Last week, quite a few turkeys got carved up ahead of Thanksgiving.
As we all trekked to wherever we had to in order to pretend to enjoy spending time with our various assortment of raggedy uncles, news dropped approximately every 17.8 seconds of a prominent Black male being sued based on sexual assault allegations.
Cuba Gooding Jr. was named in two suits by two women, one of whom is seeking damages from a highly publicized 2018 incident over which Gooding pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in October 2022, avoiding jail time.
Jamie Foxx, fresh off his sympathy tour following a mysterious illness that kept him away from the public for months, was hit with a suit over a 2015 sexual assault at a New York restaurant. On Nov. 23, his representatives said that it never happened, and that the same person filed a similar suit in 2020 that was dismissed immediately.
Perhaps the wildest suit of last week was that against New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who’s totally earning the confidence of his constituents by balancing a case involving a 1993 sexual assault allegation along with a federal investigation into campaign fundraising corruption.
Diddy, whose Nov. 16 lawsuit filed by ex-girlfriend Cassie kicked the Revenge Tour in motion (along with a much lower-profile assault suit against Antonio “L.A.” Reid a week earlier), caught two more suits: one involving an alleged drugging and assault of a 19-year-old in 1991, and the other from the same year involving former Guy singer (and apparent all-around R. Kelly predecessor) Aaron Hall.
Naysayers have a lot to naysay about the glut of suits. I have a lot to say to the naysayers. Pull up a chair.
It was no coincidence. The Adult Survivors Act, signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2022, provided a one-year “lookback window” that allowed people to file civil lawsuits for alleged sex crimes that occurred before the 20-year statute of limitations.
The pre-Thanksgiving run of suits came in just under the act’s expiration on Friday. There’s nothing quick about the process of securing lawyers and filing lawsuit, so no surprise that a lot of them were filed under the gun.
If you took a few seconds away from bitching in the comments section to think, it wouldn’t take long to glean that there are manifold reasons women don’t quickly come forward after being assaulted.
First, there’s fear of retribution: a woman claiming assault at the hands of Puff Daddy at the height of his powers in the late 90s—before social media, back when the world cared even less about sexual assault survivors than it does now—would’ve been chewed up and spit out. “She was clearly in his room for one thing,” the naysayers would’ve claimed as they queued “Hypnotize” back up on the CD changer.
Also, #MeToo taught us that there’s encouragement in seeing other women come forward. It took a well-timed Hannibal Burress joke for a flood of Bill Cosby accusers to step forward with accusations they sat on for half a century. These are grandmothers who would’ve likely died with their trauma had that brush fire not been set off.
It doesn’t behoove women on Al Gore’s vitriol-charged internet to come forward publicly (you can’t hide your name on a lawsuit) when social media and comments sections allow any idiot with a fake name and blank avatar to type whatever vile shit they please. Strength in numbers is basic human psychology at work—we see what happens when women are left flapping in the wind all alone.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Axl Rose, frontman of Guns N’ Roses—one of the most popular rock bands of the late 20th century—is being sued over an alleged 1989 violent sexual assault.
Still, that’s the wrong question to ask…and a terrible one at that.
“But, but…what about all the white abusers? Why aren’t they getting in trouble?” wonder folks who apparently don’t realize that Kevin Spacey can’t even set his pinky toe on a Hollywood production lot and that Harvey Weinstein will most likely die in prison.
There are so many other ways to protect Black men that don’t involve throwing on a cape for those who have done heinous things, and often at the expense of Black women. Certainly, the Venn diagram of the dust bowl faithful who believe these lawsuits are engineered to simply “tear successful Black men down” and those who believe that R. Kelly got a bad rap because he’s Black overlap neatly.
Ah, my favorite: the suggestion that women are exaggerating or fabricating stories out of thin air and throwing a lawsuit behind it so they can get paid.
Understand that these are actual lawsuits that must endure the scrutiny of the legal system. If a woman was sitting at home watching reruns of “What’s Happening Now!!” on the same night she claimed she was attacked by a rich celebrity, that’ll likely come to light before the case ever makes it to trial—and she’ll pay dearly.
Each of the men listed above has denied their allegations. But even if they’re lying and willing to roll the dice in open court, none of them are cutting checks over make-believe. We all know why Diddy settled with Cassie in less time than it takes to smoke a pork shoulder.
Could it be that the two lawsuits against Diddy were motivated by the fact that he (presumably) broke an absurd chunk off for Cassie? Sure, but to assume that they’re meritless for that reason is diminishing and dangerous—it perpetuates the “what if she’s lying?” issue that survivors have had to endure since time immemorial.
And really…why is a victim chasing a bag a bad thing? It’s a civil lawsuit—that’s quite literally the point. These are men who may have gotten away with behavior that should’ve had them imprisoned while their victims endured emotional (and sometimes physical) scarring, years of therapy and diminished trust in men that damages future relationships.
In Cassie’s case, if a vengeful Diddy hindered her music career, we’re talking about incalculable financial loss. Why shouldn’t his punishment be remunerative considering he’s been knocking on a $1 billion net worth for some time?
Indeed, people lie daily and for many reasons, regardless of what’s between their legs. However, I generally default to the belief that men who don’t treat women as unwilling sexual objects don’t have to sweat with fear that their transgressions will catch up with them.
If any of these women are completely making things up, trust and believe that we’ll find out. But I’m not pushing any of my chips on that bet.