April 1, 2019

A second woman has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate touching.

Amy Lappos, a former aide for Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), told the Hartford Courant on Monday that Biden grabbed her at a political event in 2009. "It wasn't sexual, but he did grab me by the head," she said. "He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth."

Lappos made her accusation after former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores said on Friday that Biden touched her and kissed her on the back of the head without permission at an event in 2014. Lappos, the Hartford Courant reports, subsequently shared her allegation on Facebook, writing, "I can speak from experience when I say it's an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable."

Lappos said that "there's a line of respect" and that crossing it is "not grandfatherly" but is "sexism or misogyny." She also said that if Biden "truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running."

Biden, who has not yet officially entered the 2020 race, did not comment on the new allegation, but he said in a statement on Sunday that "not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately." After the initial allegation from Flores, some Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) had come to Biden's defense by saying that "one allegation is not disqualifying."

Brendan Morrow

January 24, 2019

In August, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and husband Gail Ernst filed for divorce, and on Monday, the Des Moines alternative newspaper Cityview published details from an affidavit Joni Ernst filed in October. A judge sealed most of the divorce documents Tuesday, at Ernst's request. In the affidavit, Ernst said her ex-husband had been physically abusive, and she elaborated in an interview with Bloomberg News published Wednesday night. Ernst also disclosed that she was raped in college by a "physically and sexually abusive" man she was in a relationship with. "At times as she described her past, Ernst cried so hard that she was barely intelligible," Bloomberg reports.

"I didn't want to share it with anybody, and in the era of hashtag-MeToo survivors, I always believed that every person is different and they will confront their demons when they're ready," Ernst told Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs on Tuesday night. "And I was not ready." Ernst, the No. 4 Senate Republican, dismissed the idea that her support for President Trump should be tied to her personal experiences. "It's outrageous to suggest that anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault should therefore be a Hillary Clinton supporter," she said.

Ernst, 48, also told Bloomberg she didn't technically turn down Trump's invitation to be his running mate, as her affidavit attests. After meeting with Trump about joining the ticket, "I told him I needed to think about it," she said, and later withdrew from consideration. She also said Gail, 65, only physically abused her that one time, in 2007 or 2008, but it was "very sudden and very violent." He "grabbed me by the throat with his hands and threw me on the landing floor," Ernst said. "And then he pounded my head ... on the landing." After counseling, "he said that it would never happen again and blah-blah-blah. And it didn't," she said. "But there was always that underlying threat." Read more at Bloomberg News. Peter Weber

December 17, 2018

A second actress has accused actor Geoffrey Rush of sexual harassment.

Yael Stone, who plays Lorna Morello on Orange is the New Black, accused Rush of misconduct in an interview with The New York Times Sunday. When they both starred in the play The Diary of a Madman in 2010 and 2011, Stone says Rush "danced naked in front of her in their dressing room, used a mirror to watch her while she showered, and sent her occasionally erotic text messages." At the time, Stone was 25 and Rush was 59. Three people who worked with Stone on the play backed up her story, as did several friends and family members.

Rush denied Stone's allegations, saying they are "incorrect" and "in some instances have been taken completely out of context." He characterized the situation as Stone being "upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work."

Because of Australia's strict defamation laws, Stone told the Times she was terrified to come forward and only did so because a law firm has agreed to represent her pro bono. Rush was previously accused of sexual harassment by an actress he worked with on a play in 2015 and 2016. Eryn Jean Norvill told The Daily Telegraph in 2017 that Rush touched her without her consent and sent her inappropriate text messages; she wasn't originally named in the story, which has since been removed from the publication's website. Rush denied that allegation and sued The Daily Telegraph for defamation. A decision in that case has not yet been reached.

Stone told the Times she is "not looking for punishment" by coming forward but that she hopes "to change my industry and to work toward healing and growth." Brendan Morrow

December 2, 2018

Science entertainer Neil deGrasse Tyson on Saturday posted a lengthy statement on Facebook denying a trio of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him. He decried presumption of guilt in #MeToo accusations, pledged to cooperate with an impartial investigation, and offered a competing account of each scenario.

"I’m the accused, so why believe anything I say? Why believe me at all?" Tyson concluded. "That brings us back to the value of an independent investigation."

One accuser says Tyson groped her at a professional event; another says he exhibited a pattern of "predatory tendencies" when they worked together; and a third alleges he drugged and raped her when they were both grad students in 1984.

