Economic harassment of men

The sexual harassment of women is well known mostly because the mainstream media have made it well known. Far less well known is the economic harassment of men. That’s because the mainstream media have not recognized it — may not want to recognize it — as a broad, systemic problem worthy of attention. Generally the media label the economic harassment of men as incidents of “extortion” and “blackmail” only when well-known “news-worthy” men are targets. Nevertheless, the economic harassment of men does happen, and often: 

A North Sacramento woman who tried to blackmail eight men into paying her so she wouldn’t report that they raped her — an allegation she made up — pleaded no-contest to multiple counts of extortion, filing false police reports and sending threatening letters, prosecutors announced Monday. The Sacramento Bee, April 22, 2003

A woman accused of inventing a baby to fleece her ex-boyfriend of thousands of dollars in child support has faced a Sydney court. -The Australian, September 12, 2002

Pittsburgh Steelers player Jerome Bettis will not face criminal charges for a sexual encounter with a Westmoreland County woman last summer, and instead his accuser and her uncle are under investigation for trying to extort money from him. – “Accuser, uncle being probed,” by Rich Cholodofsky, TRIBUNE-REVIEW, October 16, 2002

A woman who accused Canadian diva Celine Dion’s husband of rape is being prosecuted for allegedly trying to extort $US13.5 million ($A22 million) from him, court officials said today. TheAustralian.news.com.au/, “Angelil rape accuser prosecuted,” March 8, 2003

A real estate agent who accused dancer Michael Flatley of raping her has withdrawn the allegation after a judge threatened to dismiss her case. The judge at a court in Chicago told the woman’s lawyer yesterday that he could either withdraw the charge voluntarily or see the case dismissed in open court. The alleged rape victim had filed a civil suit for $35m last March accusing Mr Flatley of rape. The dancer’s lawyer said that months before filing the suit, the woman had threatened to make the claim unless Mr Flatley paid her several million dollars. -Irish Examiner Breaking News, “Flatley rape allegation withdrawn,” September 18, 2003

For more than 18 months Debra Anne Dalton carried out an elaborate deception, collecting child support payments for a baby which never existed. She conned her former partner, Matthew Wojtowicz into paying more than $23,000 in child support, medical bills, nappies and clothes. She even produced a fake birth certificate and doctors’ letters to prove little Reese James Wojtowicz existed. The Australian, “‘Fake’ baby used to extort dad,” by Lisa Miller, January 31, 2003

“My wife gave me a condition of paying before making love to her,” a 49-year-old man told a Lusaka local court. This was a matter in which Loveless Palekani Nkonde, 46, of Kalingalinga compound sued her husband Shadreck Nkonde, 49, of the same area for divorce. Shadreck said after being laid off by his employers in 1992 he used the benefits to buy a plot for a house and started selling salaula (second-hand clothes). He said they were living well when his business was booming, but problems started in 1999 when he started facing serious financial difficulties which worsened after his wife’s employment was later terminated 2000. “My wife had some money immediately [after?] she stopped work, but I had finished mine by then. She then started demanding for money from me whenever I wanted to make love to her in our bedroom,” Shadreck said. “She said she cannot sleep with me because I am not doing anything.” He expressed shock at the conduct of his wife who even chased him from the bedroom. Shadreck said he later went to his cousin in Maamba where he was promised some money so that he could resume sleeping with his wife, since money was the condition of love. -“Wife Demands Payment From Husband,” The Post (Lusaka), October 9, 2002

Karla Knafel, a former lounge singer and fledgling actress, claims that basketball star Michael Jordan promised to give her $5 million when he retired to keep her from blabbing about an adulterous relationship they had a decade ago. Word of this money grab first surfaced last month, when Jordan, who is one of the world’s richest athletes, asked a Chicago court to block Knafel’s “extortion demands.” Last week, Knafel launched a counterattack. She filed a lawsuit in which she contends that Jordan voluntarily offered to buy her silence because he believed that she was pregnant with his child. Either way, she shouldn’t get another cent. If, as Jordan claims, Knafel is trying to extort millions of dollars from him, she should be dealt with in the same way that prosecutors in New York handled Autumn Jackson, the woman who claimed to be Bill Cosby’s out-of-wedlock daughter. Sexual blackmail is illegal regardless of how titillating the circumstances. Back in 1997, Jackson threatened to expose the adulterous affair the comedian had had with her mother if he didn’t give her $40 million. Cosby admitted having an affair with the 22-year-old woman’s mother more than two decades earlier but denied that he was Jackson’s father. Instead of giving in to Jackson’s demands, Cosby reported her shakedown attempt to the FBI. She was convicted of extortion and given a 26-month jail sentence. Her conviction was later overturned in 1999 on a technicality. After the trial Cosby consented to a paternity test, but both Jackson and her mother refused to give blood samples. In her lawsuit, Knafel said she became pregnant in 1990 while she was intimately involved with Jordan. At the time, she mistakenly believed the NBA superstar was the child’s father — a contention she no longer makes. Jordan, according to his court papers, paid Knafel $250,000 to keep their affair secret. Now Knafel wants a lot more money. But if what she says is true, Knafel’s claim of a verbal contract with Jordan may bring her more grief than legal relief. “The court can’t play a role in condoning what is known to be an illegal act,” said Charles Ogletree, the associate dean of Harvard Law School. In her lawsuit, Knafel said she had sex with Jordan on two occasions after he was married, first in Chicago and later in Phoenix. At the time, adultery was a criminal offense in both states. Knafel wants a court of law to force Jordan to honor the deal she says she struck with Jordan to hide what in essence was a crime. That would be an outrageous injustice. Knafel’s story has a hollow ring. Jordan announced the first of his two retirements from professional basketball in 1993. He returned to the game in 1995 and then retired again in 1999. Jordan ended his second retirement in 2001. But it wasn’t until last week, more than a year after he joined the Washington Wizards as a player, that Knafel asked a court to enforce the verbal contract. She acted now, Knafel said in her lawsuit, because Jordan denied the existence of their deal in the court papers he filed last month. As a result, she says, Jordan has “anticipatorily breached” their agreement. Jordan, of course, is not without blame in this mess. He admits he had a “relationship” with Knafel and was concerned enough about the harm it would do to his public image that he gave her a quarter million dollars in hush money. By making that initial payment, Jordan encouraged his paramour to think she could get away with sexual blackmail. -“Jordan’s former girlfriend shouldn’t get another cent ,” by DeWayne Wickham, USA Today, November 25, 2002

