Why should Lisa Borders have to step down? The CEO of Time’s Up, the Hollywood-led organization created in response to sexual misconduct allegations against such high-profile figures as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, resigned within 24-hours of learning that her son was accused of sexual assault. According to its website, “Time’s Up is an organization that insists on safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds.” News reports indicate that Borders stepped down because her role “was in conflict with being a mother who was taking active steps to defend her son.”
But why is there a conflict? Why can’t a woman dedicate her professional time to helping women’s voices be heard while also supporting her accused son? We say that there isn’t a conflict—and the perception of a conflict is exactly where Americans are getting it wrong when it comes to how our country responds to the scourge that is sexual assault and harassment.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that just because Borders’ son was accused of sexual assault does not mean that he violated the law. The accuser only recently reported the matter to law enforcement. Borders’ son has not been charged with a crime, let alone been found guilty. Our criminal justice system is built upon our deeply rooted belief in due process and the presumption of innocence. While sexual assault advocates lobby for trauma-informed investigations, the fact is that just because someone believes something happened doesn’t make it true. Accusers are entitled to a forum in which to be heard and a serious response to their claims. However, we cannot condemn individuals before claims are evaluated for credibility and merit.
Why should anyone, much less Borders, have to run from a job after a mere allegation is made against a family member or loved one?
We don’t know how the criminal investigation of Borders’ son will turn out. Regardless, she should remain in her position. If her son is cleared, this life experience can lend a different perspective to the Time’s Up conversation about sexual assault. On the other hand, if Borders’ son did what he has been accused of, how does that undermine her ability to perform her job? There is no reason why she cannot love and support her son while simultaneously fighting for an end to sexual assault and harassment in the work place. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
We all understand that there are consequences for making bad decisions, and recognize that some consequences must be harsher than others. You can love your child, but stand in opposition to the choice your child made. The bitter irony of the allegations against Borders’ son should not cast her away from the cause she has passionately championed. Borders should not feel shame. Get up, Lisa Borders – no Time’s Up for you.
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