My friend is accused of sexual harrassment. Now what?
September 28, 2023 10:44 AM   Subscribe

A very close friend of mine has been sued for sexual harrassment. I have no idea how to handle this.

I'm going to have to remain pretty vague for what I assume are obvious reasons. This friend is someone I'm very close to and we've helped each other through some very difficult times. I experience him as a smart, kind, and thoughtful person, but I've read the complaint in the lawsuit and assuming that even half of what it alleges is true, it's pretty damn bad. I've spoken to him briefly about the suit, and his position that that it's mostly lies and what isn't a flat-out lie is exaggerated.

Putting aside whether I believe the allegations to be true, I'm at a complete loss as to where to go from here. I adore my friend and I owe him a lot, but I'm not at all sure I'll be able to listen to him talk about this without judgment, or whether that's even appropriate. Has anyone ever been in a position like this? What did you do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wow what a confusing situation to be in.

It's OK to take some time to think about this before you respond or decide your next move. Take some deep breaths and center yourself. It's great you're reaching out for outside perspectives.

If you do decide to keep this person in your life, there's a lot of work that's been done about addressing harm outside of our usual carceral approaches. Critical Resistance has a good set of links. I also just picked up We Will Not Cancel Us and read it in an hour or so (there's a $5 ebook online). It's kind of specific to certain left activist circles but I think some of the principles might be helpful if your aim is to maintain a relationship with this person.
posted by latkes at 10:52 AM on September 28 [11 favorites]

I had a high school friend who was actually convicted for sexual assault, and I didn't find out until quite a bit later. I knew this person was in jail, and we corresponded for awhile before they told me why they were in jail. At that point, I spoke to another mutual friend who had also been corresponding with them. Ultimately, I made the decision to not have that person in my life anymore, and I asked them to not contact me anymore. It was difficult to reconcile the person I thought I knew, with the person who had done what they had done. But I knew deep down that I couldn't be friends with someone who was able to do what they did.

Our mutual friend stayed in touch with them for a little bit longer, and then fell out of contact with them. Later I found out one of the things that had stopped that person from continuing to reach out to the convicted friend was that the convicted friend started to say things like "well they wanted it" etc. as justification for what they did. I think our mutual friend had been holding out hope that the convicted friend would learn a lesson and realize how bad their behaviour had been and turn over a new leaf, and when it became clear that wasn't the case the mutual friend just stopped talking to the convicted friend.

It was a very confusing time. I had to deal with feelings of hurt and guilt that I wasn't quite sure what to do with. It felt like by having been friends with that person at all I was somehow complicit in what they had done, even though our relationship had been at a distance save for the odd lunch date a couple of times per year since we'd left high school. And, of course, disgust at what they had done as well. I'm thankful I was able to hash a lot of it out with the mutual friend, and the mutual friend supported me in my decision to break ties with that person.

I don't know how helpful that is to you. Just know that you are allowed to have very complicated feelings about it, and that what you decide to do is your decision to make. And that person and any mutual friends do need to honour that decision when you make it.
posted by eekernohan at 11:09 AM on September 28 [17 favorites]

You can continue to be his friend without listening to him (say, "Hey, this is hard for me to listen to. I'm your friend, I adore you, and I'm here for you in other ways. Let's talk about something else").

You can also avoid taking a position on this particular topic. If pressed by him on whether you believe his side of the story, you can say exactly what you said here: "I experience you as a kind and lovely person, and you have been unfailingly nice to me. You're my friend and I care about you." All of that is true, and reassuring, and it also avoids making a statement about what really happened elsewhere with other people. That's what you want to aim for.

Don't make public statements about him, not even to say something like what you said here, because it will mean something more - it will mean that you are standing up to be counted on his side, to discredit the accuser.

Look, false accusations happen, and also abusive people can be perfectly lovely to everyone other than their victims. You simply don't know enough to make a judgment. So stick with being his friend. That's all. The internet has fooled us into thinking we need to Pick A Side and Have An Opinion on every single thing, but actually we don't have to do that! We can opt out of making judgments about things we don't know enough about.
posted by MiraK at 11:27 AM on September 28 [44 favorites]

I think Christina Ricci summed it up nicely lately. Just because he's been an excellent friend/person to you doesn't mean that he didn't do it. You weren't his target audience, so he could treat you well. (I keep thinking of Ashton, Mila and Danny here....whee.) It's definitely a head fuck to find out something like this when in your experience, they've been wonderful. However, sometimes people have a dark/bad side and you weren't the person they displayed that too. I agree with MIraK that I would absolutely not give any public statements of support to him, though. Again, look at Ashton and Mira.

