News Release

Are Sexual Predators Enabled by Secrecy Agreements?

PAUL BLAND, pbland at publicjustice.net
LESLIE BAILEY, lbailey at publicjustice.net, @Public_Justice
Bland is executive director of the group Public Justice. Bailey is a staff attorney there; her expertise includes court secrecy.

Bland said today: “Far too often, secrecy agreements — in settlements, in nondisclosure agreements, in forced arbitration clauses — enable sexual predators to evade detection. As a result, in a series of cases, women have been raped, assaulted and harassed by men who had already been caught committing these acts before, but were able to hide their crimes through secrecy clauses. Women injured by sexual predators are often put under enormous pressure to submit to these types of fine print gag orders, and it has had a terrible public cost, only a small part of which has come to light. Public Justice strongly believes that the U.S. Congress needs to take strong steps to ban these abusive provisions.”

Bailey said today: “For every woman speaking out right now about being assaulted or sexually harassed, there are countless others who can’t tell their story without risking legal sanctions — because they had to agree to secrecy as a condition of keeping their job or settling a lawsuit. Seeing several powerful men lose their jobs might make it feel like we’re at a tipping point. But if we’re going to make real systemic change, we first need to do something about the legal tools that allow abusers — including those whose jobs don’t put them in the public eye — to keep getting away with it.”