- Fairness in the Courts
- Authored Amicus Brief
Celebrity singer-songwriter Kesha is facing a typical experience of sexual assault survivors who decide to publicly name their abusers and demonstrates how legal action is used to harass and intimidate survivors of all income levels. Survivors face substantial hurdles to reporting, and when they do report the abuse, whether to an employer, to a school or to law enforcement, they frequently face retaliation. One increasingly common form of retaliation is that the named harasser threatens to sue them if they report the incident. All too often, the threat of a retaliatory defamation lawsuit has its desired effect: survivors do not report; sexual harassers abuse more people, threatening to ruin them if they report; and the cycle repeats. That was precisely what the legislature sought to tackle in amending New York’s Anti-SLAPP law. New York’s amendments to its Anti-SLAPP law, with the specific purpose of protecting survivors, thus marked a key step in moving away from a system that privileges abusers’ reputations over survivors’ ability to tell the truth. The court’s decision holds that the legislature meant to fix this “broken system” only for those who happened to be sued after the amendments’ effective date—and did not intend to help the very people whose plight it cited as the reason for amending the law, since they had already been sued. Legal Momentum leads this amicus brief to assist the court with understanding the substantial negative effect of its decision on survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimate partner abuse.