Allegation of sexual misconduct at Young Labour camp

Newsroom has another story about allegations of sexual misconduct, this time at a Young Labour summer camp. There are also questions over supply of alcohol to minors.

One drunk person can do a lot damage, but how it was dealt with is also important, and it seems astounding that while Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton was aware of it and is dealing with it, Jacinda Ardern said this afternoon that she knew nothing about it.

Newsroom: Sexual misconduct alleged at boozy Labour Party camp

The Labour Party has been hit with claims that four young supporters were sexually assaulted at one of its annual ‘Summer School’ camps near Waihi last month.

The four – two males and two females – are all 16 and were allegedly assaulted or harassed by a 20-year-old man during a wild party on the second night of the camp.

Newsroom has been told the man was intoxicated and put his hand down the pants of at least three of the four young people.

Labour Summer Schools are open to supporters of all ages including those under 18 and this year’s camp in the Karangahake Gorge ran from late afternoon on Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11.

More than 50 people attended the camp and about a third of those were 18 or under.

The ages of those who were allegedly assaulted has not been revealed.

According to witnesses, a large variety of alcohol was available on Saturday night and many people, including a 15-year-old boy, were drinking.

The “mountain” of alcohol included rum, vodka, cider and a large array of RTDs.

If people under the legal drinking age were supplied with alcohol, that’s another serious problem for Labour.

It’s understood the camp’s supervisor, Young Labour’s Tess Macintyre, had gone to bed around 9pm and was not present at the party.

Was no one in charge or responsible after that?

The camp’s ‘Code of Conduct’ was given to everyone who registered for the event.

It states there is “zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour. Inappropriate behaviour includes any criminal activity, as well as bullying or acting inappropriately toward other attendees”.

It sounds like a major fail on that one.

The code also refers to alcohol and sexual harassment.

“The organising committee has to pay special attention to the activities of all under 18s in the camp (especially in regards to alcohol). We do not want to prevent you having fun but must act according to the law. No Means No! Sexism and sexual harassment of any form will not be tolerated.”

And a fail on that as well.

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, spoke at the event but was not present at the time of the incident.

Other speakers included Labour’s General Secretary, who outlined the party’s plans for 2018, MP for Waiariki Tamati Coffey on Māori development and Dr Sarb Johal on mental health.

Newsroom understands that the man involved was removed from the camp on the Sunday morning, the same day those attending heard a talk on feminism by Angie Warren-Clark – a Labour list MP and manager of the Tauranga Women’s Refuge.

She may not be very happy about the allegations.

Labour’s General Secretary, Andrew Kirton said he was aware of the incident and was currently, “working through it”.

Keeping the lid on it, until the news broke.

In a press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was the first she’d heard of the allegations.

“I went to the opening of that summer camp, I attended at the very beginning, people had just arrived so certainly none of that was apparent when I was there. This is the first I’ve heard of any such allegations but now that you’ve made them I’ll happily investigate them because that is not what I would expect of any Labour function.”

‘Happily’ is not a great word to use in these circumstances.

“Given that I’ve just heard it now, I’d just ask for the time to look into that personally.”

On whether leadership knew: “That could well be the case, I’m certainly not ruling out that our Labour Party leadership may well be aware, I’m certainly just pointing out it has not been raised with me until now.”

It seems remarkable that the Labour Party was aware of the incident and “working through it”, but that Ardern was not informed.

This is a major embarrassment, with possible illegalities have occurred in respect of alcohol and supply and the sexual misconduct.

1 News has just reported that the police were not involved in the complaints. Why not?

How Labour deals with this from now is very important. This has put the Prime Minister in a very difficult position.

UPDATE: Statement from Andrew Kirton:

This sounds like an attempt at belated damage control. I think that Kirton has a bit more explaining to do.

UPDATE 2:

So it appears this was known about publicly (on Twitter) a month ago. I have the  Twitter account details but there is associated information on that tweet thread that I don’t want to repeat here).

UPDATE 3: a statement from Ardern:

That is doing little other then repeating Kirton’s ‘assurances’. Ardern needs to step up and show leadership on this – which means taking appropriate responsibility.

So Kirton decided to try and deal with it all on the quiet himself? Very risky.

So it sounds like acted when he knew the story was coming out.

There is more of this story to come out by the look of things.

