Actor and tv host Ryan Seacrest penned an important opinion piece about #MeToo and what happens when a man is falsely accused.
Seacrest underscores the presumption of innocence for the accused and the importance of swift and thorough investigations for both accusers and the accused.
The movement to expose and deal with sexual harassment in the workplace has been a powerful moment and overdue.
However, in the tsunami of allegations that have arisen (particularly in the media and entertainment), the importance of full investigations has gotten lost. Sadly, there are people who will take advantage of this moment for their own gain. The consequences could be devastating.
Seacrest, who was the face of “American Idol” and brought us “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” just opened up about allegations against him:
To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching. I’ve always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion. Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds.
He disclosed the claims which his network investigated and found to be unsubstantiated with no evidence of wrongdoing on Seacrest’s part.
Seacrest was relieved no doubt, but reminds us of something critical:
At a time when improper interactions between men and women, particularly in the workplace, are part of a national conversation, we must find a way to ensure that everyone — the public, private and public institutions, accusers and alleged accused — is given the opportunity for a swift and fair review.
The #MeToo movement runs different risks including backfiring on women and being politicized as my colleague Carrie pointed out recently. However, we also risk irreparable damage to the careers, reputation, and families of those who are falsely accused.
While we are encouraged that the victims of wrongdoing feel empowered to come forward, we cannot ignore that there may be others who cry wolf for nefarious purposes and that should not be tolerated. Kudos to Ryan Seacrest for calling them out.