Here and there, I've been reading some of the written apologies from men who stand accused of sexual harassment. The latest is from Charlie Rose.
The statement is just vague enough to be unclear as to whether Rose was confronted previously and whether he ever took the complaints seriously when he was confronted. My bet would be that he was confronted, but it has taken this public revelation, at just the right time, to bring about anything that looks like contrition.
In case you're wondering what "insensitive and inappropriate" means:
The claims made against Rose, 75, in The Post's report included groping female acquaintances and walking around naked in their presence. The women were either employees at the "Charlie Rose" show or aspired to work for the show in allegations spanning from the late 1990s to 2011, according to the newspaper. Three women were on the record and five were anonymous.
Two of the women The Post interviewed, Kyle Godfrey-Ryan and Megan Creydt, confirmed their accounts to NBC News on Monday night.
Since Rose disputes some but not all of the accusations, we don't know what he's admitting to.
This reminded me of something that happened at a job long ago. A supervisor was sexually harassing multiple people who were near the bottom of the totem pole, and complaints were repeatedly dismissed with hostility. At one juncture, someone with more power decided they could take the harasser's position if they made something out of the complaints while the harasser was on vacation, and that's when the whole thing blew up.
When the harasser returned from vacation, he was stunned by what had transpired while he was gone. He made a point of visiting everyone's offices where he had individual talks with us about the accusations. I wasn't a victim, but I was a witness like just about everyone else. The guy had been out of control, so his bad behavior was hard to miss.
The harasser was thoroughly contrite, and presented himself as bewildered by the accusations, as if he had no idea where they were coming from. I told him that I was bewildered that he was bewildered because I knew many people had complained to him and to others in authority, and I witnessed his efforts to silence the accusers. What was most strange was that I had even told him on several occasions that he was out of line, even though he was someone who had authority over me. On one occasion that I confronted him, he threatened my job, and my response was something to the effect of "well you do what you think you have to do, and then I'll do what I have to do." I didn't know what I meant by that, but whatever it meant to him, he backed off.
His bewildered contrition is what got me. He'd been confronted before. The only difference this time was that he was about to suffer real consequences.
He didn't lose his job, but he lost that position. It was disheartening to see that the only reason the complaints finally got any traction was that it became convenient to one of his professional competitors. Nonetheless, it was right that he got his comeuppance. Or did he?
Several years later I learned that he was an adjunct faculty member at a university, so I read his reviews at Rate My Professors. In the ratings, there were arguments about whether his behavior was sexually inappropriate. I guess I wasn't shocked.