On Jan. 1, 2018, more than 300 women in Hollywood founded “Time’s Up,” a global effort to hold sexual abusers accountable. In the year since then, the group ― which includes some of the industry’s most powerful celebrities ― has raised over $20 million and helped thousands of people seek legal recourse.
Though activist Tarana Burke first used “Me Too” in 2006 as a way to draw attention to the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment, 2018 supercharged the movement. For many survivors, 2018 was the year their abusers faced consequences: Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison, Harvey Weinstein was hit with sex crime charges, and “House of Cards” premiered without Kevin Spacey.
But justice was not unconditional, and many men accused of predatory behaviour did just fine in 2018. Below is a list of men who continued to thrive despite allegations of misconduct. It is far from exhaustive; it also doesn’t touch on the fact that many accused abusers have been shielded by wealth and generations of white male privilege. Louis C.K. is attempting a comedy comeback and Matt Lauer’s friends have whined to tabloids about how he now has too much free time on his hands.
In May, CNN released an extensive investigation into the 81-year-old Oscar-winning actor, in which eight women accused Freeman of sexual misconduct, including unwanted touching and pervasive comments about their bodies, and eight other people said that they witnessed such behavior.
Among them was CNN reporter Chloe Melas, the only named woman in the story. In 2017, Melas, then six months pregnant, interviewed the actor ahead of the release of a film. Freeman made inappropriate comments about her body and pregnancy, one of which was captured on tape.
In response to the investigation, which also included claims of a toxic workplace culture, the actor issued an apology that essentially amounted to “I’m sorry if you were offended.” His lawyers later demanded that CNN retract its story.
Visa and Vancouver’s transit system both announced that they would no longer use Freeman, known for his voice-over work, as a narrator for their ads. The Screen Actors Guild, which awarded Freeman a lifetime achievement honor in January, announced that it would re-evaluate the prize. But in September, the union said that he could keep the award.
According to Freeman’s IMDb page, he has several movie projects in the works for 2019.
Last fall, the E! and ABC host’s former stylist Suzie Hardy alleged that Seacrest sexually harassed and assaulted her for years, including “grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later,” according to Variety. After reporting the allegations to E!’s human resources department in 2013, Hardy was told that she would be terminated.
When the allegations became public earlier this year, Seacrest vehemently denied Hardy’s account, accusing her of making “reckless allegations.” An E! investigation found “insufficient evidence to support the claims.”
He continued his various hosting duties, from “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” to “American Idol,” to E!’s Oscars red carpet special on Mar. 4 — prompting this photo caption from The Onion: “Perverted Creep Keeps Asking Women What They’re Wearing.”
As HuffPost’s Leigh Blickley wrote in March, Seacrest largely evaded consequences because in the entertainment industry, he’s an institution, “part of the machine that runs Hollywood. He’s a boss himself, a power player in the ranks, a bigger success than most at the Oscars and a friend of many a celebrity.”
The Me Too reckoning drew decades-old sexual assault allegations against Sylvester Stallone back into the spotlight in 2017 and 2018, but the claims seem to have had little effect on his movie career.
The “Rocky” actor starred in three movies this year, including box office smash “Creed II,” and has signed on to appear in at least five more films slated for release in 2019 and after.
At least four women have accused Stallone of sexually assaulting them between the early 1980s and 2000. A 16-year-old girl told police in 1986 that Stallone, then 40, and his bodyguard raped her in his hotel room. She declined to press charges.
Toni-Ann Filiti, Stallone’s now deceased half-sister, accused Stallone of repeatedly sexually abusing her in the 1980s. Stallone reached a confidential settlement with Filiti in 1987.
Stallone has vehemently denied the allegations.
Schwarzenegger has enjoyed a rich career in entertainment and politics ― all while managing to sidestep multiple allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from the 1970s through 2000.
Days before Schwarzenegger was elected California governor in October 2003, The Los Angeles Times reported allegations from six women who accused the Hollywood star of touching them in a sexual manner without their consent. Three women say he grabbed their breasts and another woman said he tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator.
Schwarzenegger’s campaign denied the allegations at the time. Asked about his past treatment of women in an October interview with Men’s Health magazine, Schwarzenegger admitted he “stepped over the line several times.”
“I feel bad about it, and I apologize,” he said.
Schwarzenegger will star in at least two movies set for release in 2019, including the latest installment of the “Terminator” series.
Backstreet Boys frontman Nick Carter’s career fared remarkably well this year, despite being at the center of sexual assault allegations brought by a former ’90s pop star last November.
