She Said - He Said<br/>Who to Believe?

She Said - He Said
Who to Believe?

© David Burton 2018

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

     All too frequently here in the United States, we are inundated with instant news bites about accusations, innuendos and gossip concerning some well-known individual. Almost immediately there is a rush to judge the individual in question well before all the facts are known. Innocent until proven guilty has seemingly lost its significance in modern day America.

     For example, “Shares of Wynn Resorts plunged more than 10% . . . after a Wall Street Journal story detailing numerous allegations against founder and CEO Steve Wynn.
     “Wynn denied the charges in the Journal story.” (Ref. 1)

     So, unsubstantiated allegations were made and immediately there was a rush by the investment community to judge Wynn guilty of the charges and to instantaneously punish Wynn and the company he founded and led.

     " ‘The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,’ he said in a statement that the company sent to CNN. ‘We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.’
      - - -
     “According to the Journal's story, the broad terms of the incident and payment were referenced in a heavily redacted lawsuit that was filed by Wynn's ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, in 2012. She is seeking to lift restrictions on her sale of Wynn Resorts (WYNN) shares. According to the paper, a Wynn corporate attorney said in a court hearing that there were ‘allegations of assault.’ But the paper said details of the incident with the manicurist and the amount of the settlement had not previously been reported.
     “The company said . . . it has a hotline any employee can use anonymously to make a complaint about sexual harassment or misconduct. ‘Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn,’ said the statement.
     “Wynn Resorts alleges that the Journal story is a result of an effort by Elaine Wynn to ‘tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him.’ Steve Wynn echoed that claim in the statement he provided to CNN.
      - - -
     “Wynn . . . is the first CEO and founder of a major publicly-traded company to face such charges, although a growing number of men in business have been accused of sexual misconduct in the last year.” (Ref. 1)

     According to court documents, Wynn also paid a 2006 settlement to a second woman who accused him of sexual misconduct. This “report of a second settlement came from his own attorneys, who maintain that Wynn went to the FBI to accuse the second woman of trying to extort him by threatening to go public with details of the 2006 settlement.
     “The {earlier} Wall Street Journal report . . . said that {the} former manicurist at a Wynn property in Las Vegas received a $7.5 million settlement from Wynn.
      - - -
     “After the allegations became public, Wynn — who retains a 12 percent stake in Wynn Resorts — resigned as CEO, and stepped down from his post as finance chair of the Republican National Committee . . .” (Ref. 2)

     Following the reports of sexual misconduct, The Massachusetts Attorney General questioned whether the company should be allowed to keep its gaming license for a casino in greater Boston - scheduled to open in the summer of 2019 - and joined the Governor of Massachusetts in calling for the removal of Wynn’s name from the casino project.

     Subsequently, Wynn resigned “as chairman and chief executive of his company, Wynn Resorts, in response to {the} sexual misconduct allegations . . .
     “In a statement, Mr. Wynn said he was stepping down because ‘an avalanche of negative publicity’ had created an environment ‘in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts.’
      - - -
     “{Also}, . . . Mr. Wynn, a major Republican donor, stepped down as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. A few days later, the University of Pennsylvania revoked his honorary degree and removed his name from a campus plaza and scholarship. And the Massachusetts Gaming Commission promised an investigation, as Wynn Resorts is building a multibillion-dollar casino outside Boston.
      - - -
     “Mr. Wynn is the latest in a growing series of prominent men, from actors to politicians to journalists, who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault since The New York Times published an exposé on the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in October. Many have resigned or been fired as a result.” (Ref. 3)

     I can tell you from personal experience that agreeing to a legal settlement in no way implies an admission of guilt. Several years back when I was still working, my company was sued by a former consultant. My company settled the suit by agreeing to pay the former consultant around $20,000.

     Here are the facts relevant to that particular settlement. The individual contacted me concerning an announcement from the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) that they were seeking companies to develop systems for the military that could detect and locate small arms fire. The individual claimed to be an expert in acoustics. He was aware that my company was heavily involved in optical detection techniques, particularly the optical detection and location of gun flashes. He suggested that we develop an integrated acoustical-optical system to detect and locate small arms weapon fire by means of optical detection of the gun flash and the acoustical detection of the sound of the gunfire.

     I checked with my boss and we agreed to submit a proposal to DARPA, with the individual listed as a consultant. The proposal included a resume of the individual which listed his experience and his multiple past accomplishments in the field of acoustics.

