#MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has created a flood of claims, public accusations and predicted denials.  No one could have suspected the extent of the issue.  Many of the claims involve alleged conduct that occurred years or even decades before the claim is made, and this raises difficult and unusual legal issues for the participants in legal cases.

The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments recently against a former judge accused of assaulting a teenage witness 37-years ago when he was a prosecutor and she was 16 (age of consent back then).  Under consideration is a law allowing those who claim they were abused to sue decades later.  In this case, the accused acknowledged the act, but not the crime, saying it was consensual – his lawyers are asking for dismissal saying the claims are false and too old.  On the other side, the victim remembers otherwise and is standing by her virtues and asking for $25 million in damages.

One side says this law allows “victims to find justice,” while the other side argues that the law will “revive any time-barred complaint in the history of the state.”  Utah was founded in 1896.  A deadline for a decision in this case has not been set, but as one of the justices said, “These are really, really important questions we’re being asked.”

Are some of the responses reflexive? What constitutes abuse, and are there degrees of it? Should historical context be considered when determining severity? Is redemption possible?

Nathan A. Crane