Letter to the Editor: Let Charlotte speak 

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Content warning: sexual assault and harassment

Dear Oxy Community,

Some of you may have heard of Charlotte Kirk. She is an actor, fiancée and dog mom — and she’s a survivor of assault. She was just 19 years old when she moved to Hollywood alone from a London suburb with dreams of becoming an actress. Particularly vulnerable as a teenage girl on the autism spectrum, Charlotte almost immediately became a victim of Hollywood’s predatory casting couch culture, in which young actresses are pressured into trading sexual favors for roles. Charlotte was abused and continuously taken advantage of by some of the most powerful men in the entertainment industry – men whose films you’ve likely watched and men who’ve also been accused of sexual misconduct multiple times.

As survivor activists and allies, we connected with Charlotte’s story at once, recognizing our loved ones and ourselves in the abuse she has been forced to endure, both by powerful men and a legal justice system that stacks the odds against survivors. We also recognize that her ongoing legal case will have a resounding impact on survivors’ ability to get justice across California and beyond.

In 2017, Charlotte was coerced into signing an unjust Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which has prevented her from sharing her story with anyone. Charlotte’s abusers have used this agreement to shield themselves from accountability, all the while slandering Charlotte in the press while she is unable to defend herself.

Charlotte’s case is particularly important because of the implications it has for survivors’ access to justice. In 2018, California legislators passed the Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures (STAND) Act, which took effect Jan. 1, 2019. This law, which was passed on the heels of the #MeToo movement, banned the use of NDAs in cases relating to sexual assault, harassment and discrimination. California lawmakers recognized how NDAs had long allowed serial predators with deep pockets — like Harvey Weinstein — to evade justice.

Charlotte is currently locked in a complex legal battle to overturn her NDA on the basis of the STAND Act and another #MeToo-era law codified in the California Code of Civil Procedures (CCP), Sections 1001 & 1002, which can be retroactively applied to her case. Her case is the first test of these laws, passed in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and will set a legal precedent for how they will be applied in the future.

Charlotte’s wealthy abusers and their powerful apologists are fighting for a narrow interpretation of the laws that would effectively render them toothless for future use. The rights of survivors to choose how, when and if they will speak are at stake, not just in California but also in states where similar laws have been passed. Unless this landmark legislation is upheld, serial predators will be able to perpetrate abuse without fear of consequences, so long as they have deep enough pockets.

Up to this point, Charlotte’s abusers have largely been able to control the story in the media, relentlessly painting Charlotte as an extortionist and obscuring the real stakes of the case. It is an unpleasant truth that public perception and the media will likely shape the outcome of this case, but it is the truth nonetheless. We need your help to uplift Charlotte’s story in order to free her, and other survivors silenced by NDAs, from the constraints of this unjust system.

This case needs as much public support as possible. Please check out and share our social media, petition and these articles with the hashtag #LetCharlotteSpeak. Charlotte is paying extensive legal fees to continue this fight, and the cost is becoming untenable. If you are able, please consider donating to her legal defense fund.

Charlotte is fighting for the rights of all survivors, and she can no longer do it alone. Join the fight to help us #LetCharlotteSpeak.

Sincerely,

Elsa DuMoulin and The Let Charlotte Speak Campaign.