It’s been two years since the New York Times and New Yorker investigation into the sexual misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein unleashed the #MeToo movement and a courageous fury over the ways women are mistreated. We look back at the movement that has completely reshaped the way we think of men, women, sex, and power.
Where were you on Thursday, October 5, 2017, the day it all started? We were at our desks, driving carpools, scrolling through emails on the train. We heard buzz swarming around a New York Times story. We knew it was big. We didn't know how big. In the Times story, reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey converted years of brushed-away rumors into an on-the-record reveal: Mega-influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had allegedly been systematically sexually harassing and sexually assaulting women for decades, including many of your favorite actresses. (Weinstein continues to deny the allegations, insisting the encounters were consensual.)
The exposé and the outpouring of stories that followed on Twitter and beyond — now known as the #MeToo movement, inspired by activist Tarana Burke’s coining of the phrase in 2006 — forced a conversation about the intersection of gender and power. When spoken in the booming collective, women's voices became too loud to dismiss. People started talking about their painful experiences with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and everyday, casual sexism. One year on, and we're still listening.
The #MeToo movement has affected public discourse and had tangible repercussions in workplaces in every arena. It has resulted in palpable changes: CEOs ousted, candidates defeated, public figures disgraced. Most recently, we saw a televised, quasi-job interview in which a prospective Supreme Court judge's past alleged incident of sexual misconduct was brought against him. Weinstein’s downfall was the catalyst we needed, but the women’s movement had been gaining momentum earlier in 2017, beginning with the Women’s March and bleeding into the ousting of powerful men. These are the most significant events that mark the radical shift in our cultural outlook regarding sexual misconduct, power dynamics, and the strength of women’s words.
2006: Activist Tarana Burke founds the nonprofit organization Just Be Inc., which serves survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Burke calls her nonprofit’s movement “Me Too.” The phrase came to Burke in 1997 after she heard a 13-year-old sexual abuse survivor share her story during a youth camp. “I didn’t have a response or a way to help her in that moment, and I couldn’t even say ‘me too,’” Burke told the New York Times.
January 21, 2017: On the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency, millions of people participate in the Women’s March on Washington to support gender equality and civil rights. While the March is based in Washington, D.C., there are other protests in cities around the world. The Women’s March on Washington is believed to be the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history.
February 19, 2017: Uber employee Susan Fowler publishes a 3,000 word essay about her “very, very strange” year at Uber, in which she describes a toxic workplace culture where sexual harassment and misconduct occurred frequently. The essay leads to the resignation of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and the firing of 20 other employees who allegedly contributed to the company culture. Even before the #MeToo movement begins, other Silicon Valley companies see the ousting of CEOs following similar charges.
April 1, 2017: An explosive New York Times article details five women’s allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. After the article, advertisers begin to drop the O’Reilly Factor. President Donald Trump defends O’Reilly, saying he didn’t think “Bill did anything wrong.” Pressure mounts, and O’Reilly is eventually ousted from his position on April 17. O’Reilly denies the allegations, calling it a “political and financial hit job.”
October 6, 2015: Almost precisely two years before she was quoted in the Times exposé, Ashley Judd writes an essay in Variety detailing being sexually harassed by a then-unnamed media boss in a hotel room, who she now says was Harvey Weinstein.
October 5, 2017: Along with other actresses and former Weinstein Company employees, Ashley Judd accuses Weinstein of sexual harassment — this time, on the record — in Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey's incriminating New York Times story. In the aftermath, Weinstein publishes a public apology, the first of many public apologies the year would hold. The first sentence of Weinstein’s statement attributed his behavior to growing up in “the ‘60s and ‘70s, when all the rules about workplace and behavior were different,” and insisted the encounters were consensual. In the ensuing days, over 100 women would could come forward with allegations against Weinstein.
October 10, 2017: In a New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow, 13 more women describe sexual harassment or assault at the hands of Weinstein. Farrow would then follow up his reporting with another New Yorker story published on November 6, in which he detailed how Weinstein allegedly used ex-Mossad agents to spy on women he feared would publicly condemn him for his alleged actions.
