Now more than ever, women are choosing to speak out against men in high positions of power, especially in the entertainment industry. They are coming forward with tales of sexual harassment, assault, and even abuse, kept quiet until recently due to fear for their careers or retaliation. Recently, eight more brave women came forward with allegations against television host Charlie Rose, who hosts The Charlie Rose Show on CBS.
At the time, the women were all either employees of the show or were looking to gain employment there. They ranged in age from 21 to 37, with the accusations ranging in time from the 1990s to as recently as six years ago. When interviewed, three of the women agreed to speak on the record, while the other five preferred to stay anonymous in order to protect themselves.
In the interviews, many of the women described Rose’s inappropriate sexual advances, which included inappropriate touches in the groin, breast, or stomach, lewd phone calls, and exposing himself on more than one occasion. “It has taken 10 years and a fierce moment of cultural reckoning for me to understand these moments for what they were,” says Reah Bravo, who was an intern and associate producer on the show. “He was a sexual predator, and I was his victim.”
Seeking help from higher powers turned out to not be an option, either. Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, who’d been one of Rose’s assistants in the early 2000s, had been subjected to multiple instances of indecent exposure on Rose’s part. She reported the incidents to Rose’s executive producer, Yvette Vega, and got no reassuring response in return. At most, her responses were vague and even mildly conciliatory.
“She just made me feel like I was being a dramatic little girl,” Godfrey-Ryan says. “I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times. She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.'” Godfrey-Ryan eventually stopped reporting the harassment, and when she confided in a mutual friend about the incidents with Rose, he ended up firing her.
What is terrifying about these accusations is how deeply the women are being hurt. One of the women who’d been interviewed anonymously speaks about her encounter with Rose, where she was almost assaulted. “By the time he touched me the first time, he was already very angry,” she says.
“I was scared, and I was also kind of frozen. I really, honestly, I’ve tried so hard, especially recently, since I’ve been thinking about this, to try to remember what happened between sitting by the pool and being in his bed. I have no recollection of how we went from here to there. I do remember I was crying the entire time.”
Since the accusations were published by The Washington Post, CBS has suspended distribution of The Charlie Rose Show and suspended Rose himself. Because the women had been working for Rose himself and not for CBS, no human resources system had been in place, nor had the network received complaints of sexual harassment.
Both Rose and Vega have come forward with apologies, however. “I should have stood up for them,” says Vega. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”
“In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,” begins Rose’s statement. “Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues. It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior.”
Even after his apology, Rose is finally being punished for his actions. He is one man in a long list of celebrities accused of sexual misconduct. Every time a woman speaks up against their harasser, the truth comes out and we can begin to heal as a society.
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