Activist Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Young Woman at National Animal Rights Conference
- The following alert is being distributed by the Grassroots Animal Rights Conference:
With this posting we seek to provide a way to protect women in the animal advocacy community and show sexual assaulters that they will not find a safe haven in this movement.
A criminal complaint charging sexual abuse has been filed against Christian Vegetarian Association founder and former International Director Nathan Braun.
Nathan's picture is posted at http://www.SexualAssaultWatch.org/NathanBraun
At the Grassroots Animal Rights Conference in New York City last month, in the church where many of the activists were staying, a young woman describes "In the middle of the night, I woke up to him [Nathan Braun] rubbing my vagina, trying to finger me, groping my body..."
In our subsequent investigation, at least three other women that he met at animal rights conferences have come forward and reported unwanted aggressive physical advances by Nathan Braun.
In response to the charges last month, Nathan, a self-described "polygamist," said that he "would not be surprised at all" if he had indeed done what she described, but chalked it up to "sexsomnia." If he did do it, he claimed, he did it while he was asleep. Within days, though, he dropped the sexsomnia defense entirely and now evidently denies the assault completely. Nathan now feels he has become an object of prejudice for being, in his words, "one of the very few young 'handsome'-ish, xian [Christian] alpha males in attendance."
We believe that sexual assaulters should be held accountable for their actions within the movement. The predictable response when someone is held accountable is for that person who is accused of sexual assault to deny the act, to minimize the act, to blame the victim, and to threaten those who hold him accountable. We urge Nathan and any one else in the movement who may have sexually victimized others, to chose a more just response: First, to stop sexually harassing and sexually assaulting women, second, acknowledge what they have done, and third, provide restitution to the assault survivor(s) and meet their demands and that of the community. We say to him and anyone else who acts in ways that violates women's boundaries: "You are responsible for your behavior and we hold you accountable for that behavior." We recommend that anyone with sexual assault complaints against them not be allowed to attend, speak, or table at an animal rights venue until he satisfactorily answers to the accusations.
The Christian Vegetarian Association should be commended for doing the right thing and swiftly disassociating themselves from Nathan once they were informed of the situation.
The Grassroots Animal Rights Conference was proactive in setting forth an explicit zero tolerance policy against sexual harrassment and assault. Sexual assault in the animal advocacy community affects us all. It destroys trust, exploits vulnerable individuals, and bankrupts the claims of a movement that speaks about equality and challenges oppressions. This is harmful to the individual women for whom sexual assault can cause physical, psychological, and spiritual damage, but it is also harmful to the movement. It creates a climate in which some of us cannot feel safe in our activism. Sexual assault should not be the cost of being a woman animal activist.
(a printable version of this alert is available at http://www.sexualassaultwatch.org/nathanbraun/flyer.pdf)