In legal documents filed this week in the child sexual abuse case against the aging rocker, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler claimed that his life is of “significant public interest.” As such, he says, he was protected under the First Amendment to “out” a survivor of sexual abuse against her will, make millions of dollars publishing her story, and continue to revictimize her.
Tyler also filed an affidavit claiming that it was “not his intention to hurt” the victim by telling her story of rape and abuse.
Think his argument is unique? Think again. Tyler and his lawyers are leveraging a despicable trend of “victim-blaming” to escape the consequences of abusing children and young teens. By bullying, blaming, and silencing victims in public and the media, perpetrators, their defenders, and their lawyers have been attacking innocent victims for decades.
Here are some recent hair-raising examples.
1. Quentin Tarantino Defends Convicted Rapist Roman Polanski
In a 2017 interview, director Quentin Tarantino defended disgraced director Roman Polanski, saying that drugging and raping a 10-year-old girl was not “rape,” because there was no violence involved.
“He didn’t rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape. That’s not quite the same thing… He had sex with a minor, all right. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violence, throwing them down.”
The truth? According to the then-13-year-old survivor, Polanski gave her Champagne and pills and locked her in a room with him. Then, despite her protests and begging him to stop throughout the assault, Polanski forced oral, and vaginal sex, and then acts of sodomy.
At least five additional women have come forward to accuse Polanski, the youngest of which was 10 years old at the time of the assault.
2. Bill Cosby Countersues Seven Women Who Accused Him of Rape
By 2017, former “America’s Dad” Bill Cosby had been accused of rape and sexual assault by dozens of women in police reports, lawsuits, and public statements. Cosby filed countersuits against seven of his accusers, calling the women and their claims “morally repugnant” and “motivated by money.”
To date, at least 60 women have come forward to accuse Cosby of rape.
3. Texas Catholic Priest and Diocesan Official States Parents are Responsible When Their Children are Sexually Abused.
In 1998, Texas Catholic priest Rudolph Kos was convicted on three counts of sexual assault against children and sentenced to life in prison. In August of that year, a Dallas jury found the diocese grossly negligent in preventing the abuse of 11 children, including one who committed suicide.
In response to the verdict, Monsignor Robert Rehkemper, who was the Vicar General of the Dallas Catholic Diocese during most of Kos’ tenure, said publicly that parents should share a huge part of the blame for the abuse.
4. Priest Who Counseled Offenders Claims that Victims “Seduce” Predators
In 2012, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a prominent Catholic spiritual leader and a counselor for sexually abusive priests, told a Catholic-owned publication that survivors, especially teenage boys, are often the instigator of the abuse and “seduce” predators.
“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him,” Father Groeschel, now 79, said in the interview. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”
Groeschel went on to say that he did not think that priests with a single accuser should be punished.
5. Infamous Doctor Who Sexually Assaulted Hundreds of Gymnasts Blames Survivors – Stating “He’s the Victim.”
In recorded interviews with Michigan State police, former MSU, and US Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar claimed that he was just as much of a victim of his crimes as the hundreds of women he sexually assaulted.
In a video published by the HuffPost, in a 2014 interview, Nassar claims the acts of sexual abuse he is committing are “standard medical procedures” and “the victims are confused.” Nassar also reasons that he has been accused of inappropriate contact with former minor gymnasts because the individuals that accuse him of abuse were abused in the past.
Two years later, Nassar justified his abusive practices again. Claiming that he gets aroused during treatment of minor female gymnasts because, “when you’re a guy, sometimes you get an erection.” During this interview, Nassar claimed he feels like a victim and is being “blindsided for trying to help someone.”
For a victim of abuse, specifically a minor, to share their truths about what they endured should not be taken lightly. We can confirm that the willpower it takes for a victim to come forward, to share their truth and their story, requires a magnitude of courage that we may never be able to comprehend. For a survivor to be blamed for exposing their perpetrator is cowardice, and a last-ditch defensive effort by a perpetrator and their legal team to attempt to silence the survivor. We, and the survivors we represent, will not stand for it.