You’d have to be living under a rock around here if you’re not aware of the accusations of sexual harassment that have been leveled against John DePetro by WPRO co-worker Dee DeQuattro (the complaint can be found here). Yesterday DePetro talked to RI Future’s Bob Plain (who also used to work for WPRO) in an attempt to give his side of the story and was subsequently suspended by the radio station (until next Monday) for commenting on the case against their orders.
I always go back and forth on whether to deal with these types of issues–accusations–when it relates to, for lack of a better term, “newsmakers”. In general though, I’ve tried to err on the side of “letting it play out” before jumping in. The DePetro incident, however, is unique in that it involves someone who, by any measure, is all for jumping in feet first and running with accusations and letting the derision fly. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a style that, apparently, appeals to some but I don’t care for it and I’m not a fan.
This is a classic he said/she said and we all have our own predispositions on who to believe. So the question is: do we hoist him on his own petard and take him to task under the assumption that the accusations are true? Or do we hold our fire until the process plays out? Many have no problem ripping into DePetro–giving him a dose of his own medicine. For me, while I see more than a little plausibility in the accusations, I have a hard time stooping to DePetro’s own level in this, mostly out of empathy for his family. If the charges are proven true, it’s pretty obvious that DePetro should be fired and deserves all of the vitriol hurled at him. Karma is a bitch. But I’ll only dance on his grave when–or if–he’s actually buried.
ADDENDUM: I was working on this prior to seeing Bob Plain’s lame attempt at moral equivalency:
Conservatives across Rhode Island are upset that a Warwick public works employee didn’t lose his job after being accused of stealing from the city. Accused, mind you, not convicted. Meanwhile, not a peep from the right about what WPRO should do with the state’s biggest blowhard John DePetro, who is accused of something far worse than property theft. He’s accused of sexual harassment, something that can cause serious emotional scars on another human being. But I suppose so long as it doesn’t cost them any money, conservatives just don’t care about who does what.
That I even have to explain the differences is pretty ridiculous. I mean, even the employee’s union didn’t dispute that he attempted to steal items, Bob. Instead, they based their case on the fact that he’d been “punished” already by being suspended and that his subsequent firing was too far–“double jeopardy”. As Mayor Avidesian put it, the City lost because they had taken “too many bites of the apple” in punishing the employee. That the arbitrator agreed with this line of thinking points more to the failures of arbitration than the “innocence” of a tax-payer funded thief.
Now, Bob is correct that the worker hasn’t been convicted yet (the criminal case is pending and the City tried to have the arbitration hearing after the conclusion of the criminal case, to no avail). I agree that the sexual predation DePetro is accused of is worse than stealing, but being caught red-handed by a third party is different than a he said/she said accusation with no other witness (at least, as far as I could determine). Sorry, it’s just more black and white and, hence, provides more solid ground for critiquing prior to conviction.