RPJ Partner Ethan Krasnoo Featured in Law360 Article “Opera Star’s Plea Shows Broad Reach of #MeToo, Atty Says”

RPJ Partner Ethan Krasnoo was recently featured in a Law360 article entitled “Opera Star’s Plea Shows Broad Reach of #MeToo, Atty Says”. Law360 publishes its newsletter to 1.5 million legal professionals each day.  The article, by Cara Salvatore, features a “Q&A” with Ethan which focuses on RPJ’s representation of Samuel Schultz, under Ethan’s leadership, in connection with the sexual assault of Samuel by famous opera singer David Daniels and his husband.

As detailed by Ethan in this interview, the case involved the 2010 sexual assault of Samuel in Houston, Texas, who at the time was a music student at Rice University.  Empowered by the #MeToo movement in 2018, Samuel provided evidence to Houston prosecutors, who brought charges against the opera singer, Mr. Daniels, and his husband.  Both of them pled guilty this month, on the morning that their trial was set to begin. Upon pleading guilty, they received eight years of probation, must register as sex offenders, and are in no way permitted to contact the victim, Samuel Schultz.

In the Law360 article, Ethan explains that part of why this case is so noteworthy is because sexual assaults by and of adult men, and homosexuals, as is the case here, are rarely publicized or acknowledged.  While the particular case here was prosecuted by the State of Texas, this prosecution is one of the first, if not the first such prosecution of the sexual abuse of a man in Texas.  Highlighting the significance of the case, in the Law360 Q&A, Ethan states: “I think Sam found power in the #MeToo movement. And we expect that the impact will have a continued domino effect. We don’t see many cases like this . . . And despite that fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that LGBTQ people do experience sexual violence at a similar or higher rates than straight people . . . We assume that it will [empower] other individuals to come forward in the same community and moving forward it can be more open and talked about.”

Ethan additionally discusses how, while public lawsuits involving the sexual abuse of men are not common, he has seen in his work as an employment lawyer that it is not uncommon in the employment context and similar scenarios for persons of power to take advantage of mentees or subordinates in ways which violate the law.  As Ethan discusses, the case against Mr. Daniels and his husband presents “a template to look at to pursue these wrongs when they’re identified.”

At the end of the article Ethan discusses the role that a civil attorney can play in providing guidance and preparation to a victim in a criminal sexual abuse case.  While a district attorney may prosecute the case on behalf of the “people,” the district attorney does not represent the victim, and their communications are not protected by attorney-client privilege.  Ethan articulates that it is helpful to a victim for them to have someone to address their questions about the process, address any disparaging statements made seeking to discredit the victim, prepare the victim to recount the trauma that they went through, and prepare them for cross-examination on the witness stand.  Further, Ethan addresses the challenges associated with victims having to relive their trauma in connection with a lawsuit, whether that is during a deposition or trial, and the pluses and minuses to obtaining a plea bargain in a criminal case in lieu of a jury verdict.

To learn more of what Ethan had to say about this case and these topics, read the article here: https://www.law360.com/articles/1713000?utm_source=ios&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=ios-shared (Subscription Needed).

This article is intended as a general discussion of these issues only and is not to be considered legal advice or relied upon. For more information, please contact RPJ Partner Ethan Krasnoo who counsels clients in areas of complex commercial litigation, arbitration, mediation and dispute resolution, and employment, intellectual property, and entertainment and media. Mr. Krasnoo is admitted to practice law in New York, the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and United States Tax Court.