“She had to say the magic words – sexual harassment. Inappropriate wasn’t enough…You have to say the magic words.”
The story’s called Sexual Harrasment Claims Play Out in Polson, and you can read it at the Missoulian.
This is what I’ve been able to piece-together from the article’s profile of the 3-day trial:
There’s a woman named Tristan Flagen, and she was a lifeguard at the Mission Valley Aquatic Center.
Supposedly, Flagen was “sexually harassed” for five months by an assistant swim coach, a man that had been accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in 2011…though those charges were never officially filed, as the girl “wasn’t willing to move forward with the prosecution.”
This harassment supposedly began after Flagen refused to go out on a date with the swim coach.
While many of us would have shrugged that rejection off, the swim coach actually began “texting her sexual photographs and videos of himself,” and even “masturbated in front of her” in the bathroom.
“It was just fun pictures,” the swim coach contends. The social media account he used to send the photos was deleted soon after, as well as a Tumblr account the swim coach used for “adult content that he had collected.”
Flagen – no doubt knowing the realities that women face in the workplace – decided to do nothing, knowing that if she was to do anything, she’d be fired.
But then came the day when the swim coach “walked in the family bathroom while she was showering and propositioned her,” with “his pants pulled down.”
At that point Flagen went to the center’s manager.
The swim coach denies he ever had a relationship with Flagen, saying that he first would have asked her “if she goes to church and what her relationship was with Christ.”
Later on in the article we learn Flagen and the swim coach’s relationship “was on again, off again.”
Flagen contends that the swim coach was never given the appropriate background checks, as company policy mandates.
Flagen’s supervisors claim this harassment never happened, and that Flagen is trying “to get back at someone” and that – because she’s an “emotional person” – these claims cropped up. Another of the center’s claims is that Flagen was “upset over the firing of a relative.”
The center also contends that Flagen could be “very mean and angry to everyone” one day “and then the next day she could be happy as a lark.” The center also contends that, since Flagen had once been in law enforcement, it was her duty to report these charges…which the center contends she did not.
Ultimately, the center calls Flagen’s claims “fake news.”
Last year, Montana had 39 rape cases.
In 1980, we had 21. In 1960 we had 7.
While it’s true we might have had more rapes back then, if that was the case…they simply weren’t reported.
Imagine a woman in 1960 going to law enforcement or her boss, saying a powerful man in the community had raped her, or – lesser in importance for many minds – sexually harassed her.
That woman would be ridiculed, lambasted, and made a pariah in her community.
Little has changed over the years.
Up in Polson, it’s your typical ‘he said, she-said’ case.
Who will the jury believe?
Hard to say.
Flagen already mentions that she probably won’t be able to get another job in Polson. The swim coach is probably in the same boat.
Still, the swim coach was able to do just fine over the past 7 years…even though he’d been accused of rape.
In the article it’s quite clear that the aquatic center’s management wants to reduce their liability as much as possible.
That’s really what it’s all about – covering our asses, whether sexual abuse happened or not. The idea of paying out tens of thousands of dollars in damages for something an employee did – one that never had a background check – is just too much to fathom.
Maybe there are women staffers in management positions at the center. It doesn’t matter – protecting the center’s bottom line is more important than ensuring a safe working environment.
And despite all their talk about women’s rights, Democrats have not mentioned this case at all…even after the 3-day trial.
Nor will they.
I’ll update you as soon as we get a verdict in this case.
While many of the Democrats in this state label me as sexist because I dig into the financial reports of women – and men – the truth is I simply can’t abide with the idea that women should be paid less while the powerful men they work for, and with, expect them to spread their legs at the drop of a hat.
It’s 2018. It sure doesn’t seem that way, however.