At the height of the MeToo movement, any man with even a modicum of perceived power – from actors and directors to professors and video game developers – was seemingly at risk of being accused of inappropriate behavior.
Outside of high-profile accusations like those against Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Charlie Rose, many men – some with limited “power” – were accused of sexual misconduct. Some of the accusations boiled down to a person simply being a jerk, rather than doing anything actionable. And with Johnny Depp’s current defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, it’s a good time to look back at some of the MeToo allegations that didn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Amber Heard wrote in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that she was the victim of domestic violence. Without naming Depp, Heard included enough information to imply that she was speaking about Depp, causing him to lose his role on “Pirates of the Caribbean” and later his role in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise.
Depp sued Heard for defamation, and the trial is currently underway. There is a barrage of evidence in Depp’s favor, including audio of Heard admitting to hitting Depp, and testimony from numerous individuals disputing her claims while casting her as the abuser. While public opinion may have been on Heard’s side initially, the trial has turned many against the “Aquaman” actress. There is even a petition to remove her from “Aquaman 2,” while many believe Depp has been redeemed.
There will always be people who, for partisan reasons, believe that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while the two were in high school. But the fact remains that there is no evidence to prove the two had ever been in the same room. The people Blasey Ford named as having been present at the party where the assault allegedly occurred had no knowledge of her claims, her best friend at the time also threw cold water on Blasey Ford’s claims.
The second allegation against Kavanaugh, detailed in a New Yorker article, was passed on by The New York Times because the outlet couldn’t corroborate the details. Those details weren’t corroborated in the New Yorker, either, and even the accuser admitted she didn’t know who was involved until after she discussed the matter with Democrat attorneys.
NBC News and others highlighted the farcical claims of Julie Swetnick, even though her allegations strained credulity. She and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, were eventually criminally referred for the stunt.
The allegations against Ansari were widely criticized when they were first made on an obscure website, though some in the media did call him a “sexual predator.” The allegations to many appeared to be displeasure after a bad date, during which Ansari appeared to misread a woman’s confusing “non-verbal cues.”
Despite the allegations being widely dismissed, Ansari all but disappeared for public life, losing his Netflix series “Master of None” and avoiding stand up for months.
A Twitter account claiming the name “Danielle” posted a lengthy claim that Bieber had sexually assaulted her at a Four Seasons hotel in Austin, Texas, in 2014.
Bieber systematically denied each allegation and provided evidence to back up his claims, including images showing that he had brought his then-girlfriend Selena Gomez with him to Austin and was with her when the alleged assault was supposed to have occurred. He also said that he had stayed at an AirBnB with Gomez and their friends on March 9 – the night of the alleged assault – and at a Westin hotel on March 10. He provided receipts to back up his claim and said he never went to the Four Seasons hotel while in Austin, saying he had confirmed this with the regional manager.
Oscar-winning Australian actor Geoffrey Rush obtained a multi-million dollar settlement after being accused of inappropriate behavior toward a female co-star. Rush sued The Daily Telegraph for portraying him as a “pervert” and a “sexual predator.”
In his ruling, Justice Michael Wigney wrote that Rush’s accuser, Eryn Jean Norvill, did not provide evidence to back up her allegations, writing that what she did provide was “not credible or reliable and contradicted by other members of the case.” Wigney further wrote that Rush’s evidence defending himself was compelling.
Following the trial, Rush was accused by another actress, Yael Stone, though he denied her allegations and saying they were “incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context.” The actor did apologize if he made her feel uncomfortable.
A woman named Halina Kuta told Las Vegas police in 2018 that casino mogul Steve Wynn raped her in the early 1970s and that she was the real mother of Wynn’s daughter, whom she claimed to have birthed in a gas station restroom.
Kuta’s allegations were implausible, including her claim that she was a model for Pablo Picasso’s painting “Le Reve,” which was painted more than 10 years before she was born. Even though her claims were implausible, the media still reported them. Wynn sued for defamation and won.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz’s story may not be as well known as others on this list, but it is disturbing nonetheless. Three women accused Diaz of some forms of abuse. The accusations, at worst, amounted to jerkish behavior – nowhere near what was alleged against Harvey Weinstein.
The accusations also turned out to be greatly exaggerated or outright false. Zinzi Clemmons claimed Diaz forcibly kissed her at an event, yet she sent him a friendly email after that event without any indication she was upset about anything. A witness who saw her after the event described her as “delighted, not shaken,” according to The Boston Globe.
Carmen Maria Machado claimed that when she criticized a character in Diaz’s book, he responded with “a blast of misogynist rage and public humiliation.” Audio of the exchange, however, showed that Diaz was perfectly polite and did not spew any “ rage” at her.
Monica Byrne claimed Diaz yelled at her during a dinner argument, calling it a “verbal sexual assault.” Far from it, Byrne had told Diaz that an excerpt of her book had been rejected by The New Yorker and questioned whether the rejection was due to gender bias. Diaz reportedly responded: “I don’t know if you know how statistics work, but that’s like saying if you haven’t been raped then nobody’s been raped.” Byrne then classified the comment as “completely bizarre, disproportionate, and violent.”
The allegations against singer Ali Zafar launched Pakistan’s MeToo movement, but they were rocky from the start. His accuser, fellow singer Meesha Shafi, tried to have her case adjudicated under Pakistan’s law against sexual harassment in the workplace, but could not because she was not an employee of Zafar’s when they toured together. She claimed he groped her in a recording studio at his home as they practiced for the tour. Nine witnesses, including two women, denied the groping took place. One of the female witnesses said that Zafar and Shafi were five to six feet away from each other at all times.
Zafar filed a defamation claim against Shafi and other accusers, discovering that one attorney was behind the allegations and that the accusers were all linked prior to making their claims. Zafar won his defamation claim and a criminal claim against Shafi and the other women.
Rose McGowan, one of the main faces of the MeToo movement, claimed that in the late 1980s, director Alexander Payne “played a soft-core porn movie” for her that he had “directed for Showtime under a different name.” She further accused him of grooming and raping her – all when she was just 15.
Payne responded with a very clear denial: He was a full-time student at UCLA between 1984 and 1990 and had never met McGowan during that time and therefore could not have shown her anything he directed since he hadn’t directed anything professionally at that time. He also said he had never worked for Showtime and had never directed anything under a different name. Further, he noted that he first met McGowan in 1991 (when she was of age) and that they went on a couple dates.
McGowan responded to Payne’s denial by telling Variety: “F*** him and his lies is my comment.”
Alec Klein, a profess or of journalism at Northwestern University, was accused by multiple students and staff members of sexual misconduct. Allegations stretched from inappropriate comments to attempting to kiss a woman prior to hiring her. Klein didn’t do anything to defend himself when the allegations first occurred, rightfully seeing that he would not be believed in the fervor of the MeToo movement.
In 2020, however, he wrote a book about his experience, including evidence contradicting the claims. Some of those claims came from students who had years earlier (at the time they said the misconduct occurred) written “stellar evaluations” of his work as a professor.
The woman who claimed Klein made sexual advances toward her when she applied for a job never substantiated her claims and allegedly made inconsistent statements in her original accusation. Klein wrote that he was surprised his “university did not even lift a finger when it should be defending him even after deciding that those allegations were false three years ago.”
Those In The Gray Area
Hundreds of men were accused during the MeToo movement, but the ones listed in this article are not the only ones who are likely innocent. Many were accused of jerkish behavior, rather than anything criminal.And many of these men were unable to provide definitive evidence to back up their denials, since that is what is needed to dispute such an allegation. Accusers, meanwhile, only have to make a claim and they are mostly protected from questions.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.