If preponderance of the evidence is good enough for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, it should be enough for the court of public opinion too: Understanding legal standards following the #metoo movement
As the #metoo movement continues to make headlines and survivors throughout the country continue to speak up, many people are expressing concerns over taking allegations as fact. In addition to expressing these concerns, many people are claiming that no crimes have been committed and that the alleged perpetrators - Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Adam Venit, and many others - are still "innocent until proven guilty" and that they have not been shown to be "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
While those statements are true, they confuse the issue. Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard used in criminal courts in the United States. However, when it comes to civil liability, the standard is often "by a preponderance of the evidence," essentially meaning "more likely than not." In fact, this standard is applied to the issuance of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO). Much of the accused behavior would be grounds for a survivor to obtain a DVRO, but that remedy was not pursued (likely for the same reasons that the survivors remained silent for all these years). So, to infer that the behavior of these men would not subject them to any court liability is inaccurate and does a disservice to survivors who may now be further silenced for not thinking they can do anything.
If the standard to obtain a DVRO is essentially "more likely than not," then there shouldn't be any problem with employers or the general public making their decisions based on a "more likely than not" standard - essentially using their own judgment. In addition, if you are a survivor of sexual harassment or any other abusive behavior and are in fear of your safety, don't be discouraged by others, and consider seeking a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
Maria E. Crabtree, CFLS