Sexual misconduct in the legal profession

The story of historical sexual misconduct at law firm Russell McVeagh is growing into a wider condemnation of ‘the legal profession’, with claims the problem ‘is endemic’.

Newsroom kicked this off with a series of articles (a big investigative task with a major law firm the target), beginning on 14 February with The summer interns and the law firm

Something went badly wrong with the student law clerk programme at national law firm Russell McVeagh in Wellington over a recent summer.

Newsroom has learned of a pattern of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards the female students that saw our leading universities intervene, at least one report made to the police and a later reform of the clerk programme including a ban on alcohol and the launch of a helpline for them to seek support.

The matter went before the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee and the NZ Law Deans, who oversee the law schools sending graduates to Russell McVeagh and other workplaces.

Victoria University said today its staff were “extremely disappointed that the incidents occurred” but found Russell McVeagh senior staff “genuinely concerned” for the welfare of those involved and determined to ensure the safety of future clerks.

16 February: ‘Zero tolerance’ flies in face of reality

A former Russell McVeagh lawyer*, with close knowledge of its handling of complaints of sexual assault and harassment against summer clerks, says beware of the law firm’s carefully worded public responses. 

Having watched this saga unfold from a relative degree of proximity in my opinion Russell McVeagh’s reaction to the very compelling allegations of sexual assault and harassment was commercial and focused on harm minimisation – and not exclusively in the best interests and wellbeing of the vulnerable victims as well as several staff who had bravely chosen to support them.

This disjunct between what Russell McVeagh has said to the media and the reality is best illustrated by comparing what actually happened to the representations made in the carefully crafted spin that highly paid PR consultants would have encouraged Russell McVeagh to pump out.

17 February: Lawyers intervened to protect clerk

A further incident has come to light involving one of the men at the centre of claims of serious sexual assault at law firm Russell McVeagh – just months after his departure from the law firm.

Two informants have provided detailed information to Newsroom about events that played out at a lawyers’ conference after-party in a provincial town.

Newsroomrevealed on Wednesday that five clerks on the firm’s summer programme made complaints of serious sexual assault and harassment against two male lawyers at the firm.

In the latest revelation, a group of people had to intervene to help a summer clerk being pursued by one of the two men at a bar, where lawyers from the conference had gathered late at night.

21 February: Law firm not told of complaints against solicitor

A premier national law firm that hired a former Russell McVeagh solicitor after he was accused of sexual misconduct says it was led to believe by a reference check that the incident was minor.

The firm, smaller than Russell McVeagh but a leading name in the profession, says it would not have hired the man in its Wellington office if it had known what went on at the El Horno bar on a January night in 2016.

The lawyer was accused of sexually assaulting a “summer clerk” who worked at Russell McVeagh. The incident was reported to the Police at the time but no action was taken.

22 February: Why wasn’t the Law Society told?

Allegations of serious sexual assaults against students on law firm Russell McVeagh’s summer clerk programme, which should have been reported by the firm’s lawyers at the earliest opportunity, took eight to nine months to reach the Law Society.

Newsroom has confirmed the matter reached the profession’s regulator only when one of the young women involved told the society, despite lawyers’ clear obligation to report such misconduct.

The lengthy delay in the matters being brought to the attention of the Law Society could mean Russell McVeagh lawyers are in breach of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act whistleblowing procedures.

The Law Society regulates all lawyers in New Zealand including in relation to misconduct.

Its president, Kathryn Beck, has confirmed in an interview with Newsroom that it first became aware in September 2016 of the Russell McVeagh summer clerk allegations of sexual assaults which occurred in December 2015 and January 2016.

22 February: Law firm vs law firm

Law firm Russell McVeagh strongly rejects another firm’s claim it did not inform it in a job reference for a lawyer that the man had been investigated for sexual assault.

Russell McVeagh claims its partners had two face-to-face meetings with the prospective employer, Duncan Cotterill, and was up-front about the inquiry into a sexual assault allegation involving the solicitor.

Duncan Cotterill has now responded to that new claim, saying it has no record of a second meeting and challenging Russell McVeagh’s portrayal of the first discussion.

It says it was only told there had been a sexual encounter between the solicitor and a clerk – with an implication it could have been inappropriate but consensual. It says there was no mention of Russell McVeagh investigating a sex assault claim or that the police had opened a file on the matter.

