Video Suggestions

by | Sep 28, 2016

Video 1

“Felix Vail Case Becomes Oldest Prosecution of Suspected Serial Killer in History”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/08/12/jury-felix- vail-found-guilty-murdering-his-first-wife/88634718/

Note: In addition to the video, please see the following article, also included at the above-referenced internet address:

“Felix Vail Case Becomes Oldest Prosecution of Suspected Serial Killer in History”

According to the article, nearly 54 years after Mary Horton Vail went under the dark water of the Calcasieu River, a jury found her then-husband, Felix Vail, guilty of murdering her.

It is the oldest prosecution of a suspected serial killer in United States history.

He was the last known person with Mary, the woman he called his wife, Sharon Hensley, who disappeared in 1973, and his wife, Annette, who disappeared in 1984.

Sentencing is set for September 26, but Vail will get a life sentence without parole, which means he may celebrate his upcoming 77th birthday behind bars.

“Justice is being served today,” District Attorney John DeRosier told reporters. “I’m just honored to be a part of this process.”

He said prosecutors believe there could be other victims beyond these three women.

Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland said he and Melissa Sonnier traveled the country, digging up evidence, much of which jurors didn’t get to hear, including that one of Vail’s ex-wives describing pristine surgical saws he kept in a VW trunk.

He said prosecutors confirmed that Vail had molested a child in Oklahoma, but authorities were unable to pursue that case because the statute of limitations had expired.

The Clarion-Ledger reported on the allegations of molestation in 2013, citing items that private investigator Gina Frenzel had found inside Vail’s Texas home, including a photograph of a naked 3- year-old girl and journals where he discussed his relationship with that girl and other children.

Annette’s mother, Mary Rose, who had pushed for 32 years for justice for her daughter, called the verdict “a prayer answered, a dream come true that justice would be done and that he would be held accountable for the three young lives.”

Mary Vail’s brother, Will Horton, praised the district attorney’s office for their dedication and Rose for never giving up. He talked of his love for his sister and his nephew, Bill, who died of cancer in 2009.

Bill’s widow, Janet, talked about her late husband, who at age 8 walked into the police station in Livingston, California, in August 1970, and told a detective that his father, Felix Vail, had said he killed the boy’s mother, Mary.

“Today he was heard,” she said.

Public Defender Andrew Casanave said, “From the beginning, I disagreed with this concept of this prosecution. Clearly the jury disagreed with me. I think we put on one hell of a defense, despite out moneyed and outspent.”

Felix Vail had maintained his innocence, saying he is a victim of “hate” and “hypocrisy.”

In 1962, he told deputies his wife accidentally fell from the boat when they were trotline fishing on the Calcasieu River.

But three former friends testified Vail told them he killed his wife, Mary.

Discussion Questions

1. What is a “statute of limitations?”

A “statute of limitations” is the period of time a plaintiff in a civil case or a prosecutor in a criminal case has to bring a cause of action against a defendant. If the plaintiff/prosecutor does not comply with the applicable statute of limitations, he/she is forever barred from bringing a cause of action against the defendant that is governed by the subject statute of limitations period.

2. In your reasoned opinion, should there be a statute of limitations period for murder? Why or why not?

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. On both the federal and state levels, there is no statute of limitations period for murder. The unlawful, intentional taking of the life of another human being is believed to be too wrongful to justify a statute of limitations period.

3. As the article indicates, prosecutors confirmed that Felix Vail had molested a child in Oklahoma, but authorities were unable to pursue that case because the statute of limitations had expired. In your reasoned opinion, should there be a statute of limitations period for child molestation? Why or why not?

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary.

Video 2

“Roger Ailes’ Exit May Help All Sexual Harassment Victims”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/07/22/roger-ailes-exit-fox-news-may-bring-other- victims-forward/87445490/

Note: In addition to the video, please also see the following article, also included at the above- referenced internet address:

“Roger Ailes’ Exit May Help All Sexual Harassment Victims”

According to the article, the resignation of Roger Ailes, the powerful CEO of Fox News Channel, two weeks after a former Fox & Friends host sued him for sexual harassment could encourage other victims in a wide range of industries to come forward, women’s advocates say.