However, I have Concerns that your friend here is claiming it's all lies and/or exaggerations. That's...not a good sign for his innocence here. If he did these things and denies, denies, denies instead of realizing this is bad, I'm concerned. I have the impression from reading this that it doesn't sound particularly ambiguous or that he sounds like he's being framed to you.

I haven't experienced this in my personal life, but I'll say I know or knew a few dudes who I found out years ago didn't behave in the best ways. (Like one stalked an ex after they broke up and got in trouble for that, another got caught cheating, a third one was apparently quite the jerk to his ex and vice versa in ways that nobody will even talk about.) However, I only knew them after their bad behavior, it's been several years, and as far as I can tell they've shaped up/made amends, etc. and aren't behaving as such now, the two I still see from time to time are now in relationships and are doing well. That frankly helps me to deal with the ethical dilemmas of this sort of thing, because they aren't doing it any more. This...may not be the case for you here.

Look, as a woman, I would cut off someone who's sexual harassing now. I would HAVE to for my own safety. I don't know your gender or if you're the preferred gender or not for your friend to sexually harass (I'm gonna guess no). If you aren't his target audience and/or you don't have him around his target audience for harassment like bring him to hang out with your wife and teenage daughter, I presume it might be easier for you to remain his friend if you can just...I dunno, ignore the lawsuit. But do I think you should do that? .... honestly, I don't know how you could if you know he's secretly like that. I think that's what drove us all nuts about Ashton and Mira: I don't care at that point if he's your soul mate and pinky swear blood brother of 30 years, he got convicted, dude, and swearing that he's a good non-drug guy...doesn't work.

For the moment, you can try neutrality. But if he's proven for this? You have some ethical decisions to make as to whether not you feel comfortable keeping someone like that in your life, or if you do, limit his exposure to targets while around you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:37 AM on September 28 [10 favorites]

MiraK has it. I had a friend who was accused of molesting a 14 year old girl as a 22 year old adult. None of us, including his brother, could believe it. I found him being sentenced to prison was a good time to cut off contact, if you are interested in that.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:42 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]

In my case, I pulled back from friendship with a friend who allegedly sexually harassed another friend. I remain thankful for the role that friend played in my life through some difficult times, and for who we were to each other in earlier times, but it felt like that was just one piece of a larger picture. This friend has an outlook that hasn't aged well, and it felt like they needed to do some serious work of self-examination to update their views and behavior. I could see the effects of their not doing so in other areas of their life as well, and it was hurting other people besides my friend who was harassed. They had hurt me and put me in difficult positions through their choices a few times too.

What happened and its effects made it difficult for me to want to be around them, and when I pulled back, I felt like I was able to see those larger patterns more clearly, in a way I wasn't when we were closer. The legal aspects of that and related situations also made me want to avoid any involvement—I was pretty sure they had broken the law.

All of this is difficult, and I still wonder sometimes whether I made the right call. Pulling back was something I did in conjunction with making some other major life changes, which have largely been positive for me. It's hard to separate out moving on from that friendship and moving on from some other things in my life, because it was all done in an effort to move toward spaces and people that were better for me and more aligned with my goals.

I had known this friend for a very long time, so I have lots of memories, in-jokes, etc. that float around in my head rent-free from our years of friendship. Like a lot of things in life, it's taken some work to accept that those are things associated with essentially another lifetime. I still haven't been able to figure out what I would say if I saw them again. Maybe I've copped out of having the hard conversation I should have sometime. I don't know; it's technically none of my business, but since it concerns two friends of mine, it has become my business, and I had to make a very difficult choice to support one friend over another, despite our history of friendship.
posted by Calcifer at 12:00 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]

For me, everything would hinge on whether I thought they had done it. I know you want to put that aside but that's really where my decision tree would start. If you haven't already, my response would be "tell me the whole story, leave nothing out, and if I find out there are any lies or attempts to make something sound better than it really is, we're done."

If I believed them, I would remain friends and be as supportive as possible. If hearing about a sexual assault case is hard for you regardless of their guilt/innocence it'd be perfectly fine to say that topic is off-limits.