On Nine to Noon on February 15, Russell McVeagh senior partner Pip Greenwood told Kathryn Ryan the firm had been asked for a reference in relation to one person “and we’ve been very open with that. Very open and transparent”.

24 February: “This letter is not intended to threaten Newsroom…”

Law firm Russell McVeagh instructed Auckland QC Adam Ross to write to Newsroom upbraiding us on our reporting of the allegations about the sexual abuse and harassment on its summer clerk programme two years ago.

His letter says the scandal has presented a “very difficult situation for the firm” and claims Newsroom’s informants have “other agendas they are not disclosing to you”.

The letter wrongly claims Newsroom has published material without knowing its validity, or knowing the unspecified “circumstances with the firm” of anonymous sources whom Russell McVeagh is trying to identify. It questions the practices and fairness of our Investigations. Newsroom rejects these claims; our team has been painstaking and meticulous in its research and confirmation of material.

This is a story of abuse of power and as such those providing information wish to distance themselves from further abuse of power. That is why we fiercely protect sources, but we would not run a story without them. It is why, in a story such as this, confidentiality is necessary.

26 February: ‘Review could cause more harm than good’

Law firm Russell McVeagh announced an external inquiry into itself on Friday, after more than a week of controversy over how it handled complaints by summer clerks of sexual assault and harassment by its male staff in Wellington two years ago.

Here, two lawyers specialising in legal ethics and employment law, Kathryn Dalziel and Stephanie Dyhrberg, examine the wisdom of what Russell McVeagh announced – and set out in bullet points what it should be doing.

26 February: Law firm faces new sex claims

A university law lecturer has revealed new details of historical sexual misconduct at law firm Russell McVeagh – this time involving Māori women students being invited to the firm’s bar and included in binge-drinking and sex in a boardroom after a seminar.

The lecturer, Khylee Quince, took complaints from a senior woman student at the University of Auckland to Russell McVeagh after the incident, but was told the sex was consensual and the two 19-year-old women involved were adult and needed to take responsibility for their own drinking.

She has spoken exclusively to Newsroom after posting details of the incident and the firm and university’s lack of follow-up on her Facebook page.

Her statement comes in the wake of the scandal over allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assaults against summer clerks at the same firm’s Wellington office two years ago.

Russell McVeagh issued a statement yesterday acknowledging incidents of “poor behaviour involving consensual sexual events, including on our premises” over the past 20 years.

For the first time it accepted such misconduct had occurred at partner level. The statement said sexual misconduct allegations of this type had been resolved by “termination of employment or a partner departing” describing that as “action appropriate to the severity of the misconduct”.

The incident Khylee Quince has detailed occurred in the early 2000s in the firm’s Auckland office and is one of six separate incidents involving Russell McVeagh male lawyers that Newsroom has been informed of and is investigating. These involve several men who have gone on to achieve high prominence or influence in the law.

Lawyer Linda Clark adds her views at The Spinoff: How the legal profession has excused and minimised the Russell McVeagh scandal:

It’s the biggest scandal to rock the legal profession in years. Yet the official response to the Russell McVeagh revelations been so woefully inadequate, says special counsel Linda Clark.

I work with a group of simply terrific young women. They are bright, engaging, hard working and professional. These women – and so many others like them – need to feel supported by the legal profession and in particular by senior lawyers and partners. They need to feel secure enough to talk about harassment without fear. They need to know that disclosing an incident of harassment won’t cost them their job. They need to know that the profession won’t try to minimise what happened to them, or find ways of excusing the behaviour. They need to know that they will be heard.

So far, the legal profession has struggled to provide the leadership these young women deserve.

The Law Society issued a statement last week, crafted in the kind of passive vanilla sentences so favoured by my profession.

‘The disclosures over the past week will have made every lawyer in New Zealand consider their workplace and also their profession,’ the Society said. Yes, indeed.

Lawyers are experts at ‘considering’. But, as we now know, not so expert at a range of really important other things, like keeping young women safe at work, or being proactive to ensure allegations of misconduct (or possibly crimes) are investigated quickly and thoroughly, or even – and I’m not being glib – knowing how to drink alcohol without being a creep.

In recent years, a number of law firms have developed diversity programmes, seminars targeted for women, engaged consultants to educate partners about unconscious bias. I have participated and even led some of these. They demonstrate a genuine commitment in the profession to support and encourage women to progress.

