Sexual Harassment Lawyer Accused Of Raping Craigslist Women

This alleged Craigslist rapist has an advantage over the other ones that have dominated the headlines: He specializes in employment law, specifically prosecuting sexual harassment. Also, it at least partly involves consensual BDSM.

Three women say San Francisco lawyer Robert Michael Hoffman, 50, raped or sexually assaulted them in the past few months, their ages ranging from nineteen to thirty-six. He faces charges of rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment, and forced oral sex. He founded an employment law practice that includes litigating sexual harassment cases.

In an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Hoffman's lawyer framed this as a BDSM issue: "His ad clearly said he was seeking dominant sex with submissive women. It talked about getting controlled, getting hit and getting their hair pulled." He claimed the DA had declined to file charges with the first two women who went to police, but that the third made the difference. The DA refused to comment on whether that was true, and if so, why they hadn't gone forward with charges.

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He also said, "We believe this is a case about bondage and aggressive sex involving women who were at the location voluntarily, consenting to rough sex...Our stance is if they withdrew consent, he would not have had sex. He did not want to have sex with people who didn't want it."

That all sounds good in theory, but we also wonder about the curious coincidence of three women who, between them presumably know at least something about the boundaries of voluntary rough sex, all finding him to have violated them. There's always a measure of personal risk taken in making a sexual assault claim, but it's inarguably bigger given that the social judgment these women would face, even in San Francisco, for looking for "rough sex" online and going to a stranger's house for it. Even if some observers could understand the theoretical difference between preliminary consent and withdrawn consent — and the Julian Assange case taught us very few people do — we can already smell the "what did you expect?" from this side of the continent. If he did in fact rape and attack these women, it's a good thing the DA thought otherwise.

SF Sexual Harassment Lawyer Accused Of Rape [SF Chronicle]