     As a result of the proposal, we won a DARPA contract and began work on an integrated acoustic-optical gunfire detection and location system. When we completed the first phase of the project and were ready to proceed with the second phase, we were informed by our DARPA contract monitor that he was unhappy with the acoustics portion of our work and that other acoustic specialists and companies were much more advanced and doing considerably better work than our consultant. As a result, I and my company decided to terminate our relations with the individual and, after doing research to locate a qualified acoustics organization, we found a company respected for its work in acoustics. We notified the individual that we would no longer require his consulting services and hired the other company to perform the acoustics portion of the work on our DARPA contract.

     The improvement in our acoustics work was immediately obvious – in terms of technical performance and more advanced technology.

     A few years later, my company was notified that the individual was suing my company for unfairly terminating him on the gunfire detection and location contract. My company’s lawyers arranged to have the individual deposed at their offices in Boston. I sat through two deposition sessions. Under questioning from the company lawyers, it turned out that nearly all of the individual’s claims of accomplishments and expertise in the field of acoustics hade been false or misleading. Also, a patent which he had obtained as a result of his work on our DARPA contract was demonstrably invalid. It was clear to me that the individual’s suit against my company would never hold up in court. To my utter surprise, I was shortly notified that the company was settling the suit out of court and paying the individual $20,000. I complained about the lawyers’ decision and was told that the company had already incurred legal expenses of $200,000 and would have to spend another $200,000 to defend the case in court. It was far cheaper for the company to give the individual $20,000 than to go ahead and expose that individual as a fraud and a charlatan.

     As a side note to all of this, several years after I had retired I was called by the federal government to be deposed in a suit brought by the same individual against the government for cheating him out profits from his supposedly valuable patent – the one that I was certain was totally invalid. I presented the facts as I recalled them and have not heard anything further about the case.

     These days, it’s all too common for unfounded law suits to be filed with the hope that the party being sued will find it cheaper to pay off the accuser than to incur the costs of defending one’s self in court. In some of these cases, unscrupulous parties troll for unused patents with which to bring suit – in some cases, even putting companies out of business that can’t afford the costs of defending themselves.

     In another ongoing case of a rush to judgement, “Porn star Stormy Daniels — who says she had a one-night stand with President Trump — claimed in {a} ‘60 Minutes’ interview she felt threatened after she was told ‘they can make your life hell’ and ‘leave Trump alone. Forget about the story.’
      - - -
     “In 2011, Daniels said, after she agreed to tell the story to In Touch magazine for $15,000, she was approached in a Las Vegas parking lot while she was with her infant daughter.
     “ ‘A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.’
     Daniels . . . told {an} interviewer {that} she met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006 when Trump was the host of ‘The Apprentice.’
      - - -
     “She said the two had consensual sex the night she met him — the one and only time they slept together — and that she signed a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement by Trump’s attorney a week and half before the 2016 election.
      - - -
     “Daniels said her only motivation for going public is because she is telling the truth and must defend herself. {Oh, and by the way, I have a Brooklyn Bridge that I’d like to sell You.}
     “{Imagine,} ‘People are just saying whatever they wanted to say about me. I was perfectly fine saying nothing at all, but I’m not OK with being made out to be a liar, or people thinking that I did this for money and people are like, ‘Oh, you’re an opportunist. You’re taking advantage of this.’ Yes, I’m getting more job offers now, but tell me one person who would turn down a job offer making more money than they’ve been making, doing the same thing that they’ve always done.’ {Which is what? Sleeping with an important personality, getting paid to keep quiet about it and then going public with the story when that figure gains national prominence, in order to gain more publicity and make bundles of more money?}” (Ref. 4)

     If Daniels did sign a legally binding non-disclosure agreement and is now going public, isn’t she violating that agreement and isn’t she subject to civil or criminal penalties for violating that agreement? Let’s face it, $130,000 several years back, is nothing compared to the millions Daniels can now rake in for gossiping about her supposed sexual escapade with a now current president!

     Donald Trump is by no means the first American president to have reportedly have had sexual liaisons with women other than their wives before and during their presidencies. Previously, most of these affairs had little publicity – unlike today, when yellow journalism and public voyeurism are rampant.

