In the era of #MeToo, Kavanaugh, and other perplexities related to allegations of sexual misconduct of miscellaneous men in positions of power, it might perhaps seem inevitable that John Dehlin would eventually find his way to the center of the fray. Opinions might differ as to whether he would be more likely to show up as an activist or as an accused perpetrator. The safe money was probably on both. Apparently in response to the circumstances surrounding an unrelated allegation, sometime during April the pseudonymous “Rosebud,” a former employee of Open Stories Foundation who was released under sketchy circumstances apparently related to an emotional affair (with limited physical components; linked in this sentence, see especially text beginning at RB5), has released additional information about her experience with John Dehlin. This additional comment both clarifies her earlier comments about the limited sexual scope of their relationship and makes clear that one problematic aspect was that in at least one case it was lacking in and contrary to her consent. The meat of her further statement can be found here. I don’t feel to comment a great deal more about this except to say that this is a clear illustration of sexual misconduct and the involved communities need to decide what they really think of such misconduct and whether they care more about accountability or whether they are willing to permit this to be an endemic phenomenon as long as those doing it share their ideology.
Upon thinking it through this morning, with everything that’s going on in the press and my life, now is as good a moment as any to share. This gets to the heart of why I’m so disgusted about what’s happening right now.
At first John really seduced me. It was nice to be heard and be speaking to a man who had the ability to perceive my perspective and how I felt. I learned a lot about what was missing in my marriage from him, having married before I understood enough about life and myself.
But as time went on, I got to know him better. I began to understand the danger of my situation — the danger that has since unfolded in his media spectacle. I was still strangely emotionally attached to him, something I understand a lot better now, but at the time I was stuck protecting him while I was vulnerable to whatever he might try to do to hurt me in the present or future. I see it now as a bit like Stockholm syndrome. I see a similar phenomenon in members who protect the church despite how poorly it treats them.
Anyway, as time went on, I was acting less and less for my own self and in my own self-interests and more in the interest of self-protection, which, admittedly, is also a self-interest, but it is a different one than desire for love and affection. It’s a desire for safety.
Well, one night, after a conference, I said goodnight to John and our hosts in the home where we were staying. I had told John, like so many times before, not to come to my room to bother me. We had been minimally sexual (although I didn’t understand how minimally at the time because I had no real experience with normal sex then and I took it all so ridiculously seriously) and I wanted him to leave me alone and knock it off. Well, as usual, he didn’t do as I requested. I went up to the child’s bedroom where I had been asked by the hosts to sleep and got in bed. Before long, John was at the beside groping my breasts (yes, the irony considering the current media situation). I was so hurt and scared and tired of the dynamics. That time I pushed him away. I had not consented. I was angry that he was treating me that way, but I was not safe because I was well aware by then of the huge consequences of saying no.
And in that moment, I remember thinking, “What’s the difference between this and non-consensual groping? The fact that I’m not crying out loudly to stop him and get help? But it wouldn’t have been safe for me to scream for help. I was unsafe because John was busy lying publicly and putting together his plans to get the church and to build his narrative and fame. And I was too afraid of what would happen if I reported. I eventually did report, and all of my fears came true. I had good reason to be afraid. I was spot on. So was the difference between that and non-consensual groping the fact that I had fully consented in the past so he now had license to call what was happening in that moment also consensual? Was what he was doing okay because in the past I had said no but he had cajoled my no into a yes so he was justified in trying to do that again or was it just plain wrong that he ever came into my room in the first place?”
Those were my thoughts at the time. I understand better now, but that is where I was then.
What he was doing was wrong because of the extreme power imbalance in the situation… in a similar manner to what the MTC president did wrong (EDIT: although I am of course not sure about the details of that case). Obviously in that moment, it was non-consensual groping. But in previous moments, the power imbalance also made it wrong, even if in previous moments I had not pushed him away. I was not happy and taken care of — I was frightened, threatened and he was my boss.
Anyway…. I hope you can see where my perspective about John getting all upset about this MTC president is coming from. He has no right to point fingers. He needs to let the women speak for themselves. EDIT: He wants media power and fame. The attention feeds him even though he is no better than the MTC president was. He never cared about me. He used me because I was exciting to him.
As for the crime: that was an audio recording John made of me without my consent. It was the moment I told my attorney about that audio recording that my attorney got red in the face (in anger at John after reading his emails to me and seeing my fear and horror about what was happening) and said, “I’ll take the case.” He knew John’s actions had gone far enough to make a clear case about who was right and who was wrong if he ever had to go before a judge and jury. A crime of that sort will do that. My attorney knew, of course, that I didn’t want to ever go to court or litigate because I had made that clear, but he also wanted some assurance the he could actually win if the situation changed.
Anyway. John should shut up and the OSF has an ethical obligation to compensate me, I think. That compensation won’t ever happen, but I still think the obligation is there. They’re in my debt. And I’m not going to forgive that debt because I don’t think it would be healthy for me to do so. But, I would like all of the drama in my life to finally be over so I can just grow old and happy.
And am I afraid of him suing me for saying this? No, because it’s true.
I will add a last thought on this. I believe her. Her story matches and explains her known circumstances well and as much of her story as she has told has remained consistent over time. She has chosen to avoid litigation with its attendant drama, and I respect her decision. I have no expectations of Dehlin suing her because, as she said, “it’s true,” and I suspect the process of discovery would make that all too painfully clear.