The #MeToo movement gained such tremendous momentum in the second half of 2018 that its members were named the TIME People of the Year. Not only has the movement had a significant social and cultural impact and brought some important discussions about sexual harassment and assault to the forefront, but it has also begun to affect legal cases.
The recent retrial of Bill Cosby for sexual assault ended with a guilty verdict on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault. The original trial ended in a mistrial last June, just before the #MeToo movement began, but the retrial occurred in the aftermath of many of the revelations of the movement, including the downfall of producer Harvey Weinstein.
With how big of a factor jury selection is in the outcome of a trial, the judges presiding over both the original trial and the retrial had to consider whether potential jurors were are of the #MeToo movement and the various sexual assault allegations in the entertainment industry. Almost all of them did. The second trial had nearly identical racial and gender makeup but skewed a bit younger, which given the makeup of the #MeToo movement was likely better for the prosecution.
Willingness to listen to the victim
Perhaps the biggest influence the #MeToo movement has had on legal cases is that now many defendants are having a harder time simply brushing off charges with denials or by attempting to smear the victim. This will continue to be a go-to tactic, but as people have more frank conversations about sexual harassment and assault, they will in turn become more willing to listen to the victims’ side of the story and give it the proper consideration.
It will be interesting to see how high-profile sexual assault and harassment cases continue to be handled in the future as the movement matures.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, consult a knowledgeable Dallas whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.