If I was unsure or thought that, really, they probably were guilty of some/all of what they were accused of then I'd likely end the friendship entirely. If they were guilty but taking responsibility I could consider supporting them – depends a lot on the situation.

My bar for friendship is fairly high, and I don't call people or consider people friends lightly. If I describe someone as a friend you can assume I'd trust them with my life, around my family, and believe that you can too. They might be weird, unrefined, "an acquired taste," or kinda a jerk in some ways, but I believe them to be morally above reproach. I couldn't maintain a friendship outside those parameters.
posted by jzb at 12:02 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]

I had a good friend. We were quite close for years. We even dated for a while! It was okay. We even stayed friends, afterwards - we even managed to navigate the thorny waters of FWB successfully. I mean we were close close friends.

He had mental health challenges; okay, so do many if not most of the people I know. He had some anger management issues; okay, he never turned them on me. He was truly horrible to a couple other people that I heard about; again, I said, okay, these things happen and maybe they're exaggerating.

I am not, in retrospect, proud of that.

He then dated a mutual friend for quite some time, maybe a year? Maybe more? They broke up and he went full unhinged. He stalked her and he sent reams of completely abusive and threatening texts not only to her but to her whole family, including her 10 year old child. So. I did not want to believe it but I saw the texts.

I am not friends with that person anymore. I made a decision to walk out of his life. Frankly I'm ashamed of how long it took me to make that choice but eventually I realized that I couldn't be friends with him. It helped that I moved away, not gonna lie - if I was still in the same town it would have been much harder, although our entire mutual friend group also walked away from him. I didn't do any kind of big You Are Dead To Me speech or anything - I just drifted away and so did he. I am sorry for all his challenges and sad that he was such an asshole.

But I'm much sorrier for my other friend who he abused.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:08 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]

I've spoken to him briefly about the suit, and his position that that it's mostly lies and what isn't a flat-out lie is exaggerated.

How did you feel, listening to this? To me, it sounds like something certainly happened and he's being pretty defensive about it and indeed turning it around on his accuser. I think if that's the picture, by maintaining the friendship you run the risk of enabling someone who has in fact done something pretty bad and is continuing to compound it.

My own experiences had been with people in the workplace who had enough power that plenty of people were willing to remain cordial with them after their behavior came to light, and they didn't need me for that, so no real dilemma.
posted by BibiRose at 12:30 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]

(I want to underline that my comment above is based on you genuinely never having heard anything untoward from or about him except for this.

I am absolutely not suggesting that you should continue to be friends with people as long as they're always nice to you, even if you've heard rumors that they treat other people badly. Yeah? My comment was assuming a 100% awesome dude whom you've never had any reason to doubt until now.)
posted by MiraK at 12:55 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]

I started writing this whole long comment about what I did when something similar happened to me, but the summary version is that I wasn't sure what to believe, distanced myself, and it turned out that the allegations were completely, irrefutably, false. We aren't friends anymore.

I sometimes wonder if I could have handled it differently, or if I should have handled it differently, but the fact is that I was not emotionally capable of supporting someone else through that, even if I totally believed in their innocence. I made it really clear to him, too, but he needed me to be there in a way that I was not willing to compromise on. This actually isn't what ended the friendship but it certainly contributed.

So I guess my advice is to be honest with yourself, and with your friend.
posted by sm1tten at 1:40 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]

One thing you can do right now is allow yourself time to adapt to this new information about your friend. In my experience the first instinct is "no! he would never" and find a bunch of reasons that it is probably false. I think that is a normal response and I try to give myself time to emotionally adapt to the person I now know/think them to be. You are also adjusting to the possibility that your judgment about this person was wrong. Just recognizing in yourself a natural desire to find them innocent, and a natural desire to know the truth, and let that sort itself out emotionally over time can allow you to step back and not need to know the answer or make big moves right now.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:54 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]

This is distressing.

But it doesn't mean that he did it. Sorry to say, but sometimes these accusations ARE fabricated. I've seen it happen.

Vent your (totally understandable) anxiety about it to someone other than him, and keep an open mind. If there's a suit, then someone other than you has the responsibility to find out what actually happened, and the truth is likely to out.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:23 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]

This person is a long-time friend. You are eligible for a frank discussion about the incident(s). Could you encourage them to talk about it in full?