But in conversations with young women lawyers this week it has been truly depressing to see how those initiatives – as welcome as they are – have not moved the dial.

To fix that the profession needs to be honest with itself. It needs to listen to young women and it needs to do more (much more) to ensure these women are not subjected to harassment, unwanted touching or assault. If they are, then the profession needs to call out the perpetrators without delay, even the so-called good guys.

That’s a big ask.

Lawyers are generally very good at protecting themselves, legally. But Russell McVeagh and other firms are under increasing pressure to address this properly and publicly.

If the stories keep coming out without being adequately addressed, and without ” the profession needs to call out the perpetrators without delay”, then the whole profession is tainted.

RNZ this morning: Sexual misconduct in law firms an ‘open secret’ for decades

Several Victoria University law students on internships at Russell McVeagh have complained of being sexually assaulted by lawyers two years ago.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, AUT senior law lecturer Khylee Quince said that some years ago a student had told her of an evening drinking session at Russell McVeagh’s Auckland office which ended with staff having sex on the boardroom table with several students.

Ms Quince said the reason why she decided to speak out was because it was an “open secret” that those sort of things had gone on in big law companies for years.

Khylee Quince told Morning Report she’s had dozens of messages since going public at the weekend.

“Lots of survivor stories, ranging from the very serious to the quite bizarre, behaviours around humiliation and forcibly embarrassing young women for fun.”

Ms Quince said the Auckland incidents had been a wake-up call to the university in advising students about alcohol and looking after themselves, although interns continued to go to the law firm.

This issue looks like it isn’t going to go away easily.

Political votes don’t exonerate criminal behaviour

Donald Trump’s PR claims that being voted president exonerates him of any responsibility for allegations of sexual impropriety.

Politico: Sanders says 2016 victory ‘answered’ allegations against Trump

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doubling down on her argument that Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory “answered” groping allegations made during the campaign.

“The people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process,” Sanders told reporters Monday, hours after three of Trump’s accusers went on television to revive their claims.

“The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process,” Sanders added.

They will obviously want to move on, but this is a nonsense claim from Sanders. People voted for Trump and didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for a wide range of reasons.

And for a start, more people voted against Trump than for him, he trailed Clinton by nearly three million votes overall. He became president because more people voted for him than Clinton in a handful of key states.

If you wanted to be cynical you could say that his claims Clinton was a criminal and should be locked up won over a number of allegations against him – not just a case of the least worst won, but the perceived least criminal.

But that doesn’t make the allegations go away. Neither does it stop him from blatantly lying again.

Trump has a growing problem. He is trying to win his case in the court of public opinion, but legal processes don’t work that way.

And he seems to be losing on public opinion anyway – the gap between approval and disapproval of him as President is at a record high.

RCP President Trump Job Approval:

  • Approve 37.3%  (46.1% voted for him for president)
  • Disapprove 57.7%
  • Spread -20.4%

Trump is currently supporting Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, another person under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

Reuters: Voters head to polls in Alabama race with high stakes for Trump

Voters in Alabama headed to the polls on Tuesday in a hard-fought U.S. Senate race with high stakes for President Donald Trump, who has endorsed fellow Republican Roy Moore in spite of allegations against him of sexual misconduct toward teenagers.

The race will test Trump’s political clout after nearly a year in office, with his approval ratings at historically low levels. A win by Moore would strengthen Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, some of whose leaders have not backed Moore.

A Jones victory would mean trouble for Trump and his populist political base. It also would narrow the Republicans’ already slim majority in the U.S. Senate, possibly making it harder for Trump to advance his policy agenda.

“Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!” Trump said in a Twitter post in which he criticized Jones as a potential “puppet” of the Democratic congressional leadership.

Typical irony from Trump, who is campaigning for his own puppet.

Moore told the rally on Monday: “I want to make America great again with President Trump. I want America great, but I want America good, and she can’t be good until we go back to God.”

Good grief.

A Fox News Poll conducted on Thursday and released on Monday put Jones ahead of Moore, with Jones potentially taking 50 percent of the vote and Moore 40 percent. Fox said 8 percent of voters were undecided and 2 percent supported another candidate.

An average of recent polls by the RealClearPolitics website showed Moore ahead by a slight margin of 2.2 percentage points.

No Democrat has held a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama in more than 20 years. In 2016, Trump won the state by 28 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

That result should be known later today.

