In Texas, the judges are elected officers, which is a matter of debate in terms of whether it’s a good idea, but that’s what it is right now. It’s hard for a police officer or a prosecutor to turn down somebody who says they’ve been sexually assaulted, no matter what the evidence is. That’s because they could well end up being pointed at in the news media, as somebody who is ignoring a victim.
CASES TAKE ON A LIFE OF THEIR OWN
So you have to know that once a case gets filed, these things take on a life of their own. It’s sort of like pouring concrete and the concrete hardens really fast. So it’s really hard to get rid of this sort of trial, and that can be a very long process and expensive. Trials on matters like this can take well over a year to even rise to the top of the court’s list or docket.
Now, let me address a few of the most vulnerable people or categories in this regard. What are employers? Employers need to have specific office policies regarding this and ways to report.
Of course, there are civil liabilities as well. And you see a lot of those civil lawsuits occur because of this, but there are criminal repercussions as well.
STEPDADS ARE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE
But I mainly want to address stepparents, especially stepdads. When there’s an accusation made, this is as if an alien spaceship has landed on you. And young kids or teenagers, they really don’t usually think of the long-term consequences of an accusation. It’s literally like an atom bomb, or a hydrogen bomb goes off in the family.
ADVICE FOR STEPDADS
Here are my suggestions to avoid this. One is if you’re a stepdad, do not be the one that uses or exacts the corporal punishment. Let the birth parent do that. Minimize being alone with a stepchild, especially a stepdaughter who’s over 10 years old. Never be in a room alone with the door closed with a stepdaughter.
Don’t engage in horseplay or physical contact. You can pat them on the head and hug them a little bit, but you’ve got to really be careful. I know it’s a shame, but you have to protect yourself.
YOU ALSO WANT TO ADDRESS THE CHILD’S AND ESPECIALLY A TEENAGER’S PROVOCATIVE DRESSING. THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE OTHER PARENT.
Usually, it’s the mom, the birth mom.
Also, be aware of the child’s friends. I’ve seen a lot of cases, and I have about a half a dozen of them right now. Many of them involve situations where a child’s friends have instigated an accusation. And keep as good a relationship as possible with the birth parent. Just practice full disclosure with them, so there are no hidden agendas.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SENSE THERE’S TROUBLE…
If you have any notions, or any idea that you may be accused, you need to get it out in the open. You need to do it yourself and soon. Don’t wait for CPS or some outcry witness where the child tells somebody else, another adult, because this starts an avalanche that often cannot be stopped.
HIRE AN ATTORNEY EARLY
It’s very important that you hire an attorney in this situation early. Your instinct is to go to the police, and go to CPS, tell your stories like, “This is ridiculous,” and it probably is ridiculous. But your instinct to do that is a bad instinct. You need to hire an experienced attorney right away.
Everyone thinks that, “This will never happen to me.” But I promise you, you’ll rue the day if you don’t listen to what I just told you.
Of course, if you have any questions about this or related subjects, reach out to me, and I’ll be happy to answer them. And if you’re interacting with the police, make a video through your smartphone video app, or at least an audio recording. This will protect you. I hope this was helpful.