October 16, 2017: The #MeToo hashtag movement is born on Twitter after Alyssa Milano encourages people to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse in order to illustrate the near universality of the problem. #MeToo quickly becomes an international phenomenon, with women different countries translating the hashtag or creating their own. In France, “#BalanceTonPorc”, meaning “rat out your pig,” goes viral; in the Arab world, “#Ana_kaman,” translating to “me too,” is used millions of times.
October 19, 2017: Repercussions of the #MeToo movement begin to affect many industries. On October 19, Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s editorial director, is fired for sexual harassment. Within this week alone, sexual misconduct allegations are raised against restaurateur John Besh, director James Toback, fashion photographer Terry Richardson, Artforum publisher Knight Landesman, and journalist Mark Halperin. The list continues to grow: According to an in-depth infographic by Vox, over 200 celebrities, CEOs, and politicians have been accused of sexual misconduct.
October 29, 2017: Anthony Rapp tells BuzzFeed News that Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance at him when he was 14. In response to Rapp’s story about underage advances, Spacey announces he is gay, and claims he does not remember his encounter with Rapp. “But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey writes. In the ensuing days and months, many more men would come forward with allegations. As of July 2018, there are six open sexual assault cases against Spacey in the U.K. Spacey is currently in rehab for sex addiction.
November 8, 2017: A month before All the Money in the World is set to premiere, director Ridley Scott reshoots all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer, erasing Spacey (who played J.P. Getty) from the film. Plummer racks up a third Best Supporting Actor nomination as a result. It later emerges that Michelle Williams was paid for $1,000 for reshoots, while her co-star Mark Wahlberg walked away with $1.5 million, spurring another conversation about equal pay and gender parity.
November 9, 2017: Comedian Louis C.K. is accused by five women of sexual misconduct. The next day, C.K. confirms the reports. The movie I Love You, Daddy, which C.K. directed, was scheduled to premiere on November 17, but instead is dropped by the distribution company. C.K. buys the film's rights back.
December 4, 2017: President Donald Trump enthusiastically endorses Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct, on Twitter.
December 6, 2017: Time Magazine names "the Silence Breakers," the men and women who spoke about their experiences with sexual misconduct, as Person of the Year.
December 13, 2017: Roy Moore is defeated by democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama special election. The #MeToo movement was credited for giving women a safe space to come forward and influence the election. This is the first time an Alabama Democrat won a seat in the Senate in 25 years.
December 19, 2017: Women factory workers at Ford go on the record about rampant sexual harassment at two Chicago plants in a New York Times exposé.
January 1, 2018: Time's Up, an initiative spearheaded by 300 women working film, TV, and theater, is announced with an open letter in the New York Times and in the Spanish language newspaper La Opinion. The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund is aimed at supporting the sexual assault and harassment cases of less-privileged individuals.
January 7, 2018: The #MeToo and Time's Up movements are present at the Golden Globe awards. Actors and actresses participate in a red carpet "blackout" by wearing black gowns and Time's Up pins. The event’s proceedings are heavily colored by the atmosphere in Hollywood. While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, Oprah Winfrey praises the women who came forward with their stories. "For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up," Winfrey said. Awards go to works that depict strong women, like Big Little Lies and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
January 10, 2018: Writer Moira Donegan comes forward as the creator of the Shitty Media Men list, an anonymous Google spreadsheet dating back to October that allowed people to collate rumors and incidents of sexual misconduct regarding men in media, after Donegan learns Harper’s Magazine planned to dox her identity in an article. About 70 men were accused in total. The Harper’s article runs in the March 2018 issue, and indeed names Donegan as the list’s creator.
January 11, 2018: Five women accuse James Franco of inappropriate behavior in an article in the L.A. Times. The first allegation comes days before on the evening of the Golden Globes, when actress Violet Paley tweets her experiences with Franco. James Franco responds to allegations on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “I don’t want to shut them down in any way. I think it’s a good thing and I support it,” Franco says. Franco wins a Golden Globe for his role in The Disaster Artist, but is ignored by the Academy Awards.
