My husband is a history teacher at a local private school. Recently he was accused of sexual misconduct by several female students. By misconduct, they mean that my husband put his arm around their shoulders in an avuncular hug, or, in one girl’s case, hugged her to give comfort when she was upset and crying. My husband is not a sexual predator. He didn’t expose himself to these girls, touch them inappropriately, or threaten bad grades if they didn’t kiss him or do what he wanted. I know my husband. I’ve been married to him for nineteen years and we have daughters of our own. He’s a kind, caring, decent man who’d never do anything to hurt anyone. Now he’s been forced to resign from his position and of course he’s ruined as a teacher — he’ll never work in his field again. Our girls are devastated and don’t know what to think or feel about their father. (I myself wouldn’t know what to think of him if I weren’t convinced of his innocence.) And also there’s this: the principle of the school hates my husband because he called her out on certain behaviors (favoritism among teachers) and she got her wrist slapped by the local board. So I believe this was an intentional attack on my husband — that the principal wanted to oust him and talked a few girls into making bogus claims. I’ve told my husband we need to hire a lawyer to fight the case, but he’s sick of the whole thing and wants to move to another part of the country and start over. I’m not in agreement with him. What to do?
I’m sorry to hear your bad news. #MeToo started as an excellent movement for women who’d been the prey of bosses and male colleagues as well as others, but I’ve heard cases now in which the purpose of #MeToo has been twisted for political reasons such as you claim happened to your husband. It would not be correct for me to tell you which you should do — move to another part of the country and start over, or remain where you are, hire a lawyer and fight. This decision is for your husband to make. Personally, however, I believe it is always better to clear one’s name. In this case, too, it would be good to clarify exactly what the principal’s actions were. If she fired your husband because of an old vendetta between them, that dirty deed has to see the light of day and the principal, rather than your husband, is the one who needs to take the fall. For this reason it would be good to hire a lawyer. Also for your daughters who need to know the truth about what happened in order to move forward with their lives. Please stay in touch and let me know how this plays out.
I wish you the best.