"Sexual harassment" carries the same information as "rainy day." If that's the extent of it, then the terms of the suit could well be exaggerations. A suit is being filed, not criminal charges. So, you would be well-served to find out more before you abandon a long-term and (so far) rewarding friendship.

Hold what you got and go to the trial, if there is one. Otherwise, find out more from your friend. If you can, see who else can contribute to what you know. Well-meaning people may offer opinions based on their own experiences. Still, unless they know more about this incident with your friend than you have told us (your friend's characterization), they are not qualified to advise whether to stand with your friend or flee.

Commenters in this thread have cautioned you to develop a perspective above your relationship. This is a good idea. What if your friend is (pick the worst-case eventuality)? However, there's no need to go there until you are better informed about what happened.

Disclosure: I have cut ties with a close friend (for reasons, and I stand by them). That was nearly twenty years ago, and it still stings.
posted by mule98J at 4:59 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]

is position that that it's mostly lies and what isn't a flat-out lie is exaggerated.

This part, specifically, concerns me. Speaking as a male, were I in the situation where this kind of thing was alleged, I would not be saying it's "mostly lies" -- I would be running around in circles terrified that my life was about to be destroyed, and probably abusing alcohol (or other drugs) to cope with the stress. I mean, I would genuinely expect to wake up on the floor of my bathroom every day after blacking out from drinking in a desperate attempt to avoid having a heart attack from the crushing stress. It's making me hyperventilate just thinking about it.

...that he's not walking in circles saying "oh god oh god oh god oh god" for nine hours a day bothers me. Everyone processes things differently, and I can only see through my lens, but if I reacted the way you describe HIM reacting, it would be a huuuuge red flag (I've never done this type of thing, I'm projecting).

I have also seen identical accusations made in my broader acquaintance group, and then everyone just kinda papered over it like it was nothing. Women included, which drove me up a fucking wall, so I'm probably biased.
posted by aramaic at 6:31 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]

I am in the somewhat unique position of having experienced something similar twice now - two of my exes have been arrested for sexual misconduct. One was recently arrested for solicitation of a minor (it was a DATELINE NBC type of sting operation), and the other was jailed for a few years for possession of child pornography.

Granted, these are both different from your situation in that you are friends with this person, and both of the guys in my case were my two "evil exes" whom I'd long since severed ties with. But - y'all, that still messes with your brain. I spent a few hours each time I found out asking myself "how the hell could I have not seen that coming?" and questioning my own judgement.

I'm saying this because I think that not only is it impossible to listen to your friend without judgement, I think you should be using your judgement in this case. But not the way you think - I think you should be trying to gather as many facts as possible about the situation and deciding your response based on that. Your friend is going to have his own perspective and his own say-so about what happened. But - you've also had a whole history with this person, and you've likely seen what he gets like when he is defensive. You've seen his behavior in the past, you've seen his various moods, you've seen what he gets like around women. All of that can play into how you react here - as do the actual facts of the case, what you learn about the victim, what other mutual friends have experienced about your friend, etc. You'll get a much fuller picture that way, and that can affect what you ultimately decide to do and how to proceed for your own self.

Case in point - since I didn't have any recent experience with my exes, I was largely going on my older experience of them, and on some shocked "what the fuck, what happened there" Googling. In the case of the guy who was imprisoned - I later learned that he'd suffered a stroke a couple years prior, and from what I understand, sometimes that can mess up your judgement something fierce. So my reaction was tempered with the thought that well, maybe he was suffering some diminished judgement and it had an unforeseen and tragic impact on him. He's paid his debt to society and is apparently now in a support group, as well. So my opinion of HIM is different than my opinion of the other guy, who I remember as being a lot more manipulative and egotistical and can go pound sand, as far as I'm concerned.

My point being - I feel like this is a time when you should be using your judgement, but using it to gather and sort through all the information about the situation. That can help you decide what to do here. It'll take time, and you very well may come to a conclusion that no one else would, but it's the best way to figure out what feels right to you.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]

I have a lot of strong feelings about the way these types of situations have been handled generally over the last few years--some positive, some negative.

