This Biglaw Partner’s Insulting Appearance On Fox News
As the sexual harassment and assault allegations are piling up against powerful men in entertainment, politics, Silicon Valley… and well everywhere in between, there has been increased visibility of #metoo stories and corresponding calls to believe the women and men who are brave enough to speak out. Gordon & Rees partner Mercedes Colwin has taken a… decidedly different tack.
Colwin is the managing partner of the Biglaw firm’s New York office whose litigation practice focuses on employment law, commercial litigation, class actions, products liability, professional liability, wage and hour class actions, civil rights violations, and criminal law. Also included in her firm bio is this little gem, “Ms. Colwin regularly defends corporate executives from Fortune 500 companies accused of wrongdoing including claims of sexual misconduct.”
Yeah… you just know when Colwin appeared on Hannity Thursday night to discuss the allegations that Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore dated underage girls it was going to be a doozy.
If you’re looking to be outraged, Colwin does not disappoint:
Hannity: Do people do it for money? Do they do it for political reasons? Is that more common than people think?
Colwin: Oh definitely.
Hannity: They will lie to make money?
Colwin: Undoubtedly. I mean, there are individuals who will come forward with these outrageous allegations, and they fall…
Hannity: And that hurts women who are victims.
Colwin: Yes. I used to work in sex crimes in the DA’s office. It was very pitiful to see that. Because some jurors don’t believe it because they have, in their own lives, there are people who have made these accusations for money. You see this time and time and time again. And sexual harassment, that term is coined everywhere, frankly, the laws are very clear about what it takes to have some sort of violation of the law. You have to have some sort of damage. And these individuals, a lot of these women, it’s all about money, and they bank on the fact that these corporations have the reputation that they want to save.
Hannity: And the hard—this is where you thread the needle, because there are women who are victims of predators.
Colwin: Yes, there are. There are. But very few and far between.
Way to trot out the trope that women are gold digging liars there. And I suppose the deluge of #metoo narratives have done nothing to change her default that men should be believed — even when a pattern has been established.
Jordan Weissmann, writing for Slate, shares the disgust over the Colwin’s awful victim blaming. He reached out and asked her to clarify her statements:
She didn’t walk back the “few and far between” quip. Instead, Colwin wrote that she was “profoundly sympathetic” to harassment victims “as one who has personally experienced such treatment and also had a deceased sister who was a victim of domestic violence.” But she also said that “in some cases, incidents of alleged sexual harassment can be misrepresented or even fabricated” and the accused deserved the “presumption of innocence.”
“I did not in any way mean to trivialize or minimize the impact of sexual harassment on any victims of such practices or to condone such behaviors in any setting, whether business or personal,” she added. Which, fair enough. She merely suggested most victims aren’t real.
Don’t believe Colwin’s attempt to deflect away from the harmful impact of her words. She tries to create a false dichotomy between “real” victims of sexual harassment and abuse, and women, like those speaking out about Roy Moore’s alleged behavior, who are coming forward. Under Colwin’s worldview their stories will always get caught in the crossfire and implicit biases about who gets to count as believable will rule the day.
Instead, may I suggest something radical and believe women.
Colwin’s full response to Weissmann is below:
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify certain of my remarks from the November 9 broadcast of the Sean Hannity Show. First and foremost, I am profoundly sympathetic of anyone who has been the victim of sexual harassment and believe they deserve full and complete protection under the law. As one who has personally experienced such treatment and also had a deceased sister who was a victim of domestic violence, it is entirely apparent to me that sexual predators do indeed exist in our society who deserve to be called out, civilly pursued and criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
On the other hand, my comments made during the broadcast were intended to address a different set of circumstances which I have observed both as an administrative law judge and an attorney over a number of decades—namely that in some cases, incidents of alleged sexual harassment can be misrepresented or even fabricated as a means of leveraging an advantage in court or otherwise. And given the incredibly serious nature of such accusations, it is important to bear in mind that the accused also have rights and are deserving of the presumption of innocence embedded in our legal system.
In any event, I did not in any way mean to trivialize or minimize the impact of sexual harassment on any victims of such practices or to condone such behaviors in any setting, whether business or personal.
Kathryn Rubino is an editor at Above the Law. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
via Above the Law http://bit.ly/2hfMXdn
November 12, 2017 at 11:15AM