Would you ever trust a liar again once that person was exposed? I’m not referring to a white lie where someone says something that is harmless, but a lie that has consequences for another person or group of people?
I’ve been thinking about this since the Radford/Stollznow joint statement was released recently where both agreed to end the litigation that Redford brought claiming defamation. In that statement, Stollznow agreed to this terminology:
But it would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Redford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically or sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow.
Reading that statement as is, it’s clearly a retraction of charges she publically made against Radford in a blog post almost 2 years ago.
Of course, her supporters have claimed that she only signed the statement because of a) she was going through a difficult pregnancy and the stress of litigation was too much, b) the cost of the litigation was becoming untenable, or c) a combination of the first 2.
That may well be true. Most of us will never know but to me it raises a very serious question about Stollznow: Was she lying then or is she lying now?
As Stollznow is known as a prominent skeptic, would there ever be anyone that could trust what she has to say again? Would any event organizer ever invite her to speak at their event based on what may be described as aberrent behavior (again, if the retraction is valid on its face)? What about employment opportunities? Employers for the last 2 decades have been very cognizant (for the most part) about sexual harassment in the workplace. Many companies and organizations might steer wide of her because of these past allegations. Ron Lindsay, of CFI, even wrote a response piece to Scientific American about the original post that implied CFI’s complicity in her harassment by not taking steps immediately.
It really comes down to beliving the accuser before any actual evidence is presented. Of course, any complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and investigated for its veracity and if true, the harasser should be dealt with according to the severity of the incident(s) and to company policy.
What bothered me about these allegations against Radford from the beginning was that the accuser went public in an attempt to receive “justice” of some kind. Most companies frown on that because it has the effect of impugning the responsibility of the company toward their employees.
For now it looks like this drama is over and for both involved, the damage may be irreparable, moreso I believe for Stollznow.