January 14, 2018: In an article on Babe.net, a photographer who went by the alias “Grace” recalls a murky sexual experience with comedian Aziz Ansari, spurring a conversation about the role of consent in typical, quotidien sexual encounters. The next day, Ansari responds that he took Way’s “words to heart” and that he “continues to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
February 3, 2018: In a New York Times article, Uma Thurman recalls the time Harvey Weinstein allegedly forced himself on her in a London hotel room. Thurman also recounts a harrowing near-death experience on the set of Kill Bill, claiming that director Quentin Tarantino coerced her to do a dangerous stunt. In an interview with Deadline, Tarantino called the crash “one of the biggest regrets” of his life.
March 4, 2018: The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements come to the Oscars. During a dedicated segment, Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd, and Salma Hayek, three of Weinstein’s many accusers, spoke of the movements and the changes they hope to see take place in Hollywood and beyond. “We salute those unstoppable spirits who kicked ass and broke through the bias perception against their gender, race, and ethnicity to tell their stories,”Hayek says. After winning Best Actress for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand ends the Oscars with an incendiary call-to-arms masquerading as an acceptance speech. “Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight; invite us into your office in a couple days — or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best — and we’ll tell you all about them,” McDormand says. She also introduces the world to inclusion riders.
April 16, 2018: Jodi Cantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker win the Pulitzer Prize for public service.
April 29, 2018: At the Tribeca Film Festival, Time’s Up reports that 2,500 women have sought help from its Legal Defense Fund.
April 30, 2018: R. Kelly’s Chicago concert is cancelled. Other shows, including one in New York, are cancelled. Despite a July 2017 Buzzfeed article that exposed R. Kelly’s “sex cult,” Kelly’s career had remained relatively unaffected by allegations until 2018. The women’s movement allowed the #MuteRKelly movement, started by Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, to gain traction. “We're calling for a complete and total mute. We don't want to hear him on the radio. We do not want him on streaming services. We do not want him booked at concerts. We want the collective society to erase him from our consciousness. So that he can no longer be insulated from the consequences of his crime,” explained movement founder Odeleye to NPR. On May 10, the music streaming service Spotify removes Kelly from its playlist and algorithmic recommendations as part of its Hate and Hateful Conduct policy, but reverses the policy in June.
May 4, 2018: Writer Zinzi Clemmons claims that writer Junot Díaz forcibly kissed her at a workshop. Other women writers follow suit, accusing Díaz of verbal assault and misogyny. The month prior, Díaz had come forward with his own experiences of childhood sexual assault in a New Yorker essay. Díaz denies the allegations.
May 25, 2018: Harvey Weinstein turns himself into New York authorities to face rape charges related to an accusation by Lucia Evans.
June 25, 2018: A study by New York-based crisis consulting firm Temin & Co demonstrates the breadth of the #MeToo movement’s impact. The study finds at least 417 high-profile executives and employees were outed by the movement over the course of the past 18 months. The accusations spiked after the Weinstein exposé. The statistics were telling: All but seven of the 417 were men, and only 8 were in a consensual relationships with their accusers. The report says 193 have resigned or been fired, 122 suspended, and 69 haven’t been impacted.
July 26, 2018: An article in The Atlantic determines that claims of sexual misconduct have ended 25 political campaigns in 2018 across both Democratic and Republican party lines.
August 6, 2018: Ronan Farrow releases yet another bombshell piece in The New Yorker, this time detailing six allegations of sexual misconduct against CBS CEO Les Moonves. On September 9, Moonves stepped down as CEO. after six more women levelled allegations against him. Moonves claims he will donte $20 million to organizations that support #MeToo.
August 19, 2018: Asia Argento, one of the first women to come forward against Harvey Weinstein, is accused of sexually assaulting and then paying off her former co-star Jimmy Bennett. The altercation allegedly took place in 2013, when Argento was 37 and Bennett was 17. "Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn't change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender,” tweeted Tarana Burke of the incident.
