R. Kelly, who is facing 10 years to life in prison, is set to be sentenced on May 4 by the same federal judge who oversaw his racketeering and sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn. https://t.co/WeDYjdnQqy
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 27, 2021
It’s not that all of them face allegations of sexual misconduct; this is about how they react to these allegations.
It’s not my job to decide whether they are guilty or not. But as a journalist, it’s my job to look at the bigger picture of these cases.
There is no doubt that accusing someone of something that they didn’t do is wrong. And there is also no doubt that there are cases of that—but that doesn’t automatically mean that every person accused of sexual misconduct is innocent. That’s why we have judges, lawyers, and investigative journalists.
So, we are not going to talk about the allegations against these men; we are going to look at what these cases have in common and how it relates to our own lives.
All four men are public figures with a lot of money. At the same time, the people accusing them of criminal behavior are not public figures and not particularly wealthy. Let’s say there is a quite obvious imbalance of power between the accused and the accusers.
R. Kelly was found guilty in a sex trafficking trial in September 2021. But it’s worth noting that Kelly was facing allegations of sexual misconduct for more than two decades. How did he manage to stay out of legal trouble for such a long time?
Bill Cosby was released from prison earlier this year because of legal technicalities—not because anyone really believes that he is innocent.
Prince Andrew will probably face a trial in the United States but still tries to block any trial with legal tricks that also involve using his status as a member of the Royal Family.
And Matt Gaetz just hired one of Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers to defend him in his upcoming case.
So, let’s stay away from guessing what these men actually did and take a look at how they defend themselves instead. It seems that all of them are trying to use the same narrative and portray themselves as victims of the so-called Cancel Culture.
We are looking at two narratives: #metoo versus Cancel Culture.
There are people who still defend R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, Prince Andrew, and Matt Gaetz—but these defenses are not based on the innocence of these men. They are mostly based on attacking the reputation of potential victims, whataboutism that tries to justify the actions, and portraying themselves as victims of political campaigns.
Every case is different, but they all have in common that there are several hurdles to overcome when speaking up against men in power—and one can only assume that these accused men are quite aware of that when doing what they allegedly did.
All of these cases have in common that there is a huge time gap between the accused actions and the actual lawsuit. It’s not that the victims reported to the police the day after things happened—which brings us to the next thing these cases have in common.
These men are not accused of wrongdoing against one particular person; they are all facing several charges from different people. And all these women had to connect with each other before speaking up—in some cases, investigative journalists had to help them back up their claims in documentaries.
To take legal actions against these powerful men, it was not enough to tell their story. They had to reach out to other potential victims, hire investigative journalists, and draw attention to these cases—and who knows how many women who were victims of sexual misconduct were not able to take these steps?
Who knows how many women didn’t come forward because they were worried about their safety? These are only speculations, and I explicitly do not accuse any of these particular men of threatening anyone, but we have to assume that there is a possibility of that—I experienced that in my own life when speaking up against men in power, and have no reason to believe that I am the only person on this planet who encountered this sickening behavior.
While these cases are single cases that deserve proper investigations, we should ask ourselves how it is possible that all these cases share so many similarities? How is it possible that there is a network of lawyers who specialize in defending wealthy men against allegations of sexual misconduct?
These men (besides Prince Andrew) don’t even deny sexual activities with the women speaking up against them; they defend themselves by saying that it was all consensual. We see men who use it as a defense that celebrities always had sexual relationships with fans without getting accused of acting wrong.
But there is a huge difference between so-called groupies hanging out backstage with their idols and adult men using online networks to organize sex parties by paying women to travel with them.
And even if someone wants to defend these actions as consensual arrangements or prostitution, we should ask ourselves why there are minors involved, how much drugs were used, and where the money came from.
We should also ask ourselves why someone would publicly defend these men by using the term Cancel Culture and making this about politics?
And then I see friends of mine getting requests from so-called sugar daddies on social media. They sent them messages asking for sexual services as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about the platform “Seeking Arrangements.” They have 20 million users, and the main purpose of this service is to connect “Sugar Babies” with “Sugar Daddies.”
The Harvey Weinstein case already showed us that there seems to be a bigger problem in the entertainment industry than just one man acting in a bad way. #Metoo made it obvious that these are not single cases but a problem that is structural and not based on single cases.
As long as there are men that have the monetary means to lure young women into making huge amounts of money by selling their bodies, there will be women desperate enough to do exactly that. What starts as easy money can easily and quickly shift into abuse, drug addiction, and social isolation.
None of these men mentioned in this article are accused of going to the park and raping someone they don’t know—they are alleged of creating structures that enable systematic abuse covered by claims of having an arrangement with their alleged victims.
And these alleged structures include several strategies of defending themselves, teams of lawyers, and legal websites that attract potential victims.
But what upsets me the most is that folks who continuously talk about Cancel Culture also have a tendency to defend these men. Matt Gaetz even goes further and claims that lawsuits against him are part of a deep state attack against Conservatives.
Maybe we should just all take a huge step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Conservatives, who just created outrage with more than questionable abortion laws, are now defending someone like Matt Gaetz. People who accused Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of ruining the reputation of the Royal Family are now defending Prince Andrew. And I am already scared of Candace Owens trying to defend R. Kelly anytime soon (pure speculation).
I feel that these four men are just the tip of the iceberg. They all have in common that they know how to use legal tricks to avoid prosecution. They all have the money to pay lawyers who specialize in these cases.
And many of us experienced situations in our lives where wealthy men used their power to silence others and get away with outrageous things. Maybe these cases are the beginning of a bigger discussion about power disparity between those in power and average members of society.
This is not only about Kelly, Gaetz, Prince Andrew, and Cosby; this is about a legal system that protects some folks more than others—and that needs to change.