Demi Lovato

Opinion: Demi Lovato is Not Guilty of Sexual Assault

This has not been a great week for Demi Lovato. On Tuesday, the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer tweeted (then deleted) her response to a fan question that asked about the funniest prank she’d ever pulled. Now she’s under attack by the media and the public.

“I hired a lady of the night in Vegas and sent her to Max’s hotel room to surprise him. She walked into his room without permission and grabbed him in his ‘area’ and he freaked the f**k out hahahaha,” she tweeted.

The tweet was soon deleted and followed by an apology after followers began accusing her of joking about sexual assault. In her defense, Demi said in later tweets, Max was not offended and she herself is a victim of sexual assault as documented by her song “Warrior.”

Her attempts to calm the internet only backfired. Blogs lit up with posts about her laughing at sexual assault, and Twitter users were personally offended by her comparing sexual harassment to jelly beans.

There’s just one problem: what Demi Lovato did is not sexual assault, and the subject of her prank agrees.

Max a.k.a. Max Lea a.k.a. the sexual assault “victim” is Demi Lovato’s bodyguard. He took to Twitter himself after the ruckus, calling the controversial prank a fun joke and telling critics they “need to grow up.”

LET’S GET SERIOUS

Conversations around sexual assault increased heavily last year with Harvey Weinstein allegations and the birth of the #MeToo movement, but the definition of sexual assault isn’t as clear as people would think. Merriam-Webster defines sexual assault as “illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent…” but this is really a blanket definition according to the law.

First, if the intention is not sexual, the contact with a sexual area of the body is likely not classified as sexual assault. For anything to register as assault, the person must be “threatening or attempting to inflict immediate offensive physical contact or bodily harm.” No one in Demi’s story was attempting to offend or harm.

Second, someone grabbing your crotch as a joke is more easily identified as harassment than assault. Sexual assault is — in most states — legally defined as penetration or direct contact with genitalia. If the “lady of the night” in Demi Lovato’s story is guilty of anything, it’s perceived sexual harassment: “unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature.” Even if a judge were to find this lady guilty of sexual harassment, all Demi is guilty of is paying a prostitute. (Sorry, not sorry.)

The truth is, the people attacking Demi and the bloggers accusing her of sexual assault are probably doing more harm to her mental health and her career than her simple prank did to her bodyguard.

Can we stop with the Demi Lovato hate, now?

Does Demi deserve the backlash?
Yes
No
It's complicated
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