General Question

janbb's avatar

Does an apology and admission after sexual abuse allegations mitigate the guilt?

Asked by janbb (59205points) November 16th, 2017

i’m thinking of Roy Moore who is fighting the allegations tooth and nail and Al Franken who has admitted and apologized. I am trying to be by-partisan and I am appalled at both. Weighing in my mind whether there is much difference or whether Franken should resign. I do feel his political future as a candidate is over.

Your thoughts?

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42 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

No. They only do it to save face after they got caught. They did literally NOTHING all those years where no one came forward.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This question is actually quite difficult. It hinges on whether or not a person can be rehabilitated. Personally, I believe rehabilitation is possible. The nature of the rehabilitation opens up an entirely new question, and whether or not the rehabilitation was sufficient opens up even more questions.

filmfann's avatar

Al Franken has admitted to it, which was an easy decision since there is a photograph showing him groping her. He has said he was trying to be funny, but now admits it was disgusting behavior regardless.
Moore wasn’t a comedian. He was an associate district attorney. Should he be held to a higher standard? I’m not sure, but since Roy Moore was targeting underage high school girls, I say this is a more vile act.

Mariah's avatar

I think Franken needs to resign, but I’m not happy about it. It’ll be a disaster for healthcare if that seat flips. But his actions were unacceptable.

janbb's avatar

@filmfann I’m not asking people to decide who was more guilty of those two but to weigh the question with those as two examples. Kevin Spacey is another who apologized after being outed.

@Mariah But at least Bob Menendez’s seat will probably still be Democratic.

janbb's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake But wouldn’t an apology and presumed rehabilitation mean much more before public allegations are made? Just exploring the issue here.

Darth_Algar's avatar

With Franken I’m not sure there’s much guilt aside from an insensitive photo done in bad taste.

janbb's avatar

Darth Read the whole story. If she is right, he was very boorish at the least.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’ve read the whole story, I’ve viewed the photograph in question, I’ve even watched her press conference and I find her unconvincing. I also (and I know I’ll probably be accused of victim blaming here, so be it) find the particular timing and the person making the accusation (a Fox News bunny and frequent Hannity guest) a bit suspect.

janbb's avatar

Got you. There seem to be ferrets out on both sides. Isn’t politics wonderful? But he didn’t deny it.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No, he didn’t deny the photograph, but you can also tell from the photo that he’s not actually making contact with her. Stupid? Yes. Insensitive? Yes. In bad taste? Yes. But sexual assault? I think that’s stretching it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb It is best to apologize immediately for a wrong no matter who one is. We don’t all do this all the time. The reasons are myriad for a lack of a quick apology. If rehabilitation were impossible, the entire planet would be doomed.

Is Roy Moore capable of rehabilitation? Yes, but he would have to show a remarkable about-face. Kevin Spacey, too.

The real difficulty becomes judging the rehabilitation. Who gets to decide if an abuser is sufficiently altered and will not repeat an offense?

filmfann's avatar

@janbb Kevin Spacey is another who apologized after being outed.
Spacey didn’t really apologize. He claimed not to remember, then deflected by announcing he is gay, which I feel is insignificant since he targeted a 14 year old.

kritiper's avatar

All parties should be assumed to be free of guilt until proven guilty. It’s the American way! But, if they apologize, MAYBE it can be forgotten/forgiven.

Aethelwine's avatar

I agree with @Darth_Algar. The woman accusing Franken said she accepts his apology. This happened before Franken was in the senate. I do not think he should lose his job over this.

Darth_Algar's avatar

For what it’s worth Franken himself has said that the Senate Ethics Committee ought to investigate. Sounds like a man who doesn’t have anything to hide or at least is willing to stand up and accept whatever consequences may arise from his actions.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. We must be held accountable for our own actions. Even if it was the lowest, stupidest thing we ever regret doing.

An apology, is as good as it gets, in some cases. Until going back in time, and undoing something is possible.

I hope that all those judging these people are remembering the dumb things that they have done in life. People who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.

I have read the story on Franken, and I don’t consider it similar to the Moore case. I am certainly biased. As mentioned above, “dating” several underage girls, isn’t comparable, IMO…

janbb's avatar

@Darth_Algar But he allegedly forced a kiss on her and thrust his tongue in her mouth. That’s pretty harassing.