A win to Moore won’t necessarily be a good thing for the Republicans or Trump.

And like Trump, a win for Moore won’t exonerate him from legal claims of sexual misconduct against him.

US ambassador to the UN says women accusers should be heard

Nikki Haley has said that women who have accused President Trump and others of sexual misconduct “should be heard”.

This is surprising. She is a Trump administration spokesperson as the US ambassador to the United Nations, but domestic accusations of sexual misconduct are outside her responsibilities.

NY Times: Nikki Haley Says Women Who Accuse Trump of Misconduct ‘Should Be Heard’

Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” a surprising break from the administration’s longstanding assertion that the allegations are false and that voters rightly dismissed them when they elected Mr. Trump.

Ms. Haley, a former governor and one of the highest-ranking women in Mr. Trump’s administration, refocused attention on the allegations against the president by insisting that his accusers should be treated no differently than the scores of women who have come forward in recent weeks with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct against other men.

“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Ms. Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”

Her remarks are the latest indication that the president’s behavior toward women — more than a dozen have accused him of unwanted touching, forcible kissing or groping — may not escape renewed scrutiny.

Democrats have appeared determined to grab the moral and political high ground, largely forcing their accused party members to resign.

Republicans have been more divided: Even as some accused members have stepped down, the party has largely stood by Mr. Trump. And it remains bitterly split over how to respond to the case of Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of molesting an underage girl and attempting to date other teenagers when he was in his 30s.

Some of the women who first accused Mr. Trump during the campaign last year have expressed a renewed desire to press their case. Three of them will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.

So far, though, the upheaval in societal norms about sexual conduct in the workplace has swirled around the president but left him largely unscathed.

Undaunted, the president has used Twitter to mock other men who have been accused, including Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who announced his plans to resign after several harassment allegations. Mr. Trump has defended and endorsed Mr. Moore, calling the claims against him “troubling” but insisting that he is needed in the Senate to advance the Republican agenda.

Through it all, the White House has repeatedly sought to deflect and discredit any attempt to revisit the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump crudely bragged about kissing women and grabbing their private parts, or to examine again the allegations from the women who came forward weeks before the 2016 election to accuse Mr. Trump of crude sexual behavior.

In recent months, Mr. Trump has privately been casting doubt that the “Access Hollywood” tape is authentic, despite publicly acknowledging shortly after its release in October 2016 that “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Trump’s past and his hypocrisy and his may yet prove to be too big to sweep under the White House carpet.

The tape suggests Trump crudely accosted women, and a number of women have accused him of unwelcome advances and actions. Actual criminal behaviour is not proven at this stage.

#MeToo strikes in Washington

Apart from a certain president it seems that sexual harassment, assault and inappropriate behaviour has struck Washington, showing signs that it is now politically toxic.

CNN: The #metoo movement comes to Washington

Consider what has happened in the last week alone (in reverse chronological order):

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R) is resigning from Congress, as the House Ethics Committee announced tonight that it will investigate whether he engaged in “conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”

In a statement announcing his resignation, Franks acknowledged that he learned this week that the committee was looking into complaints from two female former staffers.”Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others,” Franks said in the statement.

* Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) announced on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon that he plans to resign by the end of the year after a series of allegations that he groped and forcible kissed multiple women.

* Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D) resigned his seat on Tuesday following a series of allegations of sexual harassment from former staffers.

* Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) was revealed by The New York Times last Friday to have used $84,000 in taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. The House Ethics Committee has established a subcommittee to investigate Farenthold’s alleged actions as well.

And that list doesn’t even take into account the allegations that continue to swirl around Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore as the December 12 special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions draws ever closer.

And that president has chosen to openly back Moore – Trump urges Alabama voters to back Roy Moore:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday voiced support for Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct, during a rally that foreshadowed themes for next year’s midterm elections.

”Get out and vote for Roy Moore,” Trump said ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The race in the heavily Republican state heated up last month with accusations that Moore sexually assaulted or behaved inappropriately with several women when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Moore, a conservative Christian and former state judge, denies the allegations, and Trump formally endorsed him on Monday.

Trying to avoid losing an election is still a priority for trump, going against the growing wave of disapproval of sexual misconduct.

Stream of revelations of abuse of power and women

The floodgates may not have opened fully on revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct of prominent men in the US, but a trickle seems to have become a stream.

