Miltenberg: “Opinion: What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?,” New York Times


What do you do if you are accused of sexual misconduct and believe yourself to be innocent? If you’re Brett Kavanaugh, you go nuclear. But if you’re a progressive man who sees himself as a feminist ally, the politically acceptable strategy is to keep quiet and lay low. […] Stephen Elliott, the founder of the left-wing website The Rumpus, followed that script. A year ago this month, his name appeared along with some 70 others on an anonymously sourced Google spreadsheet. It was called the Shitty Media Men list and the accusations ranged in severity from “weird lunch dates” to “rape.” Rape is what Stephen Elliott was accused of. […] But on Wednesday, the day before the statute of limitations ran out, Mr. Elliott stopped lying low and sued the creator of the list for defamation. He filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York against “Moira Donegan and Jane Does (1-30)” seeking $1.5 million in damages. […] [T]his is a case being brought against a mostly anonymous group who created an anonymous list containing potentially defamatory statements. I asked Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment expert, about this case, and he said he had never seen one like it. Andrew T. Miltenberg, Stephen Elliott’s attorney, admits he’s never brought one like it. That’s not to say that Mr. Miltenberg is new to defending men in sexual assault cases. He is famous for it. […] He estimates that he currently has more than three dozen cases stemming from sexual assault charges […] but that Mr. Elliott’s is the first where he’s taken on anonymous accusers. “I’ve had cases where we know what the allegations are and we know who said them. None of that is true here,” he said. “The intersection between the internet and allegations like this and anonymity is very dangerous place to be. There’s no protection for the accused. It’s the perfect way to assassinate someone’s character without having to prove anything.”

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