Melissa Schuman, a former member of Dream, has said Carter performed oral sex on her without her consent at a party in 2002 and then proceeded to rape her. Another woman told police in 2006 that he sexually assaulted her at a house party.
Carter has denied the allegations. Bandmate Brian Littrell bashed Carter’s accusers in August, claiming they were simply “fame seekers.”
Months after Schuman came forward, Backstreet Boys dropped “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” their highest-charting single since 2005. They are set to release their ninth studio album, “DNA,” in January before embarking on a world tour.
Ronaldo was the third-ever athlete to sign a “lifetime” sponsorship deal with Nike, rumored to be worth as much as $1 billion. But the soccer star faced renewed allegations of rape in the fall when onetime model Kathryn Mayorga said publicly for the first time that Ronaldo raped her in 2009 and then paid her more than $350,000 to keep quiet. Her lawyers are now seeking to nullify the 2010 nondisclosure agreement she signed over the alleged incident.
Mayorga met Ronaldo at a Las Vegas nightclub and accompanied him to his hotel room at the Palms Casino Resort. She says Ronaldo assaulted her even though she had shouted “no” repeatedly, and she filed a police report. He says the encounter was consensual, once dismissing Mayorga’s claim as “fake news.” Las Vegas police reopened the case this year after Mayorga filed her civil suit.
While Nike has said the company is “deeply concerned” over the accusations, the retail giant has so far taken no public action. Ronaldo is still playing for Juventus, the Italian soccer team he joined over the summer that has staunchly supported him.
Roman Polanski is a convicted child rapist. In 1977, he pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl and served 42 days in prison as part of a plea deal. When he received word that a judge was planning to revoke the deal, he fled to Paris. While the U.S. has made multiple attempts to extradite him, the director has since remained a fugitive in France.
Polanski’s prior conviction did not stop the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from awarding him with an Oscar for his 2002 movie “The Pianist.” In May, propelled by the Me Too movement, the academy expelled Polanski ― but the director kept his Oscar.
Apparently unaffected by the movement against sexual abuse, which Polanski called a “mass hysteria that occurs in society from time to time,” he’s still making movies. His upcoming film, “J’Accuse,” about a man wrongly accused of espionage, reportedly began shooting in the fall.
R. Kelly has been accused dozens of times of sexual misconduct over more than two decades ― including incidentsinvolving minors. In 1994, Kelly allegedly married R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges after a video showed him allegedly having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. The artist has also agreed to multiple out-of-court settlements with women who accused him of sexual assault, including one who said Kelly had sex with her when she was 15.
Last year Rolling Stone reported that radio DJ Kitti Jones, Kelly’s ex-girlfriend, said he abused, sexually assaulted and starved her over their two-year relationship. And a BuzzFeed report accused the singer of holding young women against their will in an abusive sex “cult.”
Since the Me Too movement kicked off last year, and the related Time’s Up initiative called for people to #MuteRKelly, the artist has had some shows canceled. Spotify also stopped promoting his music in playlists and other tools (though the artist’s songs are still available on the platform). And in January, Lifetime plans to release a three-part documentary series detailing the decades of sexual abuse allegations against the singer.
Remember the time the then-35-year-old actor was caught flirting with a 17-year-old fan on Instagram? That was in 2014. And remember when actress Busy Philipps told Bravo host Andy Cohen in 2016 about the time Franco threw her to the ground on the set of “Freaks and Geeks” in the late ’90s?
So when, earlier this year, actress Violet Paley tweeted that Franco once attempted to force her to perform oral sex and actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan said Franco had the “exploitative” practice of encouraging women to perform fully nude and five other women spoke out in an explosive Los Angeles Times article accusing him of sexual misconduct, was it really all that surprising?
Despite all this, the actor has at least three films coming out next year, according to IMDb. He also received widespread accolades for directing and starring in “The Disaster Artist.” Just two weeks after the LA Times story broke, he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University, alleged Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, pushed her into a bedroom and sexually assaulted her during a party when they were high schoolers in Maryland. Deborah Ramirez, who studied with Kavanaugh at Yale University, accused him of exposing his genitals to her at a party. Julie Swetnick claimed she saw Kavanaugh participate in sexual misconduct at numerous house parties when they were both in high school.
Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations. The judge lashed out at his accusers, Democrats and the media in an aggressive and emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of his confirmation. The display prompted 83 ethics complaints, all of which have been dropped. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, and he’s back to coaching youth basketball.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ford continues to receive death threats for accusing Kavanaugh.
More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct and he was famously caught on tape bragging about groping women.
He was elected president.
—Alana Horowitz Satlin