War Criminals of the “Harassocaust”

War Criminals of the “Harassocaust”, by David Cole.

Scott Rosendall is a very talented actor, and a good friend. Confined to a wheelchair, he excels at comedic roles that challenge the notion that disabled people are always noble and dignified. Basically, he plays a lot of jerks, and he plays a lot of creeps. One of the things I like about Scott is that he’s ideologically open-minded. He leans left on certain issues, but he’s always up for reasonable conversation with right-wing dickwads like me and his longtime friend Edwin Oslan, my weekly podcast cohost.

Last month, Scott decided to speak out, as an industry professional, about what he saw as the danger in making snap judgments when someone in Hollywood is accused of some manner of improper sexual behavior. In a thoughtful and carefully worded Facebook post (since removed), he warned against getting caught up in a witch hunt.

Well, that turned out to be a mistake! Within minutes, his Hollywood colleagues began insulting him, berating him, and defriending him. And it was about to get worse. One woman in his circle accused him of having “groped” her. She’s a movie editor and documentary film director, but I can’t use her name because when I reached out to interview her, I promised to keep her anonymous. So I’ll call her Linda. Her claim is that at a party some years ago, Scott “put his hand on her chest.” Scott agreed that he did touch her upper chest (not her breasts) while trying, for comedic effect, to make a priest’s “blessing” motion. Linda told him she didn’t like to be touched, and he apologized. A screen shot of a text clearly shows that the woman accepted his apology. She never mentioned the “incident” again for three years, and the two continued to mix cordially at social events.

But following the “witch hunt” post, that all changed. She went after him full-throttle, and she encouraged her friends to do the same. He was called a “monster,” a “molester,” “a creeper who thinks he’s on our side,” and “as bad as a rapist.” There were calls to harass him at his job and “kick his ass.” One woman sent him a late-night threat that implied he was going to be “hunted.” There was absolutely no sense of proportion to the reaction. When Scott tried to defend himself, when he pointed out that Linda had long ago accepted his apology, the attacks intensified. Now he was “blaming the victim.” I’d never seen such vitriol directed at someone, in many cases from people he’d considered friends. Scott was devastated. He issued several heartfelt apologies, not one of which made a damn bit of difference to his pursuers.

His career may indeed suffer because of this; his “hunters” have been reaching out to industry professionals telling them what a “monster” he is.