The release of Mario Patali underscores the dangers of the #MeToo lawsuit

Boston (AB) – Bill Cosby has been released from prison It turned out that he attacked a woman by giving her drugs. Quarterback Teshan Watson signed a record $ 230 million dealDespite an investigation into allegations of assaulting 22 women. Famous chef Mario Patali was released on the second day of this week Trial of his sexual assault case in Boston.

Nearly five years into the #MeToo era, former lawyers, legal experts and victims’ lawyers have proven that prosecuting sexual abuse cases is no easier than it was before the fiery storm of allegations against powerful, untouchable human beings.

Emily Martin, vice president of the National Center for Women’s Law in Washington, D.C., says cases like Badali’s, if nothing else, reinforce how the criminal justice system is a “very imperfect tool” to address the needs of survivors. Team.

“Failing to get a criminal conviction does not mean that the abuse did not happen or that it is not right,” he said. “Sexual abuse can be very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, especially given the gender positions that make many people particularly distrustful when women share experiences of sexual violence.”

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbam, who assisted Patali in the case, declined to comment specifically on the case Wednesday, but said the sexual assault cases are too challenging to prosecute.

“Survivors of sexual violence are still less trusted than victims of any kind of crime,” he said. “This is a concept we have always fought for. Part of it is public attitudes, part of it is the personal nature of crime in most cases.

Accusing a person of wealth or status increases the challenge because of the increased public attention and increased study of the alleged motives of the victim, Polumbam said.

“We will not be afraid to bring difficult cases if they are supported by evidence,” he added. “And we hope that the survivors will not be prevented from coming forward.”

Patali’s case also reinforces how important a defendant’s credibility is in a misconduct case, says Larry Levanson, a former federal attorney in California, who has little additional evidence or witnesses to support the allegations. Los Angeles.

Patali, 61, a former member of the Food Network, was charged in 2017 with aggressively kissing a woman while taking a selfie at a bar and stumbling. Boston lawyers have largely relied on photos taken at the bar that night and the testimony of the now 32-year-old witness. An old software company employee accused him of misconduct.

But Badali’s lawyers have demanded $ 50,000 in damages for the pending civil case against him, and he recently admitted that he tried to get out of jury duty in another criminal case. In a separate case, forged lease documents to get out of paying a $ 200 gym fee.

“These cases will never be easy,” Levenson said. “But even in the #MeToo era, you need reliable victims.”

Levenson hopes the Patali verdict will serve as a warning to survivors of the abuse.

“There are definitely more temptations to go in these cases, and in doing so, you are undermining the credibility of your own case,” Levenson said. “The very nature of its full popularity leads victims to do things like come forward to sell their story, make demands for money or somehow provoke what happened.”

But Stewart Ryan, a former assistant county attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who helped prosecute Cosby, argued that a person seeking damages in a civil case who escaped sexual abuse should not be treated differently than a victim who was hit by a drunk driver. They face criminal charges.

He stressed that the rate of false reports of sexual harassment was “minute” and that “with the highest percentage of survivors ever” they would never report an assault.

“One reason is that, unfortunately, the tactics used here call into question the survivor’s motives with questions that are completely unrelated to whether or not sexual violence actually took place,” Ryan said of the Patali defense strategy.

Patali’s release is on par with another high-profile #MeToo lawsuit in Massachusetts, which was broken up over issues involving the accused.

In 2019, actor Kevin Spacey was forced by prosecutors to refuse to testify against his teen accused of indecent assault and battery charges. Caught by the “House of Cards” star while working as a bus driver at Nandaket Bar.

Meanwhile, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. is preparing to avoid imprisonment After pleading guilty last month to forcibly kissing a worker at a New York City nightclub in 2018.

Humiliated Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sentenced to life imprisonment #MeToo in 2020 His appeal is likely to be in doubt as the New York court is expected to rule soon.

Dallas-based lawyer Michelle Simpson Dugel, who represented gymnasts abused by former U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser and other victims, said: “Sometimes people think Weinstein is on trial and we’re at a different time.

“People are definitely more aware and survivors are more supportive,” he said. “But by no means do we see the extent of accountability, especially for the super-rich, the powerful and the common people.”


Associated Press reporters Mary Clare Dale in Philadelphia, Michael Zizek in New York and Alana Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to the story.


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