What I will say is there is no certain way that an innocent person should act, just as there's no certain way that a guilty person should act. (There's a reason polygraphs are garbage.) I know someone who stands in stores hopping from foot to foot like he's concerned they're going to figure out he's robbed their safe, but he's just an egregiously fidget-y person. On the flip side, I'm not sure if there's ever been a serial killer whose capture hasn't resulted in at least one "He was so nice. We never would have known" soundbite. Projecting how we would act (or, let's be honest, for most of us, how we THINK we would act) in a certain situation onto another person is folly of the highest degree.

And nearly every single actually-innocent person who has been released after being jailed for something they didn't do says some form of "I'm innocent" which necessarily implies the other side is lying or otherwise wrong. (A lot of not-innocent people say it, point is that someone claiming they are innocent or claiming there are lies being lobbed in their direction isn't necessarily proof of guilt or innocence.)

My suggestion is you take time to figure out how YOU feel about the situation before you start talking to him in detail about it, if that's something you even want to do. I agree with posters above at least as far as that goes. Part of that is deciding what your line is for staying in any sort of friendship with him. And if you're still interested in doing that, you need to figure out what you can about the situation beyond just "he said they said" so you're making a decision based on as much information as you can and not just feelings.
posted by tubedogg at 7:28 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]

I've seen this happen a few times. In a particularly painful case, someone I know closely was accused of sexual harassment. It turned out that the allegations were grossly overblown and maybe entirely due to misunderstandings, but the social damage was already done, and the person was ostracized from their social group. Eventually, the entire community disintegrated. There was more cumulative social harm created by people acting immediately to cast out the "bad person" and taking sides, rather than thinking kindly, thoughtfully, and slowly about the situation.

A few nuances to note.

1. When someone is accused of sexual harassment, the accused person in question is usually in a panicked, confused state. It can look like defensiveness, denial, confusion, anger, panic, rage, fear, depression. This could be because they did, in fact harass someone, and are trying desperately to hide their actions. Or because they didn't, and they're confused and scared. Or maybe they're so confused and scared that they're pretending very hard to perform normalcy. Et cetera. They are not at their best.

While it's tempting, it's not very meaningful to evaluate someone based on their perceived presentation. Defensiveness itself does not mean anything.

2. I'm not sure what the social context of your friend's situation is, but I found that these situations can also become an scapegoating opportunity for some people to exercise cruelty and self-righteousness under the guise of justice. There can be a strange sense of social competition prove one's own goodness by evaluating the person, or by policing each others' distance from that person as much as possible -- "anyone who associates with X is a 'bad' person". The times at which I've seen people at their worst was when they believed they had the 'license to hurt a 'bad' person'.

I want to second the texts that latkes shares above; specifically, the We Will Not Cancel Us by Adrienne Maree Brown, as well as Sarah Schulman's Conflict is not Abuse.


In a healthy, kind, just world, the support that your friend should have (regardless of whether the accusations are true or false) is:
- People he can trust who he can share his full truth to, without fear of cruel punitive action
- People who are willing to be upfront and direct with him, who can help him understand the full impact of his actions, whatever they were, and how he can be accountable / grow to be a different person
- People can help communicate with the accuser or other people to understand how the situation can be de-escalated or mitigated, both for the accuser's sake as well as the accused.

I'm not saying that this is your sole responsibility -- not at all. Nor might he be available or ready for this. But I do think that's how we have better people. How much of this you can handle is up to you, and another question entirely.
posted by many more sunsets at 7:58 PM on September 28 [11 favorites]

(Also, please feel free to DM if you'd like to talk more about this.)
posted by many more sunsets at 9:13 PM on September 28

his position that that it's mostly lies and what isn't a flat-out lie is exaggerated

The tone and tenor of this disavowal would matter a lot to me. And you should be able to read between the lines of the complaint to tell what will be disclosed in Discovery, and it's extremely hard to find a lawyer who will represent you in a suit like this if you're not bringing evidence: emails, texts, witness accounts, security camera footage, security badge data, etc. It would be one thing if my friend said, "this didn't happen and there can't be evidence because there isn't any evidence, I'm truly and sincerely baffled by this but I understand if you aren't sure if you can believe me" and another thing when it's "well okay they have some texts and other stuff but blah blah blah" because I stop listening then, they did it.