     “The attention now being showered upon erstwhile porn star Stormy Daniels and other previously unknown women who claim to have been intimate with Donald Trump before he became president is nothing more than political debauchery, totally shameless in its ideological duplicity.
     “This is not to mitigate or pooh-pooh the gravity of Trump’s alleged behavior, but, if those allegations are true, exactly what damage would result to the rest of us, other than disappointing those who’d like to believe our leaders are cut from a different cloth?
     “That’s a nice notion, but, truth be told, it would be easier to prove cows jump over the moon than to assert our office-holders are paragons of virtue.
     “When some flagrantly disappoint us, if our rage falls along party lines it’s as phony as a three-dollar bill because decency and morality do not have party affiliations.
     “That means anyone now hungering to embarrass Trump who didn’t also express contempt over Bill Clinton’s lechery can be dismissed as a fraud.
     “Hanky-panky is nothing new. Before they became presidents Dwight Eisenhower had a flirtation with a military chauffeur . . . and FDR had a dalliance with a secretary . . . Both are now regarded as giants in American history.
     “Temptations such as these go back to Biblical times, when David had his fling with Bathsheba.
      - - -
     “Hungering for that moment in the limelight now being offered by exploitative media ever anxious to denigrate Trump, his accusers simply do not realize how they are being used.
     “Kiss and tell? There’s nothing laudable about that, especially if it means breaking an agreement to keep the affair private.
     “Forget what they say about Trump; what does that say about them?
     “Deluded into believing they’re important people with important things to say, their only fleeting claim to fame is having once hooked up salaciously with someone who actually did amount to something.” (Ref. 5)

     “The legal battle {of Stormy Daniels}, and that of former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (seeking an exit from her agreement with the publisher of the National Enquirer giving it exclusive rights to her story of a Trump affair), doesn’t seem complicated. You don’t get to sign such an agreement and then turn around and get out of it when it no longer suits you.
     “Of course, the effort to buy their stories in the first place speaks volumes. . .
     “Even if Trump’s side wins the legal battles, Daniels and McDougal have, in effect, found ways around their agreements by making such a stink about them. The point of an NDA is supposed to be that no one knows about the NDA. . .
     “Trump’s best strategy in all of this would be one easy sentence: ‘I’ve done things I’m not proud of.’ {on the other hand, Maybe Trump was proud of the thing he’s accused of.}
     “It would have the advantage of being true, of acknowledging what everyone knows and of not delving into the details of any particular allegation while allowing everyone around him to revert back to this statement whenever Daniels or another woman comes up.
     “Standing in the way of such a simple expedient is Trump’s M.O. of never giving an inch in favor of no-holds-barred legal combat (Daniels will owe $20 million in damages!), perhaps the worry that any show of weakness will encourage other women to come forward . . .” (Ref. 6)

     These days, we endure “trials by tabloids” or “trials by media”, when media outlets create a widespread perception of an individual’s guilt or innocence through the release of prejudicial and often unsubstantiated material. The sensationalism that frequents today’s media severely undermines the accused’s ability to defend his- herself. All too often, people decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused long before the actual facts are come to light.

     When all is said and done concerning the blizzard of charges of sexual impropriety brought against a number of individuals of national and public notoriety, the indisputable fact remains that, by implication, the media and the American public have, to a large extent, rushed to judge the accused as guilty. Maybe they are. But, in some cases, of what? – of having consensual sex? The American judicial system is based on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. Such is unfortunately not so in the court of public opinion. Journalistic sensationalism contributes to this rush to judge those accused of being guilty without all the facts being known. In some cases, it’s because “that’s where the money is” that charges are brought and nondisclosure agreements are ignored. If charges are brought against individuals, the public could do a great service by postponing judgement until all the facts become known. A ”holier than thou” attitude does no good. When and if the real facts become known and if a trial or hearing is warranted, then let the judges, jurist or commission make the final judgement of guilt or innocence and the nature of the punishment warranted, if any. The recent conviction of Bill Cosby is an example of such a successful procedure. Lynch mob justice, even in the court of public opinion, does not belong in America.


  1. Steve Wynn accused of sexual misconduct in WSJ, resort shares plunge, Chris Isidore, CNN Money,
    26 January 2018.
  2. Wynn camp: 2nd payoff settlement, Bruce Castleberry, Boston Herald, Page 16, 20 March 2018.
  3. Steve Wynn Resigns From Company Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Maggie Astor and Julie Creswell,
    The New York Times, 6 February 2018.
  4. Porn star to CBS: I was told 'they can make your life hell', Antonio Planas, Boston Herald, Pages 4-5,
    26 March 2018.
  5. Trump not first, nor last, politician to weather this type of Stormy situation, Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald,
    Page 5, 26 March 2018.
  6. Daniels publicity causes quite a storm, Rich Lowry, Boston Herald, Page 11, 24 March 2018.


  3 May 2018 {Article 323; Whatever_61}    
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