Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article, “The Case of Al Franken.” The piece delves into the allegations made by Leeann Tweeden that the former Minnesota Senator had sexually harassed her on a U.S.O. Tour in 2006. The article covers the hectic days following Tweeden’s public accusation, in which Franken resigned under mounting political pressure from his own party.
Ms. Mayer looks into the overseas tour in 2006, during which Tweeden alleges that Franken kissed her without her consent and made her feel violated and uncomfortable throughout the trip. It was on this trip that Franken was photographed smiling at the camera, appearing to touch Tweeden’s breasts while she was sleeping.
The article analyzes Franken’s background as a comedian-turned-politician, and Tweeden’s past career as a television personality, and her familiarity within influential conservative circles.
After revisiting all of the claims and media narratives of early December 2017, there are glaring holes and inaccuracies in Tweeden’s account. Ms. Mayer tweeted, “Almost NOTHING His Main Accuser Said checks out” and that Franken got “railroaded.” There are, however, seven other accusers, as well as the photo on the aircraft.
It is a complicated case that occurred during a unique period in which society was reckoning with sexual harassment and assault. There is a set of shared facts, while others remain in dispute. Political and moral calculations were made by fellow Senators and some Senators have since expressed regret at pressuring Franken to resign, while others stand by their decision.
Ms. Katz contends that while Franken’s conduct was certainly inappropriate, the decision to essentially force him from the Senate was disproportionate. “All offensive behavior should be addressed, but not all offensive behavior warrants the most severe sanction.”
As the #MeToo movement faces significant resistance, Ms. Katz believes that Franken’s case is ultimately detrimental to the cause. “To treat all allegations the same is not only inappropriate, it feeds into the backlash narrative that men are vulnerable to even frivolous allegations by women.”
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