“We see spikes in reporting when there is a really large national conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace,’’ says National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill.

Ailes, 76, was sued by Gretchen Carlson, a onetime co-host of the network’s morning talk show Fox & Friends, who said her career suffered after she rejected his advances. Ailes has denied the charges. Yet, New York magazine has reported that an internal inquiry by Fox News parent 21st Century Fox discovered several more women also claimed to have been harassed by Ailes, including Fox star Megyn Kelly.

Ailes resigned, effective immediately.

“Some victims of sexual harassment might be encouraged to come forward after seeing that Ailes resigned,’’ especially if they see his departure as a “form of accountability,” says Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality for the National Women’s Law Center.

Sexual harassment is a frequent reality in the workplace. An oft-cited 2011 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that one in four women said they had experienced it on the job.

Workplace harassment is often not reported, says the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Employees who experience harassment fail to report the harassing behavior or to file a complaint because they fear disbelief of their claim, inaction on their claim, blame, or social or professional retaliation,” it said in a June 2016 executive summary of a task force report on the topic.

The day that Ailes stepped down, Carlson tweeted a statement from her lawyer that read in part: “We hope that all businesses now understand that women will no longer tolerate sexual harassment and reputable companies will no longer shield those who abuse women.’’

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox, did not mention the sexual harassment allegations in a recent statement. He praised Ailes, the man he tasked two decades ago with creating a new cable network.

“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” said Murdoch, who will step into the roles of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News and Fox Business Network in the wake of Ailes’ departure. “Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

NOW’s O”Neill said it was troubling that Murdoch did not refer to Carlson’s charges. “As the new CEO, Rupert Murdoch needs to reassure the viewing public that Fox News understands and will comply with the law,’’ she says. “His silence does just the opposite.”

However, Murdoch’s sons, Lachlan Murdoch, co-executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, and James Murdoch, the company’s CEO, said in a separate statement that they maintain their “commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect.”

And O’Neill says she is heartened by how quickly Fox responded after Carlson filed her legal complaint. It represents “extraordinary progress” she says, when an allegation is made, top executives take it seriously, and “there is swift action.”

“If that doesn’t happen, then quite frankly, harassers are able to move forward with their careers, are able to move up, and their victims get sidelined, or go elsewhere,’’ she said.

Sexual harassment helps to fortify the so-called “glass ceiling’’ that blocks women from advancing in some organizations, O’Neill says. Dealing with such abuse “takes an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy and that pulls you off your game, so then you’re not performing at the top of your ability.’’

And many sexual harassers “are serial offenders,’’ she says.

“They have a strategy. They know what works,” she says. “They utilize a number of tactics so that they can continue with their behavior and not face consequences.’’

Workplace policies on reporting and disputing harassment issues can vary. Carlson did not sue Fox News, or 21st Century Fox, when she filed her complaint earlier this month in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Fox News has said that when Carlson signed her contract, she agreed to an arbitration clause that mandated “any employment dispute regarding her tenure at Fox News must be done via confidential arbitration.”

“It remains to be seen if Fox News is dedicated to eliminating sexual harassment throughout the organization,” O’Neil says. Those at the top of the organization “really needs to understand how corrosive sexual harassment is and need to be committed to fighting it.”

Discussion Questions

1. Define sexual harassment.

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website (https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm):

Sexual Harassment—It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

2. As the article indicates, workplace sexual harassment is often not reported. Why not?

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Employees who experience harassment fail to report the harassing behavior or to file a complaint because they fear disbelief of their claim, inaction on their claim, blame, or social or professional retaliation.” In short, victims are fearful of the negative repercussions of filing a claim, even though sexual harassment law is designed to protect those who file a claim.

3. In terms of sexual harassment, should an employer be legally responsible for the wrongful actions of an employee? For example, if the allegations in the subject case are proven to be true, should Fox News be responsible for the wrongful action of Roger Ailes? Explain your response.

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. In your author’s opinion, if the facts demonstrate that an employer either knew or should have known that sexual harassment was occurring and failed to address the wrongful behavior, the employer (in addition to the aggressor) should be held liable. Sexual harassment law does provide for such employer liability.