August 28, 2018: Louis C.K. comes back to public life with his a surprise stand-up set at the Comedy Cellar. The audience had a mixed reaction — some applauded, others left the theater. The reaction on the internet was similarly muddled, with some comedians like Michael Che and Michael Ian Black commending his return and others, like Aparna Nancherla, expressing dismay. Following the controversy, the Cellar instituted the following disclaimer on tickets: “If an unannounced appearance is not your cup of tea, you are free to leave (unobtrusively please) no questions asked, your check on the house.”
Sept. 16, 2018: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is revealed as the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school in Bethesda, MD. Allegedly, Kavanaugh held Ford down on a bed, smothered her screams with his hand, and attempted to force himself on her. Ford was able to escape. Ford is the first of at least three women to come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, including Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
September 25, 2018: Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for sexual assault. Cosby’s is the first celebrity conviction since the #MeToo movement began. Comedian Hannibal Buress first mentioned Cosby’s alleged actions during a 2014 comedy set, prompting the public to reconsider the once-beloved comic’s treatment of women — and giving Cosby’s accusers space to come forward before the #MeToo movement.
September 27, 2018: The country is captivated watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testify before the Senate. More than 20 million people tune into the hearing. The Senate vote that will determine whether Kavanaugh will become a Supreme Court Justice is set to occur after the one-week FBI background investigation takes place.
September 28, 2018: Convicted sex offender and film director Roman Polanski announced his first film in the #MeToo era will be called J’Accuse, and will be about a soldier wrongly accused of spying.
October 2, 2018: Leading feminist thinker Rebecca Traister publishes the book Good and Mad, which speaks to the revolutionary power of women’s anger.
October 18, 2018: More than 400 women sue USC, claiming that campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall sexually assaulted them. The women allege that the university deliberately concealed abuse by the doctor for a period spanning decades (he previously denied any wrongdoing). In an internal investigation, the university concludes that his examinations constituted sexual assault. Tyndall was fired in 2017, per CNN, and surrenders his medical license in 2019. He pleads not guilty to the allegations.
October 22, 2018: Uber's head of corporate development, Cameron Poetzscher, resigns after a Wall Street Journal report unearths sexual misconduct allegations against him. Poetzscher was disciplined by the company the year prior for a pattern of making inappropriate sexual remarks in the workplace and engaging in an affair with a coworker that, while consensual, violated company policies. In a statement, he agrees that the company was right to discipline him.
October 25, 2018: Reports reveal that Google reportedly paid Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a $90 million exit package in 2014 despite a credible allegation of sexual misconduct by an employee, plus an additional $2 million per month for four years. Rubin tweets that the allegations a “smear campaign”; two other senior employees, Amit Singhal and Richard DeVaul, also face accusations. Singhal denies “engaging in any such behavior,” per Vanity Fair. DeVaul apologizes for an “error in judgment” in a statement to The New York Times. Still, Singhal receives a payout, and DeVaul is allowed to stay at the company. DeVaul resigns within a week. In response, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sends an email to the entire company admitting that they have a sexual misconduct problem and that 48 employees were terminated for misconduct in the last two years, 13 of whom were senior managers and above.
November 1, 2018: Google employees stage a worldwide walkout to protest the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against senior employees.
November 12, 2108: Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and eBay announce they are ending forced arbitration in sexual harassment claims. The change in policy paves the way to allow women employees to pursue legal action in court and no longer be subject to the NDAs that are often included in arbitration settlements, and which enable men to hide their past misconduct.
November 28, 2018: Following accusations the previous May, five more women speak out against director Luc Besson, accusing him of behavior ranging from sexual harassment to rape. He denies all of the claims. The total number of women accusing Besson of misconduct is nine.
November 28, 2018: Allegations about how CBS head Les Moonves tried to silence an accuser, Bobbie Phillips, following an incident in 1995, surface. Moonves says he believed the encounter was consensual. An internal investigation establishes that Moonves participated at least one cover-up in an attempt to collect his $120 million severance payout from the company.
December 2, 2018: Neil deGrasse Tyson is accused of sexual misconduct, which he denies. Fox and NatGeo take his shows off the air. Along with the American Museum of Natural History, the networks conduct investigations into the claim, and all find that he should remain employed.
