It’s a video that didn’t play well with many victims of sexual harassment, let alone lawyers and others who saw the FoxNews Hannity interview with sexual harassment attorney Mercedes Colwin take issue with some who complaint about such matters.
To give this some context, Colwin is the New York office managing partner of Gordon & Rees, as well as being a Fox News legal analyst, with her firm focusing on litigation work including her work defending corporate executives and others from claims of sexual misconduct, as per her website bio –
Gordon & Rees is one of the largest law firms in the US by headcount with 667 lawyers over multiple offices.
Advertisers have been ditching Hannity over his coverage and defence of allegations of sexual impropiety in respect of the Roy Moore allegations.
The Hannity interview with Colwin proceeded thus –
Hannity: Do people do it for money? Do they do it for political reasons? Is that more common than people think?
Colwin: Oh definitely.
Hannity: They will lie to make money?
Colwin: Undoubtedly. I mean, there are individuals who will come forward with these outrageous allegations, and they fall…
Hannity: And that hurts women who are victims.
Colwin: Yes. I used to work in sex crimes in the DA’s office. It was very pitiful to see that. Because some jurors don’t believe it because they have, in their own lives, there are people who have made these accusations for money. You see this time and time and time again. And sexual harassment, that term is coined everywhere, frankly, the laws are very clear about what it takes to have some sort of violation of the law. You have to have some sort of damage. And these individuals, a lot of these women, it’s all about money, and they bank on the fact that these corporations have the reputation that they want to save.
Hannity: And the hard—this is where you thread the needle, because there are women who are victims of predators.
Colwin: Yes, there are. There are. But very few and far between.
A Slate article by Jordan Weissmann castigated Colwin for her victim-blaming, saying it was not a first for Colwin.
This is not the first time Colwin has voiced skepticism about sexual harassment claims outside of her client work. When former Fox & Friendshost Gretchen Carlson filed the lawsuit that eventually brought down Roger Ailes, Colwin told the Hollywood Reporter that she was “furious,” and that, “By her demeanor and the way she comported herself, you would never ever conceive that [Carlson] had these allegations and would bring them to light, ever.”
AbovetheLaw carried a reation to the Weissmann piece, with Colwin saying –
Colwin’s full response to Weissmann is below:
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify certain of my remarks from the November 9 broadcast of the Sean Hannity Show. First and foremost, I am profoundly sympathetic of anyone who has been the victim of sexual harassment and believe they deserve full and complete protection under the law. As one who has personally experienced such treatment and also had a deceased sister who was a victim of domestic violence, it is entirely apparent to me that sexual predators do indeed exist in our society who deserve to be called out, civilly pursued and criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
On the other hand, my comments made during the broadcast were intended to address a different set of circumstances which I have observed both as an administrative law judge and an attorney over a number of decades—namely that in some cases, incidents of alleged sexual harassment can be misrepresented or even fabricated as a means of leveraging an advantage in court or otherwise. And given the incredibly serious nature of such accusations, it is important to bear in mind that the accused also have rights and are deserving of the presumption of innocence embedded in our legal system.
In any event, I did not in any way mean to trivialize or minimize the impact of sexual harassment on any victims of such practices or to condone such behaviors in any setting, whether business or personal.
Meanwhile, it gives Fox News and Hannity someone else to concern themselves on the whole sexual predator front. Nothing new to them.
Michelle Frey is a freelance legal writer and researcher.