PHILADELPHIA – Today, Philadelphia Commission for Women Executive Director, Jovida Hill, released the following statement in response to reports that three current and former employees have accused Sheriff Jewell Williams of sexual harassment:
“While the last few weeks of startling accounts from women who have been abused or sexually harassed by men in power have revealed a troubling pattern, they have also produced a rallying call for victims and survivors. These are encouraging signs that sexual harassment at the workplace will no longer live under a veil of silence and humiliation. The social media campaign, #MeToo, started by activist Tarana Burke, recently amplified by actress Alyssa Milano, that emerged following the Harvey Weinstein accusations has given women the courage to share their stories on social media and may have inspired countless other women to come forward and break their silence.
“Comparable stories coming from the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office unfortunately add to the growing number of high profile men both in public office and private workplaces that have sexually harassed and/or abused male and female employees or colleagues. As allegations from these women have surfaced, along with details of a settlement awarded to one of the victims, we believe that Sheriff Jewell Williams should resign his post. Our hearts are with those that have come forward, and to all victims of sexual assault and harassment.
“Further, it’s time to reassess how settlement and non-disclosure agreements are applied in cases of sexual harassment and abuse. Settlement agreements tend to protect the harasser and intimidate the victim, and contribute to sustaining serial cases like these. We believe that the victim should be the one to decide whether or not settlements remain confidential.
“We applaud PA Senators Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Vincent Hughes (D-Phila), who on Wednesday took an important first step and unveiled proposed legislation that would ban nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment.”