You can decide to just privately continue the relationship until you find out more, but I don't know if you get to say "don't tell me what a terrible person you are so I don't have to take responsibility for my association with you", any more than a supportive friend can really say "I care about you but I don't want to know anything about this ongoing thing that is likely pretty life-ruining whether there's any truth to it or not". Either way, it is a big fuckin' deal and I don't think there's an opt-out here. I think you can proceed carefully with the friendship prepared at any moment to hear something that for sure crosses the line for you - or maybe you do find out over time that there is more to this story than what seems apparent from the information you currently have, but you should mostly brace for the former.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:07 AM on September 29

Everyone else has given good general advice. One thing I would do, if you keep engaging with him at all, is probe into “mostly lies”. That is, he has a story about some things that he agrees did happen that’s connected to the harassment allegations. That doesn’t mean he’s guilty, but you should listen carefully to the part of the story that everyone agrees on, and see if you think his innocence or guilt is more plausible in light of that.
posted by LizardBreath at 3:47 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]

I've been in your position. The accusations were completely false.
Through that experience, I learned that a report of sexual harassment is like that of any other unlawful behavior (theft, non-sexual violence, stalking, etc..) in that it is sometimes fabricated and weaponized.
And that is speaking as a woman, a feminist, and someone who used to knee-jerkingly think that the stigma of reporting such harassment meant that those who did so were probably telling the truth.

I would advise you to strive to listen to your friend without judgment and continue to support him, especially if you are as close to him as you say, and if he is denying the accusations. Over time, the situation will become clearer.
posted by nemutdero at 8:44 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]

Somewhat similar situation: someone in my social circle, around 30, was accused of assaulting a 14yo girl who was a music student of his. He was adamant that the situation had been misread. When he asked us, his friends, to write letters of character reference, I found I simply could not do it. I didn’t actually have any insight into the allegations and I could not rule them out. I wasn’t there. My impressions of him as a “good guy” were too shallow to stand against material allegations. I just could not make assertions about his actions. So I did not come out in support, and he went to prison for 7 years, and I regret nothing.
posted by Miko at 10:04 PM on September 29

Coming back in because I'm a bit uneasy about the comments that sometimes assault cases can be fabricated. While that is true, it is also quite rare, but a lot of people point to the handful of actual fabricated cases as a reason to disbelieve other real victims.

However, I'm not suggesting you should therefore assume your friend must be guilty - I'm not suggesting you assume anything, is my point. At the moment all you have is your friend's say-so about what happened, and I am suggesting that the best thing to do is to gather way more information from all angles in order to decide what to do and how to proceed - not just from your friend, but from other mutual friends about their own experiences with him (is there a female friend who hasn't hung around him as much lately? Did she get a weird vibe off him?), from the facts of the case, even from lawyer friends who can help explain things.

Rather than this being a straightforward black-and-white "he did it" or "she's lying", my hunch is that it's far more likely that whatever happened fell into a HUGE gray area in which your friend and the complainant had some miscommunication, and either one or the other or both had assumptions about the situation that were wrong; or maybe one or the other of them is unclear what the law about sexual harassment actually is or isn't; or maybe your friend has some behavior he's yet to unlearn and he's been kind of on the edge with it before, and this is the first time he went a tiny bit too far; or any one of a number of things. And - how he responds going forward is also something to consider; he's defensive now, but will he continue to be defensive? Or when he's told that "dude, you went too far this time" will he accept that?

In short - while it's unlikely this accusation was false, it's possible, but right now you don't know that. She could be lying. She could be telling the truth. Your friend could be in the wrong. Your friend could not. There are a countless number of explanations for what happened, and right now you have nowhere near enough information to decide which explanation is "correct" - nor do you have near enough information to decide what to do. I'm suggesting you find more information about him, and about what happened, and that information will help you make up your mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on September 30

Putting aside whether I believe the allegations to be true, I'm at a complete loss as to where to go from here. I adore my friend and I owe him a lot, but I'm not at all sure I'll be able to listen to him talk about this without judgment, or whether that's even appropriate.

Reading the responses so far, I think "a complete loss" is an incredibly normal reaction.

However, it sounds to me as if you do think that there is truth, and misbehaviour behind these allegations. Maybe not word for word, but in essence. You have three fundamentally different options open to you. (1) you support of your friend (2) you decide you are in favour of the victim (3) you avoid the situation. I can't say which of these is right, sensible or appropriate. But I think trying to do more than one at the same time is like trying to square the circle. It just can't be done in practice.
posted by plonkee at 1:22 AM on October 2

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