Panel at U of M discusses wave of sexual misconduct allegations

The latest allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior come as advocates who work with victims are worried about fatigue and that all of this could become white noise.

At a sexual harassment policies panel at the University of Minnesota Caroline Palmer of Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault shared her concern.

“I think we are at a risky point right now,” said Palmer. “And as each case keeps coming through people I think are getting hardened to it.”

What began with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has led to more local allegations of inappropriate behavior against state lawmakers, including Representative Tony Cornish and Senator Dan Schoen, and now public radio icon Garrison Keillor, too.

Palmer says she fears it would all lead to public withdrawal.

“It’s going to be, first of all, that people aren’t going to care anymore or take it that seriously because here comes another sexual harassment case,” said Palmer. “Or, why did you wait so long? Or, did you bring this up because everyone else is bringing it up and you want attention. I mean you can hear how all of these conversations could come up.”  

It’s especially problematic since many harassment cases are difficult to try in court, which makes the court of public opinion a powerful and perhaps fleeting platform.

“I just hope the general public can recognize that for victim survivors that every one of these stories matters and to take it seriously and to support them,” she said.

Palmer says she does not believe we’re seeing the end of harassment allegations and it is likely more stories will be coming out.