Since the Supreme Court ruled that a woman may sue if she believes she has been harassed, men have been wary of making moves that would bring them in front of a grand jury.
Delilah Frescoe recently came into my office. She was about to shake hands with me when I asked her to leave the door open. I said, "Legally, I can't touch you with a 10-foot pole."
"Why?" she asked.
"I'm just playing it safe in case this visit turns out to be an abusive one. What can I do for you?"
"I came to you because I have a problem. I'm in love with Charles Killdair, and he is in love with me."
"Then what's the problem?"
"He won't touch me. He is afraid I will accuse him of sexual harassment."
"That's ridiculous. You wouldn't do that, would you?"
"No, but Charles's brother is a lawyer, and he advised Charles to play it safe."
"How can Charles show his affection for you if he won't touch you?"
"I asked him the same question, and he said he would do it verbally, and I could reply in kind."
"I assume this is not satisfactory."
"Well, it leaves a lot to be desired. A girl likes to get kissed once in a while if she's in love. I offered to sign a statement saying that I wouldn't sue him if he held me in his arms at the movies."
"And what came of that?"
"Charles's brother said it wouldn't suffice if someone reported us to a special prosecutor."
I said, "If Charles really loves you, he would take a chance--even if it means 10 years in prison."
"I don't know how much passion he would put into kissing me if he knew it could lead to perjury."
I told her: "This is a tough case. People have to show affection for each other if they are in love. That's what all the songs are about. Have you spoken to your lawyer about this?"
"Yes. He advised me not to make the first move on Charles. If Charles wants to kiss me, we should find a third party to witness it. If he wants to go even further, we would ask five or six people to look on. They can testify if it was consensual, and that both of us were trembling at the same time."
This was a difficult situation. I told Delilah: "The rules of love are different from the rules of the court. There are only two choices. You have to find either a fiance who is not afraid of getting physical, or one who doesn't have a lawyer for a brother."
(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate