#20 Spill the beans

A phrase often used to describe sharing someone else’s secret. Something most of us might have accidentally done & felt terrible shame about. But some predatory sex offenders will use this as a useful tactic to deflect their guilt & shift the blame.

Let’s take a look at at Cheryl & Dean. They met at work & started dating after a few years of working together. Cheryl had heard rumours that Dean was a bit of a ‘ladies man’ back in the day. He had started in the company in the 1980’s in his 20’s & was now a director.

Cheryl also held a senior position in a different department & wasn’t phased by Dean’s reputation.

It was well known that younger female members of staff had left the company after rumours that Dean had slept with them & dumped them, leaving them professionally embarrassed. There were suspicions that some women had been paid off & persuaded to sign non-disclosure agreements. Dean was great at his job, as a result he was popular & protected by the then Board of Directors. 

When Cheryl, 49 joined the company, Dean was 61. Dean’s career had progressed & he was much more careful not to mix business & his pleasure. Cheryl felt she could handle a man like Dean. He was handsome & looked much younger than his years. He was fun, charming & powerful. 

Whilst they would joke about his historic reputation, Cheryl admired his ‘honesty’.

One evening, head in his hands he told Cheryl about an affair he’d had with a married colleague 15 years previously. He told Cheryl, he & Michelle had started an illicit affair after a drunken Christmas party. He knew she was married & he was weak, giving in to temptation. 

Dean told Cheryl how flirtatious Michelle was & she was hard to resist.

Everyone at work eventually had found out.

There was a lot of office gossip & it wasn’t long before Michelle’s  husband turned up at work threatening him. Dean was ashamed & really scared. He managed to talk his way out of the altercation, & the husband left the office.

However the next day Michelle called in sick, the police entered the office & arrested Dean for rape.

He was shocked & in disbelief

Hours alone in a cell Dean concluded Michelle hadn’t admitted the affair, saying instead that Dean had raped her. He reckoned her husband had called her bluff & demanded she report it to the police. 

He explained how it was the worst day of his life, being locked up like a criminal & questioned for several hours. His solicitor (a good friend) was incredible & he wasn’t charged. Dean told Cheryl the officers told him ‘off the record’ that false allegations are really common & they believed his version & there would be no further action.

They said they’d dealt with women like Michelle hundreds of times & they were sorry for the embarrassment & inconvenience. 

Silly cow. Cheryl thought.

Michelle  didn’t return to work.

Once the dust had settled, Dean was promoted. Everyone at work felt sorry for him & were pleased the ‘false allegation’ didn’t affect his career.

At least… this is what Dean told Cheryl.

It wasn’t true.

Michelle & Dean hadn’t had an affair.

She had politely but nervously declined his advances for months. She was uncomfortable as he was her boss. She changed the way she dressed, avoided being alone with him& frequently mentioned her husband to send a clear but subtle message ‘leave me alone’. 

The rumours about an affair was a hot topic amongst the staff, but there was no truth in them.

The only truth was Michelle’s.

But nobody believed her, the police, her colleagues & her husband. The saying ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ ringing in her ears filling her with self doubt & blame. 

How common do you think this story is?

Why would reporting this to the police have been so difficult for Michelle?

Why do you think organisations protect men in powerful positions?

What affect will this have had on Michelle & the other women working for Dean? 

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