With confidentiality rule, Mass. lawmakers have sexual harassment victims’ concerns in mind
Your Feb. 2 editorial on the House vote concerning nondisclosure agreements calls for rebuttal (“House punts on full transparency”). The position you adopted licenses interference with the rights of victims of sexual harassment and would actually take power away from them.
I joined my 151 colleagues in a bipartisan vote to uphold our current rule, which limits the use of NDAs to cases when they are requested by the victim. There are very real reasons why victims prefer to keep their cases confidential, and we should continue to provide that option. Victims may fear retaliation or ostracism or may want to prevent perpetrators from destroying their reputation. Victims also may have genuine concern for how their friends and family might treat them differently. And they may remain silent because they fear being subjected to intense public scrutiny and blame. I voted in favor of a measure that has empathy for victims and allows the best opportunity to achieve a just resolution.
During the robust debate on the House floor, one of my colleagues, a sexual assault survivor who worked as a rape crisis counselor for a decade, noted that NDAs must be a tool kept available to victims because they allow survivors to feel comfortable coming forward. Indeed, we have rape confidentiality statutes to protect victims, and almost all mainstream media organizations, including yours, won’t publish the names of victims who come forward to protect them from unwanted stigma and scrutiny. The current House rule permitting NDAs at the request of the victim falls in line with these sensible policies and should be applauded, not scorned.
Jeffrey N. Roy
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 10th Norfolk District.