Let me be clear, I’m not equating the two as equally bad; I’m just trying to parse whether an apology post outing is sufficient for forgiveness.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Yes, an apology and admission of guilt is absolutely mitigating. It does not erase the past and absolve guil, but it is an opportunity to start being a better person without denying your mistakes.

Compare that to those who deny, smear the victims, blame the press, or brag about their wrongdoing.

janbb's avatar

Here’s a very cogent response from Leeann Tweedum, Franken’s accuser about her response to his apology. She seems to have accepted his apology and states the importance of atonement and acknowledgement. I think she comes across as very credible here.

JLeslie's avatar

It matters what it was, when it was, how old the person is now, etc.

Rape was always rape. It has always been wrong. No apology is enough.

An adult going after a pre-pubescent child in a sexual manner has NEVER been ok in America, ever, as far as I know. It has never been acceptable in our culture and shouldn’t be. I cannot wrap my head around being sexually attracted to a child, and I mostly I just see it as a power thing a purely an assault.

An adult over the age of 25 going after a minor (under 18) is inexcusable also. Forget if the guy or girl is 30 or 40 years old. Seriously, it’s criminal in my mind, and I’m fine digging that up from the past.

But, if someone is 25 and a 16 days they are 21, I’m not going to blame the 25 year old for treating the 16 year old like an adult.

Among adults I have some grey area, especially with sexual “harassment” at work. 50 + years ago when some men used language that made women uncomfortable at work, but was very “normal” I think is crazy to bring up now like it was the end of the world. Who knows if your own fathers, grandfathers, brothers and uncles were doing the same, but also never put a woman in a compromising position so to speak. It’s like saying the slave owners of the past, when slavery was very much in play and legal now should be brought out and jailed. I’m not talking about those who lynched slaves and raped them, but just the owners. Just owning slaves was wrong, but I’m not going to judge those people now.

Also, I’m not sure how annoyed I can be at a man trying to get somewhere with a woman in a social setting. If it’s all verbal, well, men do that. If he starts grabbing, it’s seriously not ok with me, but if you are an adult woman push him off. Especially, in a public place where you don’t need to fear being hurt by him. Many many men try. It’s not ok, but it’s not always criminal. It matters what and how whether it’s worth bringing up 30 years later. Certainly, if he still behaves that way then yes, it’s worth it. If it was something he has realized is wrong and stopped doing, I can’t see being up that he told an off color joke or tried to puruade a girl into bed.

At work, it’s simply awful when men take liberties at touching female colleagues, copping feels, even if they are just roughing your arm, and can be the arm has a sleeve on it. Or, obviously if they threaten you that you will lose your job if you don’t play they should be fired if they are employees. Some of these things I see as criminal.

I saw an apology from a certain actor, I can’t remember which, who seemed to understand why it wasn’t ok what he had done years ago. As far as I’m concerned he is forgiven, because it was so obvious he understood now the woman’s perspective, but he hadn’t raped anyone, I wish I could remember who it was so I could link it. He hadn’t understood previously that his position gave him power that was coercive without him even really trying. Now he understands. He thought women were agreeing of their own free will, but it wasn’t really the case.

Rarebear's avatar

Well, it depends. And to compare Franklin and Moore is ridiculous. Franklin made a stupid mistake in a comedy gag. Moore is a sexual predator of children. (And I’m not a big fan of Franklin, by the way).

JLeslie's avatar

The way I remember it Spacey said he didn’t remember, but that if he did do it he apologizes. He didn’t emphatically deny it, or try to lie about it, unless he flatly does remember and lied about not remembering the specific incident. My feeling was Spacey believed it was definitely possible the accuser’s memory was correct.

janbb's avatar

@Rarebear It’s Franken, not Franklin.

And to compare Franken and Moore is grounds for a discussion; to equate them which I am not doing – as i have stated above – would be ridiculous.

JLeslie's avatar

For the record, that photo that floated around of Ellen Degeneres, I think she was wrong too. Unless she had asked permission. It wouldn’t be easy to tell Ellen, a famous actress, “please don’t.” Most women probably wouldn’t mind Ellen doing what she did, but some would. No one should assume things like this.

Rarebear's avatar

@janbb Franken is what I meant, obviously. My fingers typed something else.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve always thought intent really mattered when it came to apologies.