On the current RealClear Politics front page there are numerous stories about men abusing power and abusing women.

The trickle started with Harvey Weinstein: After Weinstein, a Cultural Revolution (National Review):

It’s been nearly two months, and a geologic age, since the New York Times ran its initial report on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation.

It’s difficult to think of any piece of journalism that has ever wrought such an instant change in American life.

First, more allegations against Weinstein flooded in, and then against other Hollywood, media, and political figures, many of them rapidly defenestrated upon credible allegations of sexual misconduct.

A heightened awareness around sexual harassment is roiling multiple industries in what is a low-grade cultural revolution.

But the stage was set last year: Congress Should Investigate Trump’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct (RCP):

Powerful men with long histories of alleged sexual harassment or assault are finally being held accountable — except one. That would be President Trump.

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said on the “Access Hollywood” tape, referring to a woman he had just spotted. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the [vagina]. You can do anything.”

Thirteen women have gone on the record to say that is how Trump operated, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Eight of them — who say that Trump kissed them, groped them or both, without invitation or permission — have corroboration, meaning they told other people about the incidents before going public. Similar stories told by the other five accusers are not corroborated.

Trump won election despite the allegations, but his victory did not erase his history. Now, virtually overnight, the paradigm for thinking about and dealing with sexual harassment has changed. A kind of Judgment Day has arrived for men who thought they had gotten away with their misdeeds.

And there’s ample history: Al Gore’s dark past is an inconvenient truth (The OCR):

It seems like every time you open the morning paper, more powerful men are being accused of groping, raping and generally treating their female colleagues in inappropriate and degrading ways.

You don’t have to look any farther than the pages of the New York Times or the airwaves of MSNBC to hear liberal voices openly opining that they blew it in the 1990s by not calling on former President Bill Clinton to step down after he admitted to an ongoing sexual relationship with a much younger intern.

However, one prominent name has managed to stay off of our radar, and I don’t know why. I am, of course, speaking of former Vice President Al Gore.

Back in October of 2006, a Portland, Ore. masseuse accused the former vice president of “unwanted sexual contact” while performing a massage on him in a hotel room.

Students: There Are No Safe Spaces (NewRepublic):

If we have learned anything from the ongoing, seemingly endless tide of sexual harassment allegations against famous, powerful men, it is that there is no space that is truly safe.

It is not a coincidence that this flood has come now, not just with Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump in the White House, but after years of public denunciations of the very idea of safe spaces. Liberal and conservative commentators alike have written reams of nearly identical columns lamenting the desire, on the part of today’s young people, for a place they might be safe from sexism, racism, and harassment.

A journalist: Charlie Rose, before and after the fall (News Observer):

North Carolina was proud of Charlie Rose. A native, a graduate of Duke University and the Duke law school, and someone who for a substantial two decades conducted perhaps the most thoughtful interview show on television through his own company.

Now, of course, Rose’s career has ended in flames after sexual harassment allegations from several women. It’s hard to imagine the 75-year-old New York-based media and social star will be able to restore his public image.

A Senator:  Al Franken vows to regain Minnesota’s trust after harassment allegations (Star Tribune):

Another politician: Capitol Police investigating whether nude photo of House Republican was a crime (The Hill):

The Capitol Police are investigating whether the unauthorized release of a nude photo of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) online was a crime.

A nude photo of Barton appeared on social media anonymously earlier in the week. Barton on Wednesday acknowledged that the photo was of him but said he did not release the photo and the person who did not only violated his privacy but may have committed “a potential crime against me.”

Barton emphasized that the women he was involved with in the past, one of whom may have shared the photo, were above the age of consent and willing participants.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement.

That may be just embarrassing rather than criminal.

And a candidate:  U.S. Senate candidate Moore’s spokesman resigns as allegations roil campaign (Reuters):

The communications director for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has resigned amid the Alabama Republican’s efforts to combat allegations of sexual misconduct that have roiled his campaign.
News of the departure of John Rogers came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump defended Moore from accusations by multiple women that Moore pursued them as teenagers when he was in his 30s, including one who has said he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14.

Moore has denied any wrongdoing and has accused the women of conspiring with Democrats, media outlets and establishment Republicans in an effort to tarnish his reputation. Reuters has not independently confirmed any of the accusations.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday, however, that he might yet campaign for Moore, who he said “totally denies” the misconduct allegations, and that Democratic nominee Doug Jones was a liberal who should not be elected.

