Going for their Money Instead of Going to Prison: Is this Justice?
by G. Brown
It started with accusations of the man formerly known as “America’s Dad”(Bill Cosby) and has now swelled from the world of television, to iconic Hollywood directors, actors, producers, network news anchors and even the halls of Capitol Hill.
Just last week, a second woman stepped forward with how the sexual depravity of Hollywood’s powerful led to her rape. Writer Jenny Lumet described to the Hollywood Reporter how initial attempts to woo her turned down a dark path to rape. Lumet told the news site when she was 24 Russell Simmons offered to give her a ride home and locked the doors and windows to prevent her from escaping as he instructed the driver to take them to his apartment. Lumet says “The car stopped at the curb. I don’t recall the street. I recall the driver opening the door from the outside, and you behind me. I was between the two of you. Not wedged, just in the space between you… It was me and these two men.I felt dread. I was tremulous.”
Lumet describes being so scared and overwhelmed–not sure whether to run, if the driver was an ally or what to do. Lumet says she was taken on an elevator up to Simmons’ apartment, being taken to a bedroom as she uttered “Wait”, but no response. Lumet says at that point she resigned herself to the inevitable saying, “It was dark but not pitch-dark. You closed the door. At that point, I simply did what I was told.”
The victim just happened to be the grand daughter of Hollywood royalty–actress, singer Lena Horne. After Lumet’s allegations, Simmons responded by stepping down from his own companies. HBO cut ties with Simmons and removed his name and likeness from the “All Def Comedy”. TRN hasn’t been able to determine if Simmons has stepped down from all his companies which also include Phat Farm, All Def Digital, Global Grind, Tantrist, Def Pictures and Rush Communications. Simmons business dealings and entertainment enterprises helped him to amass a networth of nearly $350 million. Even if Simmons stepped down as CEO from all these companies, is it a move to protect the victims who have accused him or one to protect his companies that are still earning money for him?
Actor Bill Cosby was the first major celebrity to face in this latest trend trend of outing stars and celebs suspected of sexual harassment and assault. But even after being stripped of honorary degrees, doctorates, ousted from boards of trustees and his syndicated shows pulled from networks, Cosby’s net worth is still listed at $400 million by the richest.com. That’s the same worth as before the scandal. So, are all these public removals by companies just for show to make people feel that something is being done when in actuality, it really isn’t?
These women that are coming forward suffered at the hands of abusive men and some still suffer since their careers were derailed. Some suffered mental anguish such as PTSD which cost them in medical bills and medication which still may be costing them.
The response when accusers step forward has become too formulaic like an overused movie trope where the villain falls in the lake and is assumed dead even though no body is recovered. Only to return in the sequel to claim more victims The formula has been ‘act remorseful, apologize and step down from some lofty positions’. Contrition is not justice. If that’s all it takes then there are a lot of not celebrity or wealthy men behind bars on rape charges who are owed explanations.
These women who are braving judgement, their reputations and risk being labelled as liars or worst seem to be paying a higher cost as victims. Until these cases are given due process under the law and taken to court, justice is being averted as those accused whether on Capitol Hill or Hollywood Hills release a few remorseful statements and make grand gestures of stepping down from positions and boards as proof of their repentance. It’s all just an act that sexual predators are being seriously dealt with.