This is why women don't immediately report allegations of sexual harassment

Tuesday , November 14, 2017 - 4:30 AM

Brynn Anderson

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. According to a Thursday, Nov. 9 Washington Post story an Alabama woman said Moore made inappropriate advances and had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Moore has denied the allegations. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS

If you ever wonder why women don't come forward immediately with allegations of sexual misconduct, the public smearing of Judge Roy Moore's accusers provides an answer.

Rather than focusing on the substance of the allegations that the GOP senatorial candidate from Alabama pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, Breitbart News sent two reporters to Alabama to try and discredit the women and the Washington Post's reporting.

Another Moore supporter — the guy whose tweet fired up the right-wing with the now infamous, and discredited, Pizzagate smearing of Hillary Clinton — tweeted photos of one of the accusers together with information about her last known employer in what seemed to be an invitation to harass or otherwise endanger her. A Daily Caller tweet insinuated that one of the accusers' work as sign language interpreter for Democrats rendered her hostile to Moore.

But the most distressing response came from top Republicans in Congress, who spent more time rejecting or downplaying the allegations than considering their import.

So this is how we treat allegations of inappropriate underage sexual overtures? One of the accusers was 14 at the time of Moore's alleged predatory actions. Where's the moral outrage, the compassion? Why must we be reminded time and again to not victimize the victim?

Yes, one is innocent until proved guilty in a court of law. But one can be unsuitable for public office with or without a criminal record. On Monday, a fifth woman came forward to accuse Moore of unwanted sexual advances.

Moore's response has hardly been confidence inspiring. He hasn't ruled out the possibility that he had dated 17-year-old girls while a prosecutor in the District Attorney's office. When asked about the allegations on Sean Hannity's radio show last week. Moore said he didn't "remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother."

That's it? That you don't "remember" dating somebody underage and that you don't "generally" make unwanted overtures to girls half your age? How does anyone with a sense of right and wrong turn a blind eye to such a shaky defense?

We are pleased that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged this week that Moore leave the race, a straightforward denunciation that all Republicans should echo. Texas Sen. John Cornyn rightly withdrew his endorsement of Moore on Monday; he and Texas' other senator, Ted Cruz, should call for Moore to exit the race.

"I believe the women, yes," said McConnell. "I think he should step aside."

Women shouldn't have to suffer in silence, and men of conscience must make sure they don't.