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Citizen Cain and Penn State cases cast spotlight on serial sexual harassment

With more victims claiming serious sexual harassment at the hands of Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, an avalanche of moral disgust has engulfed the nation. In a new CBS News Poll released today, 11-11-11, 30 percent of likely voters say the charges make them less likely to back him, and that rises to 38 percent among women. Cain has lost support among women since last month – from 28 percent in October to 15 percent now. He has lost ground with conservatives and Tea Party supporters as well.

Fed by the flames of explicit media accounts detailing the heinous sexual crimes committed against children by former Penn State assistant football Coach Jerry Sandusky, a stunned nation finds itself crying out in moral outrage.

Indeed, as these salacious scandals have exploded across the country’s airwaves, an unconscionable case of shock and awe has descended across the country.

Americans are now searching for answers: How could those in positions of influence get away with committing such horrific deeds time-after-time, year-after-year. Just as troubling is the question of people in powerful positions covering up such atrocious behavior for so long.

As more facts in these cases are released, one thing is apparent: Sexual misconduct on all levels is increasing in workplaces throughout America.

“Sexual harassment has been on the public radar for more than 20 years and we regularly receive phone calls and email inquiries regarding inappropriate or offensive sexual conduct on a weekly basis,” says attorney Andrew M. Dansicker. With an office in Hunt Valley (www.dansickerlaw.com) Dansicker focuses on sexual harassment cases and is associated with Ingerman & Horwitz LLP, (www.ihlaw.com) a distinguished downtown Baltimore-based law firm.

“Unfortunately, sexual harassment is an entrenched part of today’s employment landscape, particularly in male-dominated workplaces where there is substantial ‘down’ time, such as athletic facilities, automobile dealerships, warehouses, construction sites, furniture stores and similar business establishments,” says Dansicker.

Dennis Koulatsos, general manager and co-owner of Koons Ford of Baltimore says: “I don’t know about other dealerships, but having ‘down’ time just isn’t an issue at our store. Our employees are always engaged with our customers, in both sales and service. We pride ourselves at providing a safe and enriching environment for all customers and employees. With the popularity of Ford’s models right now, our showroom is always full of people.” Koulatsos’ dealership is part of the regional Jim Koons Automotive Group that was voted “Best Place to Work” in 2009, 2010 and 2011 by the Washington Business Journal.

Some critics note that if sexual misconduct is so widespread, why is it that more victims are not coming forward.

“I think people are scared that they won’t be able to prove that inappropriate things have happened to them,” Dansicker says. “Often, no one else is around when sexual misconduct occurs, so it becomes a ‘he said-she said’ situation: one person’s word against another’s. Another major reason why more people do not come forward is this economy: they are terrified about the possibility of losing their jobs.”

So how can anyone expect to win a sexual harassment case?

“You look for a pattern,” Dansicker points out. “You ask others in that workplace if this type of thing has ever happened to them. Then you look for former employees of the company. Often victims will leave their place of employment rather than face continued unwanted sexual advances.”
An experienced sexual harassment litigator, Dansicker notes that in case after case, his investigation will ultimately reveal a pattern of serial sexual misconduct where the perpetrator has preyed on other victims. “That’s how we win our cases; it is just a matter of doing the kind of investigative work that establishes the pattern.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, and other physical or verbal conduct that is sexual in nature – when submission to, or rejection of, this conduct either explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or unreasonably interferes with an individuals’ work performance.

Dansicker cautions that if a person wishes to file a claim for sexual harassment with the EEOC, it must be done within 300 days of the alleged sexual harassment.

In both the ongoing Cain and Sandusky cases, it is alleged that serious serial sexual misconduct took place. Throughout those years, people in power could have taken steps to stop the abuse, preventing harm to even more women and children – yet they did nothing.
Perhaps that’s the greatest indictment of all: Failed leadership and abandoned moral responsibility by those in authority which leaves that sickly feeling in the pit of the nation’s collective stomach.

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