If you run my dog over when it’s playing in the street, an apology is welcome, and enough. If you shoot my dog because you got tired of it barking, you don’t get to say you’re sorry.

The dog is dead in both, but only one showed malice. The intent was to cause harm.

If you intended to sexually assault someone, and knew it would hurt them, then you deserve whatever you get. Burn in whatever uncomfortable place you end up.

But if you hurt someone unintentionally, even if you were stupid, I feel like an apology carries some weight. Actions are better, but showing understanding and apologizing can mitigate some of the harm on both sides, and so they have some weight.

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy The problem with sexual assault is sometimes the assaulter is convinced the person whom they assaulted was happy to comply. I generally agree that intent matters, but with sex I’d say it’s complicated.

funkdaddy's avatar

@JLeslie – I agree with you. Every case will be complicated. Details matter, so without discussing a particular scenario, I think we’re looking for “rules of thumb” here. It’s a broad question and I just intended mine to be a broad answer. It won’t always fit and we’re in uncomfortable territory.

There are cases where malice can be excused and ignorance cannot, but intent would be the closest thing to a “rule of thumb” that I’ve found to help me decide.

rojo's avatar

I do not know if it mitigates the guilt but from listening and reading what has happened and what is alleged to have happened it seems to me that there is a male/female disconnect between what is sexual abuse or harassment. It just seems that what one person thinks of as harassment, another does not consider such. I am not saying that I am taking sides here, nor am I passing judgement on any particular action, I am just saying that many times we seem to be on different pages.
If I did something and thought nothing of it and found out later that it seriously hurt the other person I would be mortified and genuinely sorry for what I did. But what is worse, that I did it or that I did or for not realizing that it transgressed the line for appropriate behavior? I don’t know. I don’t want to hurt someone and am truly sorry if I did but why did I not think it inappropriate at the time? Again, I don’t know.

rojo's avatar

Not justifying Frankens actions but what I would like to point out (and it is not mentioned in the various new reports) is that the woman was wearing a flak jacket at the time he made is stupid gesture for the camera.
Again, I am not saying what he did was in any way justifiable but I have to ask, can you consider it groping if you cannot feel anything because of the Kevlar vest that covers you?
I do, however, see how it could be humiliating to be the butt of such juvenile humor, particularly when you only find out by viewing a disc of photos of the trip after it has occurred.

rojo's avatar

And, I have to agree with @janbb to compare the stupidity of Frankin with the sleaze factor of Moore is comparing apples to oranges.

Frankin: “Hey, I fucked up and I am sorry for doing so”,

Moore: “They (all of them) are lying sacks of shit”.

No comparison.

Inspired_2write's avatar

An apology is just the beginning of acknowledging a wrong committed or alleged.
Admitting to something that was done or might had been done is a way to open a field for mature handling of a sensitive issue and to bring the people together to discuss it further and come to an agreement as to how best to handle this now.

rojo's avatar

@filmfann Yeah, well, you were too wordy

Darth_Algar's avatar


Allegedly. In a rehearsal for a skit she consented to. Anyway…here’s why I find her story unconvincing – I watched her press conference. At almost no point did she make any kind of eye contact with the audience or camera. Nearly the entire time she ether looked off to the side or had her eyes closed. To me it smacked of the body language of someone who’s lying. Also her tone of voice sounded rather like someone reading lines from a script rather than giving a sincere recollection.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

This is solely based upon my experience. There was a time when sexual harassment was more common than it is today. I would like to think that awareness of it has changed, and that punishment is more likely to come to how the court case plays out.

Does an admission soften the guilt? Perhaps it depends upon the case.

flutherother's avatar

An admission of guilt is the least they can do. While it may not mitigate any guilt I think it helps lessen the hurt felt by the victims. In Franken’s case I don’t personally feel he ought to resign but in the current climate he may have no option.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Several female former Franken staffers and co-workers (from both his comedy career and his political career) have now come out and accused Al Franken of being respectful.

marinelife's avatar

For me, it depends on the seriousness of the offense. In the case of Al Franken, both parties agree on the facts of what happened and the woman has accepted his apology. He came across to me as very sincere and remorseful, and if she is OK with it, I am.

In the case of Roy Moore, the allegations are much more serious: underage girls, attempted rape, rape, and repeatedly trolling the mall for teenagers seems much worse. No apology could ever cover it.

Same with Harvey Weinstein and some of the other Hollywood directors.

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