December 12, 2018: Congress passes legislation requiring members to pay out of their own money to settle sexual misconduct court judgments and settlements. The changes, which pass by an overwhelming majority, also remove obstacles for accusers including forced mediation, a mandatory cooling-off period, and extending protections to Capitol interns and fellows previously omitted from coverage.
December 17, 2018: CBS denies Les Moonves a $120 million severance package after the company’s internal investigation into assault claims against him is finalized. The company’s report finds that Moonves obstructed their investigation, destroyed evidence, and misled investigators. Through his lawyer, Moonves denies “having any nonconsensual sexual relations” and says he “cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
December 17, 2018: Orange Is the New Black star Yael Stone alleges that Geoffrey Rush sexually harassed her when the two worked on the play The Diary of a Madman in 2010 and 2011. Stone tells The New York Times she was afraid to speak out in her native Australia, where defamation and libel laws put the burden of proof onto the person or entity who makes allegations — making it difficult for #MeToo stories to come out in the country. Rush denies her allegations. In April 2019, Rush wins a judgment against an Australian paper, the Telegraph, which printed the accusations of another woman who says Rush acted inappropriately towards her.
December 21, 2018: Five male models file a lawsuit in New York federal court alleging sexual assault and exploitation by photographer Bruce Weber. The lawsuit follows reports from the beginning of 2018 in which over a dozen models made accusations against Weber. Weber denies all the allegations.
December 24, 2018: Kevin Spacey is charged with felony indecent assault and battery by a district court in Massachusetts for allegedly assaulting an 18-year-old in 2016. The next day, Spacey releases a strange video of himself as Frank Underwood from the Netflix drama House of Cards, in which he seems to cast doubt on the allegations. On January 7, 2019, Spacey pleads not guilty in court. In July, prosecutors drop the case after the accuser refuses to testify about alleged deleted text messages which Spacey’s legal team say are material to the case.
January 2, 2019: Accounts of sexual harassment and reports of sexism from staffers who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign surface, ranging from inappropriate touching, to not treating reports of harassment seriously, to unequal pay for women. Sanders apologizes to any women staffers who feel they were treated unfairly or inappropriately.
January 3, 2019: The documentary Surviving R. Kelly begins a six-episode, three-night run on Lifetime. The reaction online is immediate, prompting new survivors and allegations to come forward and have a massive impact on public sentiment around the singer. Artists who worked with Kelly denounce his actions. RCA Records finally drops Kelly after years of protests. In response, Kelly threatened to create a website detailing the “lies” of his accusers. He maintains his innocence of all accusations and charges.
January 3, 2019: Coachella launches a program called Every One that, among other things, aims to stop sexual harassment and assault at the festival. The results leave something to be desired, with many women unaware that the campaign — or new resources to report sexual misconduct on-site — exist.
January 8, 2019: The New York Police Department closes three investigations of sexual misconduct against celebrity chef Mario Batali due to a lack of evidence. Two cases are beyond the state’s statute of limitations, which was not made retroactive after it was lifted in 2006. Prosecutors are unable to find enough evidence in the third case, an allegation of rape, to bring charges. Batali previously denied having nonconsensual sex and apologized for his behavior when he was initially accused of groping by four women. The sum total of allegations against Batali, however, is enough to prompt his business partners to buy him out of their hospitality group by March and for Eataly to purchase the minority stake he owned in the company by August.
January 17, 2019: A review by an independent commission finds that Oxfam, a coalition of charities fighting poverty, did not properly address complaints of sexual misconduct and a toxic workplace environment. Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, says in a statement, “It is painfully clear that Oxfam is not immune from sexual and other forms of abuse that stem from the abuse of power. To those who have experienced such unacceptable behaviour: we are sorry, I am sorry, and we will follow up on any cases passed to us by the commission as a matter of urgency.”