John’s girlfriend told him that he was the father of her daughter and John decided to “stand up and be a man and take responsibility.” Legal paternity was established and a judge ordered the payment of child support. Years and $26,000 in child support payments later, long after the relationship ended, he heard rumors that the child was not his. He decided to get a DNA test and it turned out that the rumors were true. “CSE Advocates: The Liar’s Club,” by Roger F. Gay, Men’s News Daily, September 18, 2002

A woman who became a serial bride of sorts, saying “I do” over and over and over again for money, now faces a prison stretch for lying about her multiple marriages. While filing her 27th marriage certificate, Dezerrie Cortes, 40, failed to mention her previous marriages — all to men from other countries willing to pay money and go through the motions of entering wedlock to secure legal status as U.S. residents. Cortes pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan Tuesday to one count of offering a false instrument for filing. She was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation. -“Serial bride headed for slammer,” January 10, 2004, CNN,

“A few days ago I received a notice of a lawsuit against me by Los Angeles County for support of a child I did not father. I have never met either the mother or the child. Apparently they are suing me based solely on my name which may be similar to that of the real father, or it may be a name the mother picked out of a phone book. Apparently this is a common practice by L.A. County. There needs to be more protection for individual rights, so that this could not be done. There are some real horror stories on the internet about cases like this. Also, if you don’t respond to their charge within 30 days they automatically levy a garnishment on your income for child support with no proof of your guilt. Not only do I not know the mother but I am a senior citizen. I am currently 62 years old. The child in question was born in 1998 when I was 58 years old. I have never had any children, and I was told long ago that I could not have children. For the County of Los Angeles to be suing me without any grounds is harassment and this type of activity should be prevented with additional laws. It is unconstitutuinal. It shows that they don’t investigate before these lawsuits, and they don’t care who they are suing so long as they collect more child support money.” -Bill R. Keathley, Fremont, California, an LA newspaper, Letter to the Editor, Case Study: Child Support Mayhem, September 19, 2002

An 18-year-old Singaporean woman has been jailed for two-and-a-half years in a cybersex scam in which she stimulated men who were then blackmailed, a report has said. Norhafizah Raziki “got intimate – short of sex” with the men, the Straits Times said. She met two men in an internet chatroom and agreed to meet them privately. A group of male friends later accused the victims of having sex with a minor and told them to pay up to 30,000 Singapore dollars ($31,000) “for the shame inflicted” on her family. Raziki’s lawyer argued she was not the mastermind of the operation and did not receive any money. But while Judge Malcolm Tan acknowledged that having to stimulate the men was “very denigrating” for the young woman, he added “the crux of the matter is she did this act with her eyes open.” Of six men also involved in the extortion, two were jailed for five years and given six strokes of the cane, one received a 30-month jail term and three have yet to appear in court. -The Australian, “Jailed for ‘cybersex blackmail’,” September 29, 2002

A Kenyan woman has failed to persuade a court that she should be compensated for having sex with a man who later left her. A magistrate told her that she did not deserve any compensation because she had not “worked hard enough” to get pregnant. Mary Wambui Gichuki went to court to make Stanley Mathenge pay her for the sexual favours she provided during the three years they stayed together, reports the Daily Nation. She complained that she had only provided the favours because he had promised to marry her but he later left her for another woman. [Many feminists assail men for expecting sex after spending money on a woman. Odd, though, that they are silent about women who expect money after “giving” sex.] -Ananova.com, “Kenyan woman fails to win compensation for sex with ex,” October 3, 2002

On sexual harassment: Women have the best of all possible worlds: the ability to cry wolf when the wolf was invited and then behaves, well, as wolves do. A man cannot risk or afford to be alone with a woman who is not his wife, at play or work. Some professional athletes need to worry about even being alone with their wives, but that’s a story for another time. The number of sexual harassment complaints has increased by nearly 50% since 1992 despite the fact that the EEOC finds reasonable cause in only 9.3% of the cases (3.8% in 1992). Forcible rape charges are increasing, up 4% this year, after years of decline. The increasing legal redress creates a fear in men and carries systemic implications. How do men handle business travel with female coworkers, especially when there are late hours and hotel room meetings? If they refused to travel with a woman, would the EEOC shriek? How does a man work alone with a woman in ye old Residence Inn? They’re going to need witnesses. What man is safe from accusations if he spends time alone with a woman these days? -Jewish World Review, August 1, 2003, Marianne M. Jennings, “On the Sponge Bob Male and mandatory supervision”

Men want sex from women, so some of them harass women sexually. Women want money from men, so some of them harass men economically. The mainstream media recognize the former as a problematic issue but not the latter.

(See also “False rape accusations may sometimes mask economic harassment of men.“)

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