"My experience with [Tyson] is he's not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy," said Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University and the accuser who says Tyson groped her. "I think that he is someone that could use his position of fame and power in a way to try and take advantage."

The allegations are under investigation by Fox Entertainment and National Geographic, which air Tyson's show. Read Tyson's full Facebook statement here, and read the original allegations reports at Patheos here and here. Bonnie Kristian

November 6, 2018

Sports apparel company Under Armour no longer permits employees to charge visits to strip clubs on company credit cards, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday in a story that also alleged the trips were just one aspect of a workplace culture that has been "demeaning" to women.

Under Armour employees reportedly had a habit of going to strip clubs together and with pro athletes after business and social events. More broadly, more than a dozen current and former Under Armour employees told the Journal, female employees have been subject to disrespectful treatment including harassment by male executives and inclusion in an annual company party dependent on their appearance.

Under Armour said in a statement it acknowledges "systemic inequality in the global workplace" and pledges to "do better" to create a "respectful and empowering environment." Bonnie Kristian

Editor's note: Kelley McCormick, senior vice president of corporate communications for Under Armour, said the company formalized a policy earlier this year emphasizing that the use of company funds for adult entertainment "was not tolerated." An earlier version of this story suggested the policy change came about as a result of the Journal's report; we regret the error.

October 11, 2018

Part of the sexual assault charges against former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was dropped on Thursday, after investigators reportedly found some inconsistencies in the statements from one accuser.

A Manhattan judge dropped one of the six charges against him, The New York Times reports. The other five charges, to which Weinstein pleaded not guilty, still stand. Weinstein's attorney previously argued that the grand jury that indicted him didn't see some key emails from aspiring actress Lucia Evans, who says Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.

Weinstein is out on bail after his arrest and indictment in May. He was charged with a first-degree criminal sex act related to Evans' allegations, as well as other alleged assaults against three other women. He has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and reportedly plans to mount a defense that describes "long-term, consensual, intimate relationships" with those who allege sexual assault.

Though Weinstein's attorneys will likely use the dismissed charge to cast doubt on the rest of the allegations, police spokesman Phillip Walzak said last week that law enforcement "is fully confident in the overall case it has pursued against Mr. Weinstein. The evidence shows that the criminal case against him is strong." Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

October 8, 2018

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) fancies himself a candidate who says what "a lot of other people don't dare say — but think." Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) disagrees that his views on the #MeToo movement are mainstream.

Cramer is running to unseat Heitkamp in the upcoming midterm elections. His incendiary comments have been a major part of his bid, The New York Times explained Monday, often putting him in direct conflict with other lawmakers. When he said in a recent interview that #MeToo is a "movement toward victimization," Heitkamp offered a sharp rebuke.

The Republican lawmaker disliked "that you're just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened," and invoked his wife, daughters, and mother to say that they were too "tough" to join in on the "ugly" movement regarding sexual misconduct.

"It's wonderful his mom hasn't" had an experience with sexual assault, said Heitkamp in response to his comments. "My mom did ... and it didn't make her less strong." Heitkamp became emotional in insisting that "it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim." She chastised Cramer for his dismissal. "To suggest that this movement doesn't make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate," she said.

Heitkamp was reportedly facing pressure to support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed on Saturday. She ultimately decided not to vote in his favor. Cramer said last month that allegations against Kavanaugh are "absurd." Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

October 5, 2018

Surprise, surprise: Bill O'Reilly has a hot take on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who settled a sexual misconduct case against him for $32 million in 2016, tweeted on Friday that the "left wing mob" unfairly insists all allegations of sexual assault "must be believed, no matter if the allegations are denied."

Though nobody was clamoring for it, given O'Reilly's own history of sexual harassment allegations, the conservative analyst penned a column detailing his opinion on the accusations against Kavanaugh. "There isn't a man in the country safe from misconduct allegations," he wrote. "Not one."

O'Reilly claimed last year that no one ever complained about his behavior when he worked at Fox News, using the assertion as evidence that he was wrongfully fired from the organization. NBC's Megyn Kelly disputed that, saying she did complain about him when she worked at Fox. But even today, O'Reilly is arguing that "America will become an unjust nation if stuff like this continues." He claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that most Americans don't believe the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

"I never thought I'd see this in my country," he continued, lamenting the "morons" who believe people who come forward with accusations of sexual assault without "due process." Just as O'Reilly raged against God, The New York Times, and liberals over his own firing, he's now furious on Kavanaugh's behalf. "I am angry about it," he wrote. "Very angry." Summer Meza

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