January 28, 2019: Leticia Vallejo files a lawsuit against the Marriott hotel chain after allegedly being sexually assaulted by a guest. The housekeeper claims she was put into unsafe working positions, such as being asked to clean the men's restroom without being given a way to keep people out. She also alleges that when she reported the incident to her supervisors, they laughed and dismissed her. The suit follows a toughening up of regulations for unionized Marriott employees — the hotel at which Vallejo worked is not unionized. Arne Sorenson, chief executive of Marriott International, says the chain is focused on “deterring and combating harassment of any kind.”
January 30, 2019: Opera singer David Daniels and his husband, William Walters, are arrested on charges stemming from a 2010 accusation that they drugged and assaulted a singer. Both men deny the allegations. The arrest makes Daniels the most high-profile person in the world of classical music, at the time, to face accusations as a result of the #MeToo movement. A grand jury indicts Daniels and his husband in Harris County District Court on July 25. Multiple additional sexual allegations against Daniels surfaced from students at the University of Michigan were reported by NPR, who obtained a March memo from the school detailing what they characterize as "a pattern of behavior that is harassing, abusive and exploitative” to students. The university shares their documentation with Daniels along with formal notification they intend to dismiss him in April. Daniels declines to comment on the report to NPR, other than asserting he will address the allegations in the University’s review process.
February 5, 2019: In conversation with a reporter, Pope Francis acknowledges for the first time the sexual abuse of some nuns by priests, including the use of nuns as sex slaves. The admission follows a 2018 report by the Associated Press investigating the problem of abuse of nuns that spans decades and continents.
February 5, 2019: Alexandra Arce von Herold files a criminal complaint of sexual assault against former Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Óscar Arias. Five additional women come forward days later, claiming they were groped, sexually assaulted, grabbed, and sexually harassed by Arias. Arias denies the allegations leveled by Herold through a lawyer, but declines to comment on the additional allegations.
February 10, 2019: An investigation finds that since 1998, about 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, with 250 employees and volunteers in the last decade charged with sex crimes. More than 700 survivors are reckoning with the effects of that abuse. In June, the Southern Baptist Convention approves a resolution that allows them to expel churches that “act in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse” and establishes a committee to review allegations of sexual abuse.
February 13, 2019: Musician Ryan Adams is accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, for behavior ranging from emotional abuse to manipulation to graphic texting with an underage fan and aspiring musician. Adams denies the allegations. In the following months, his tour is canceled, as is the release of his album Big Colors.
February 21, 2019: Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations against her son, Garry “Dijon” Bowden Jr. Bowden denies the allegations. In a statement, Time’s Up says the decision to step down was made by Borders and that the organization agreed.
February 22, 2019: R. Kelly is charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse by the Cook County state’s attorney in Chicago. Three of the alleged survivors were underage. Kelly pleads not guilty.
February 25, 2019: Ex-Trump 2016 campaign staffer Alva Johnson files a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump in which she claims he kissed her without her consent. She is the first of Trump’s accusers to allege inappropriate conduct during his presidential campaign. The White House, through then-press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, calls the allegation “absurd on its face” and says it never happened.
February 26, 2019: Wynn Resorts faces a $20 million fine from Nevada gaming regulators and an additional fine in April of $35 million by gambling regulators in Massachusetts for failing to investigate claims of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn before he resigned in February 2018. A report found that the company’s leadership hid allegations against Wynn, ignored company policy, failed to investigate, and did not report the allegations to the company’s board. Through a lawyer, Wynn denies any allegations of nonconsensual sex. The company does not contest the fines levied against it by either state.
March 7, 2019: In a surprising interview with Gayle King for CBS This Morning, R. Kelly dramatically denies all the sexual abuse allegations against him.
March 19, 2019: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand admits there was “human error” after her office’s investigation of sexual misconduct claims against a staffer in her congressional office. Anne Bradley, Gillibrand’s deputy chief of staff who handled the claim, resigns from her position.
March 29, 2019: Following the publication of Lucy Flores’s essay “An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden” on The Cut, in which she details how the former vice president’s unwanted touching made her uncomfortable, six more women come forward to say they felt the same. Three women speak to The Washington Post, two to The New York Times, and one to The Hartford Courant. Biden apologizes in a video online, promising to respect personal space. He also says he is not sorry “in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.”
