Brett Ratner, director and alleged rapist, has filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the women who've accused him of sexual misconduct. On a Facebook post in October, Melanie Kohler wrote "Brett Ratner raped me. He's a famous director and producer in Hollywood. Brett Ratner raped me, I'm saying his name." That post has since been removed.
Kohler's lawyer, Robbie Kaplan -- who helped bring down the Defense of Marriage Act -- believes that Ratner's lawsuit is "an attempt to send a message to other women, to try and stop other women from speaking," but Kohler and her lawyer refuse to be silenced. The two came forward in an interview on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos. Kohler choked back tears as she applauded the six other women who have come forth against Ratner since his lawyer, Marty Singer -- who's also representing accused violent rapist Danny Masterson -- threatened immediate legal action if she didn't remove her Facebook post. But nevertheless, Kohler said in the interview that she is persisting to "be the voice that helps other women come forward."
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Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who brought down Roger Ailes in a sexual harassment lawsuit, responded on Twitter to the news of Brett Ratner suing Kohler for libel. She said, "intimidate the victim, threaten her with legal action, smear her reputation. These are bully tactics, @BrettRatner."
These other women's accusations of Ratner's sexual harassment and assault will hopefully help strengthen Kohler's case. Olivia Munn, Jaime Ray Newman, and Natasha Henstridge are three powerful women in Hollywood with their own stories on Ratner. According to the Los Angeles Times, Brett Ratner reportedly masturbated in front of Olivia Munn, graphically described giving Jaime Ray Newman oral sex on an Air Canada flight, and forced Natasha Henstridge to perform fellatio on him after blocking her at his doorway. Like all other allegations against him, these are situations Ratner and his lawyers vehemently deny.
For those, like Stephanopoulos, who ask the question, "Why did you not go to the police at the time?" Kohler has an answer.
"I think it's different for everyone who goes through anything like this, but it's so embarrassing. It's so humiliating. It's not something that you ever want to relive again, and it just felt like there was nothing that I could do. I didn't think that the police would be able to help me, I didn't know if anyone would be willing to go up against someone so powerful, and it just was easier for me to not relive it."
And through the recent floodgates opening in Hollywood surrounding the topic, we've seen that it's true that people historically haven't wanted to go up against the Hollywood elite, because they've had their careers threatened when doing so. Gwyneth Paltrow confided in then-boyfriend Brad Pitt about Harvey Weinstein's unwanted advances. When Pitt confronted Weinstein, the now-disgraced producer warned Paltrow not to tell anyone else about the times he'd allegedly harassed her in his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. According to the New York Times, Paltrow thought of this as a threat. "I thought he was going to fire me," she said.
Kohler considers the women speaking out in Hollywood to be an inspiration, according to ABC News.
"If I have to risk my life, and what I've worked so hard for ... to be the voice that helps other women come forward, then I am prepared to do that."