Last week, the tech journalist Quinn Norton wrote a Medium essay accusing the well-known tech blogger Robert Scoble of grabbing her breast and butt without consent while drunk at Foo Camp several years ago.
As Norton's account circulated on social media and other women made allegations against Scoble of abusive sexual behavior, Scoble gave an interview to USA Today in which he said he didn't remember the incident at Foo Camp but admitted non-specific wrongdoing:
I did some things that are really, really hurtful to the women and I feel ashamed by that. I have taken many steps to try to get better because I knew some of this was potentially going to come out.
Today, Scoble made an about face in a blog post that attacks several of his accusers and completely misleads people what Norton wrote about him, making it sound like an admission of wrongdoing against himself.
I questioned Scoble about this on his Facebook account and he responded. Here's the exchange.
Me: "Quinn Norton, by her own account, physically accosted me." This is false. Norton's account was that you grabbed her breast and butt without consent before she physically (and justifiably) defended herself. You were asked about this allegation directly by USA Today reporter Jessica Guynn.
Two Foo Camp organizers, Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Winge, have corroborated Norton's allegation. O'Reilly said your actions that night resulted in your ban from future events and prompted the creation of a code of conduct for the event. Winge said Norton told her that night what you did.
If you're not going to address the allegations directly and accurately, you shouldn't be discussing them at all.
Scoble: By Quinn's account she attempted to pick a fight and got one. It would have been much more appropriate to get the conference staff involved in a drunken affair that might be damaging to one or more of the participants, or to the reputation of the conference itself. I wasn't removed from Foo Camp, and was a speaker at an event the next year, and Tim O'Reilly talked to me over the last year in preparation for his book, so I wonder why the difference in public and private behavior toward me.
Me: Quinn Norton's account: "And then, without any more warning, Scoble was on me. I felt one hand on my breast and his arm reaching around and grabbing my butt. Scoble is considerably bigger than I am, and I realized quickly I wasn't going to be able to push him away." That's not a description of a woman picking a fight with you. That's a woman defending herself from sexual assault.
Do you deny the breast- and butt-groping occurred or not? USA Today quotes you saying, "I did some things that are really, really hurtful to the women" and "I knew some of this was potentially going to come out." That made it sound like you caused her and others harm (or suspect you did in a drunken blackout) and wanted to apologize. But your response today is aggressive and non-contrite.
Scoble: I'm sure Sarah Seitz felt hurt when I rejected her. I feel bad anytime I hurt somebody.
Me: That's not a response to what I asked. If you don't know whether you groped Norton because you were extremely drunk that night, you shouldn't be accusing her of premeditated assault. It feels like an attempt to manipulate the public against someone you likely harmed.
-- Rogers Cadenhead
The sexual accusations are out of control in America.
I'm tired of hearing that words are somehow a sexual assault or that a hand on the butt through clothing is an assault! If you don't like what someone is saying, LEAVE. If you don't want to be touched, don't stand next to someone and if you have no choice but to be standing next to someone who touches you, MOVE & if they attempt to do it again, TELL THEM NO!
The worst part of all this is the stories coming out have nothing to do with THIS WEEK or this day! Most are from years ago if not decades. If you were raped, why didn't you go to police that same hour? If molested or literally assaulted, why did you wait? I can understand a little kid having fear and not saying something. I was that little boy who really was assaulted and molested off and on for years 7-12 years of age! I know what assault is and these women coming out with this nonsense is insanity. An adult would usually have no excuse to be too fearful to speak soon after something happened. You don't wait years & you don't say speech in public or a hand on the butt is an assault. To say it is, takes away from real assaults of women raped or little kids raped. It took me 3 years to say what happened to me but I was 15 when I said and had been a little kid before then so that is a good excuse in some cases but not for these adults!
I am a liberal who is sick of this. Conservatives are sick of it and we liberals are getting sick of it too.
I'm sorry that you suffered abuse as a child and hope you're taking good care of yourself. I know survivors and it's a long battle.
A "hand on the butt" is sexual assault, which is defined to include any "non-consensual sexual touching of a person."
Many victims of sexual abuse and harassment wait years to report it. They know they will not be believed or will be challenged to defend their decisions, as if the victimization was their own fault.
You're doing that when you state, "If you don't want to be touched, don't stand next to someone and if you have no choice but to be standing next to someone who touches you, MOVE & if they attempt to do it again, TELL THEM NO!"
This is a sad piece of advice. Women don't suffer abuse because they stood next to someone. Put the blame where it entirely lies -- on the abuser.
In the incident discussed in this blog post, the woman said she did take action to stop the assault. Read the links.
I'm not sick of women coming forward to report their abuse. I'm sick of women being abused. The only reason so many stories are coming to light now is because society has let this problem occur for so long without addressing it.
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