March 21, 2019: Six women accuse Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire and active philanthropist, of propositioning them or making sexual requests when they request donations to various charities and nonprofits. Steinhardt apologizes for his “boorish, disrespectful” comments, but insists they were “meant in jest.”
April 24, 2019: More than 200 former Boy Scouts reveal new sexual abuse claims, exposing 150 alleged pedophiles. In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America say, "Any incident of child abuse is one too many, and nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs."
May 2, 2019: Sexual assault claims in the U.S. military surge, an annual report by the Defense Department reveals. The report finds a 38% increase in unwanted sexual contact from 2016. One out of every 16 military women reported being groped, raped, or otherwise sexually assaulted within the last year. Patrick M. Shanahan, the acting secretary of defense, tells senior military officials that these numbers were “unacceptable” and not up to the standards expected. Shanahan proposes better tracking of officers and training programs, as well as a new program to identify repeat offenders.
May 19, 2019: After an exposé that reveals life coach Tony Robbins berated abuse survivors and allegations that he made sexual advances on followers, four women come forward to accuse Robbins of sexual misconduct. The women allege Robbins groped them, exposed himself, or made unwanted advances. In the month after these reports emerge, 10 women in total come forward to say Robbins also harassed or abused them. He denies all of the claims. Robbins’ book deal is canceled in the wake of the allegations.
May 22, 2019: Mario Batali faces criminal charges relating to a sexual assault allegation in a Boston restaurant in 2017. Batali pleads not guilty.
May 28, 2019: The Chi’s season 2 showrunner, Ayanna Floyd Davis, speaks out about why actor Jason Mitchell was dropped from the show. She says “everyone was well aware” of the issues he had with two actresses on the show, and that she reported him to human resources. She directly challenges the claims of the show’s creator, Lena Waithe, that Waithe was unaware of the issues. Michell was previously removed from his role in the Netflix movie Desperados, and his MTV Movie & TV Awards nominations are stripped once the misconduct claims become public. He is also dropped by his management and agency over the allegations. In August, Mitchell posts an Instagram addressing the situation, saying, “don’t believe what you read in the media.”
May 30, 2019: R. Kelly is charged in Cook County with 11 new counts for incidents that took place between 2009 and 2011. The charges include aggravated criminal sexual assault against a minor, which can carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. The charges follow intensified investigations from Chicago and Atlanta prosecutors since Surviving R. Kelly aired. Kelly, again, pleads not guilty.
June 18, 2019: Screenwriter Max Landis is accused of sexual misconduct by eight women, with allegations including manipulation, body-shaming, sexual abuse, and rape. He has yet to respond to the allegations.
June 21, 2019: In a published excerpt from her book, Hideous Men, columnist E. Jean Carroll accuses President Donald Trump of raping her. Trump denies her allegations and meeting her. The latter claim is proven untrue by a photo included with the excerpt, which shows Trump, Carroll, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana, and Carroll’s ex-husband, John Johnson, talking at a party in 1987.
July 7, 2019: Billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein is arrested and charged with sex trafficking in New York and Florida. He is accused of sexually exploiting dozens of underage girls by paying them for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side and Palm Beach homes. Reid Weingarten, Epstein’s lawyer, says the charges are a do-over of the 2008 case that his client considered an already settled matter. In that case, Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from girls as young as 14 and was registered as a sex offender. He was given an 18-month jail term and a year under house arrest.
July 9, 2019: Aziz Ansari returns in a Netflix special and addresses the sexual misconduct allegations against him levied in a 2018 Babe.net article. He does not apologize, but says in the past year he hopes he has become “a better person” and that “it was a step forward.” Ansari says, “If that has made not just me, but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing."
