The NFL’s decision to appeal Judge Sue Robinson’s decision reveals how far they’ve come, and at the same time, how much farther there is to go. As Judge Robinson points out in her 16 page ruling, the NFL successfully argued that Watson did in fact sexually violate multiple women with his “predatory” and “egregious” behavior. The NFL appeal today demonstrates their belief shared by anti-sexual assault advocates such as RALIANCE, that this ruling does not go far enough, particularly since Watson has expressed no contrition, is unrepentant, and stands by his actions.
Sexual assault encompasses a range of destructive behaviors: from explicit comments, public exposure, the unauthorized circulation and/or possession of nonconsensual sexual images, to physical force. Survivors of sexual assault by means of threat, duress, coercion, deception, and/or impairment experience traumatic harm.
Increasing the penalty for these abusive actions is welcome but insufficient. Accountability is more than punishment, it should also seek to repair harm, and prevent future abuse. We support the NFL in using this opportunity to both employ policies that recognize the seriousness of any abusive behaviors, and require change to prevent further abuse.