The president’s stance stood in contrast to the reactions from most Republicans in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have called on Moore to step aside.

Blaming the media and their opponents may be wearing a bit thin, especially when allegations of abuses are spread across the spectrum.

When the rot is defended from the top, and the top may be rotten as well, there is some way to go but the stream may become a floodgate that can’t be held back, even by Trump.

Back to Rich Lowry at National Review:

Now, it is the predators — no matter how entrenched and successful — who are in a precarious position. They can fall from grace within hours of credible accounts of wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter how abjectly they apologize or promise to get therapy and engage in self-reflection. They are powerless before their accusers.

This dynamic can go too far. It is important that accusations always are evaluated for credibility, and the accused get their hearing.

But the model, a disgraceful abuse of power too long tolerated, is ending. Good riddance.

The abuse of power bubble may at last be bursting.

While there are a growing number of accusations those in the firing line are only a small minority of politicians, journalists and movie moguls. The majority, possibly the vast majority, are innocent of abusing their power or abusing women.

But there must be a few others who are waiting, wondering if they will become the next headline.

Nurse in ‘professional boundaries” disgrace

A male nurse has broken Nursing Council rules barring having sexual relations with mental health patients but the disciplinary system seems to be mainifestly inadequate.

Rachel Smalley comments on ” a story that is making my blood boil at the moment” in “Professional boundaries”.

She has a major depressive disorder. She has anxiety and panic attacks associated with that. She has a history of suicidal tendencies and that tendency increases when she’s under stress, and she also has some serious alcohol-related issues.

You name it; this woman is not in a good place.

So she’s being treated for her condition and one of the people helping with her care is a male nurse. He is directly involved in looking after her.

So this nurse – according to a report by the health and disability commissioner – he seduced his patient, and he seduced her with wine, the report says.

He turned up at her house – in his district health board car – and pulled out a bottle of wine. They drank that wine and then they had sex.

And then he left.

Then, he came back later in the day and they had sex again. He said he would come back again on another day and he would bring more wine. He said – and I quote – that he “fancied her”

This is disgraceful and unprofessional conduct.

The nurse admitted – once it all came to light – that he knew the woman was vulnerable, and had mental health issues and problems with alcohol. He knew all of that.

The health and disability commissioner, Anthony Hill, said in his report that the nurse had “sexually exploited” his patient. Sexual exploitation, he said.

And so what is the next step? Dismissal? No.

The recommendation is that the nurse undertakes further training on “professional boundaries”. The report also suggested the nursing council might want to consider a review of his competence.

It’s staggering, isn’t it?

This man has failed at the very first hurdle of nursing – his role is to care for someone who is in medical need, not exploit them for his own sexual gratification.

Surely that’s grounds for dismissal? Why would you allow this man to carry on treating, in particular, women with mental health issues?

The nurse, for his part, has apologised.

He said sorry, and there it rests.

This seems to be a very soft approach to serious misconduct. He couldn’t have behaved much worse.

But it may result in appropriate action, eventually. NZ Herald reports that Nurse may lose licence over sex with mentally ill woman.

A forensic mental health nurse who had sex with a recent patient after giving her wine quit his district health board job as soon as he was outed.

Within two months, during which he underwent professional counselling, he had resumed nursing and at present does casual work in aged and dementia care.

It’s staggering that he was given “professional counselling” and was allowed to continue working.

Now he is at risk of having his nursing licence cancelled, following a Health and Disability Commissioner investigation that found he sexually exploited the woman and breached the Code of Patients’ Rights.

He is at risk? What about the patient being at risk? And other patients?

Mr Hill has asked the Director of Proceedings to consider the case. The independent prosecutor has not yet decided whether to take any action, which could include laying charges at the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Hill has also asked the Nursing Council to review the nurse’s competence and recommended that he write an apology to the patient and do some training on professional boundaries.

That sounds like a totally inadequare response.

The Herald lists Nursing Council rules

  • Nurses are banned from sexual or intimate behaviour or relationships with patients and those close to them.
  • Sexual relationships with former patients may be inappropriate regardless of when the nursing care ceased.
  • Sexual or intimate relationships might never be appropriate if the former patient had been mentally unwell.

“An apology to the patient and do some training on professional boundaries” seems manifestly inadequate.