Like so many of us, Rachel Floyd has followed the recent flurry of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood moguls and high profile politicians.
From Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey and most recently, comedian Louis C.K., the allegations and admissions have sent shock waves through the entertainment industry.
Weinstein’s accusers might have sparked others to come forward with information about their own alleged abuser.
But will it inspire Pittsburgh victims to file claims or share their stories?
“I think people in Hollywood are idolized. They’re people generally that are looked up to for better or for worse, so it could give people the guts,” said Rachel Floyd, speaking in downtown Pittsburgh Friday.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reporter Beau Berman sat down with attorney Vincent Mersich to discuss the matter. Mersich is of counsel at Stember Cohn Davidson-Welling LLC located downtown.
“There’s no doubt that it’s happening in Pittsburgh as much as it’s happening everywhere else. That issue is certainly not limited to Hollywood or the entertainment industry,” said Mersich.
The lawyer said he has handled multiple claims similar to the behavior described by the accusers in the cases making national headlines.
“We receive many reports of women experiencing harassment ranging from comments to touching to truly horrific acts of sexual assault in those environments. All of those allegations in every example you mentioned, they’re all disturbing, at the same time unfortunately is they’re not surprising,” said Mersich.
He said his practice does anticipate an uptick in phone calls from victims following the claims now in the national spotlight.
“The attention that this issue is getting recently is likely to embolden some people to come forward and to speak up. We do hope that the attention to his matter really increases people’s willingness to speak up and come forward with these allegations,” said Mersich.
Other Pittsburgh lawyers echoed the prediction that cases could increase.
“It’s showing women that it’s not just happening just to them, it’s happening to other women as well, and if other women are speaking out then they have the confidence to speak out as well,” said Danielle Parks.
Parks is an attorney at Kraemer, Manes & Associates. She works alongside attorneys Sean Ruppert and Prabhu Narahari.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls describing the kinds of harassment that’s become more popular or more noticed in the media recently. Too often employers treat this like a dispute between two people who have equal points of view and try to mediate it rather than investigating the claims as with one person as a victim and the other person as a perpetrator,” said Ruppert.
One law firm contacted by WTAE said they are not sure the Hollywood cases will impact reporting in Pittsburgh.
Floyd said she’s not fully convinced either.
“It depends on whether there’s a result in Hollywood as well, if there’s positive change.”
Look below for a list of resources for victims of sexual assault:
According to The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
There is help for victims, including some of the resources below:
- Contact the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) by calling 1-866-363-7273 or visiting http://paar.net/.
- Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Telephone hotline number at 800-656-4673.
- The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape has multiple locations in Western Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Clarion and Erie. To learn more, click here.
Tips on Reporting Harassment To HR
EEOC Definition of Sexual Harassment
Types of Sexual Harassment
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment