WASHINGTON, Dec 8 — Democratic Senator Al Franken yesterday became the latest in a succession of famous American men felled by allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Here are some of the key figures from the worlds of entertainment, politics and the media.
Harvey Weinstein was until a few months ago a king of Hollywood whose golden touch bagged his productions 81 Oscars. That all changed in October, when he was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. He apologised in a bizarre statement that blamed his age and misquoted Jay-Z.
It was only the beginning, however, and he now stands accused by over a hundred women ranging from bit-players to Angelina Jolie of allegations ranging from harassment to rape.
The New York Times and The New Yorker, which first reported the allegations against him, later published in-depth investigations reporting that he used networks of surveillance and intimidation to cow his critics into silence. Sacked by his company, Weinstein is facing criminal investigations in multiple cities.
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, considered one of the finest actors of his generation, was accused in October of having harassed several young male actors, including Anthony Rapp who was 14 when he said an inebriated Spacey attempted to carry him to his bedroom. He was subsequently accused of a pattern of harassment on the set of hit TV show House of Cards, which fired him. British police meanwhile are investigating allegations of abuse and harassment relating to his tenure at The Old Vic, a storied London theater where he was artistic director from 2004 to 2015.
Famed New York Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine was suspended Sunday following the publication of an explosive report in the New York Post alleging that he abused a boy for years, starting in 1985 when the purported victim was 15. Three more musicians then came forward to describe similar experiences — the older Levine pressuring them into sex when they were teenage students.
Affable TV host Matt Lauer’s two decade run as host of NBC’s morning show Today came to an abrupt end last month following harassment allegations by several colleagues, including one who claimed he locked her in his office and assaulted her.
Other allegations included that he exposed himself to a female employee in his office, and sent a mortified colleague a sex toy with an explicit note. In a statement of apology he described some of what had been reported as “mischaracterized” but nevertheless expressed his “shame” and “regret.”
Another morning TV star, award-winning broadcaster Charlie Rose of rival network CBS, was one of the best-respected names in US news until he too fell from grace. In a Washington Post report, the 75-year-old was variously accused by five women of misconduct ranging from obscene phone calls to unwanted touching. Two said he “walked naked in front of them.” He was fired at the end of November by CBS and PBS, where he also worked.
Long before the Weinstein affair, conservative news network Fox News was plagued by harassment scandal after scandal that went all the way up to the top and its late chairman, Roger Ailes. Also in the eye-of-the-storm was Bill O’Reilly, whose almost two-decade run as the highest rated host on cable TV ended with his sacking in April after the New York Times reported on a slew of multi-million dollar harassment settlements dating back years.
In October, the same paper reported that one case was settled for US$32 million (RM177.38 million) — a figure described as “jaw-dropping” by his ex-colleague Megyn Kelly, who has become a fierce critic of sexual misconduct at her former channel.
Veteran US Democrat Conyers, the longest-serving congressman and a prominent civil-rights era pioneer, was forced to stand down Tuesday under growing pressure from his party following a series of sexual harassment accusations by former staffers.
The 88-year-old described the move as his retirement, maintaining his innocence against allegations by ex-aides that he made repeated unwanted advances, as well as caressing their hands and rubbing their legs in public. One of them, Marion Brown, broke a non-disclosure agreement saying that she felt compelled to speak out.
The 66-year-old former comedian announced his resignation yesterday in an emotional and defiant address from the Senate floor following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct that began when sportscaster Leeann Tweeden said he forcibly kissed her and touched her through a flak jacket as she slept.
Several more women then accused him of inappropriate touching while he posed for photographs with them, while the final straw was an accusation, made anonymously, from a former political aide who said he attempted to forcibly kiss her.
“There is some irony in the fact I am leaving while a man who bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,” he said in his speech, aiming a parting shot at President Donald Trump.
Against all the odds, Roy Moore, a conservative Christian Senate candidate accused of child molestation, remains the Republican candidate for Alabama’s special election on December 12 — with Trump’s full backing.
Now 70, he is reported to have pursued relationships with teens while he was in his thirties. One of his accusers said that when she was 14, Moore took her into his house in the woods, removed her shirt and pants, and fondled her over her bra and underpants. — AFP