July 11, 2019: Air Force Gen. John Hyten, who is tapped to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is accused of sexual misconduct by a military official who was formerly one of his aides. He is accused of sexual assault starting in 2017 and attempting to derail her career after she declined his advances. An Air Force investigation of her accusations finds insufficient evidence to charge or punish the general. His confirmation hearing to become the second most important person in the U.S. military proceeds later in July, despite questions from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth that indicate Hyten may have received special treatment due to his rank. During the hearing, Hyten says he was falsely accused and that “nothing happened, ever.” He is confirmed in September, by a 75-22 vote.
July 27, 2019: SAG finds actor Kip Pardue guilty of serious sexual misconduct, following public allegations by actress Sarah Scott. Pardue is censured and fined $6,000, with the option to take sexual harassment training and half the fee. Pardue, through his legal team, maintains that he did not engage in any nonconsensual behavior.
August 1, 2019: Warner Bros. Television concludes an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual assault against Extra host A.J. Calloway. The studio severs ties with the host, calling the decision mutual. Calloway continues to deny any wrongdoing.
August 5, 2019: U.S. Olympic team equestrian trainer George Morris is barred for life from the U.S. Equestrian Federation after the conclusion of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor. Morris emails clients to say he will appeal the decision and that he is “deeply troubled” by the findings which he “contest[s] wholeheartedly.”
August 6, 2019: The Model Alliance sends an open letter to Victoria’s Secret, signed by more than 100 models and Time’s Up, asking the brand to address a sexual misconduct problem in the company. The letter was prompted by allegations of sexual misconduct against photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, who worked for the brand in various capacities, and VS parent company L Brands COO Les Wexner’s previous links to sex trafficker and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Bellemere and Kadel denied any wrongdoing while Emek has not responded to the allegations against him. Wexner claims Epstein took advantage of him, calling Epstein’s crimes “abhorrent” and condemning them on behalf of L Brands at an investor day presentation. Wexner says he severed ties with Epstein in 2007. L Brands hires outside counsel in July to investigate Epstein’s ties to the brand.
August 7, 2019: Former Michigan State University Dean William Strampel is sentenced to a year in jail for criminal conduct in office and neglect of duty. Strampel was accused of not supervising disgraced U.S. Olympics team doctor Larry Nassar while the latter was under investigation for sexual misconduct. Strampel is acquitted of a charge of criminal sexual misconduct — women students accused him of using his power to proposition, grope, and harass them.
August 9, 2019: Figure skater Adam Schmidt files a lawsuit accusing coach Richard Callaghan of molesting him for two years, and the U.S. Figure Skating governing body of allowing the coach unrestricted access to minors despite knowing about Schmidt’s accusation. Before the end of August, Callaghan is banned for life from the organization due to this and other allegations. Callaghan's attorney, Dean Groulx, calls the investigation a “witch hunt” and says the allegations are false.
August 10, 2019: Jeffrey Epstein dies by suicide in prison while awaiting trial in New York on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. In a statement, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York says their investigation remains ongoing. The criminal case against Epstein is dismissed at the end of August. Attorney General William Barr says "this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein."
August 13, 2019: Nine women tell the Associated Press that opera singer Plácido Domingo sexually harassed and assaulted them. Domingo denies the allegations, but less than a month later, 11 more women come forward to accuse him of similar behavior. By the end of September, Domingo withdraws from all future performances at the Metropolitan Opera.
August 13, 2019: Katy Perry is accused of sexual misconduct by her “Teenage Dream” music video co-star, Josh Kloss. He says the singer exposed his genitals in public at a birthday party, making him uncomfortable. Perry has yet to publicly comment on the allegations.
September 14, 2019: A book excerpt published by the New York Times revealed new details Deborah Ramirez's allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, along with a new account that the justice was seen sexually assaulting an unknown person at a party during his time at Yale. The report inspires calls for Kavanaugh to be impeached and removed from the court. Kavanaugh previously denied Ramirez’s claims and declines to answer questions about the new account. President Donald Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh to the court, tweets that the justice should “start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.”
September 21, 2019:Antonio Brown is released by the New England Patriots after a second woman accuses him of sexual misconduct. Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, alleges in a lawsuit that he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions and forcibly raped her in 2018. Nike also cuts ties with Brown in the wake of the allegations. Brown denies the accusations.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).