Dallas — On the ides of March, I received an email from Sarah Mervosh asking if I would speak to her about the inappropriate behavior I experienced with Lee Trull. “He says he is ready to share his perspective and admit to the inappropriate behavior” adding that she “wants to reflect the perspective of me and the other women in everything they do.” I told her “no,” saying “I would prefer not to give any more visibility to a sexual predator” and that “it saddens me greatly that the Dallas Morning News is interested in doing so.” It was only after multiple people that I knew and trusted spoke to me about the perceived intention for the article that I spoke to Mrs. Mervosh after she assured me in an email that this would not give Lee “gratuitous visibility.” You can imagine my surprise upon reading Lee’s unapologetic life story. I, and many of the women who spoke for this article, were stunned at what it turned out to be. I am still not sure what the reasons Lee, Sarah, and the Dallas Morning News decided to exhume this issue were but they are grossly misguided. If it was to stir the pot, re-open deep wounds, and reignite the anger that us women, the “victims” of such actions feel, then job well done.
When I was reached out to respond about the article, I wrote a long tirade about Lee, Sarah, and the fallacies in the article. I started looking up charities for Lee since he was busy reading and watching movies. I wanted to try to explain to Lee what white male privilege was but realized that wasn’t right; it wouldn’t do any good. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do to help Lee until he comes to terms with what he did and realizes it was wrong. An apology is not “what I’m sorry about is that I should never have engaged with any of these young women in anything but a professional way”; that just translates to “I’m sorry I got caught.”
“I do feel like it’s overblown and contagious,” “I was publically shamed”—these are not the words of a remorseful man. In my opinion, the best way to move forward is to admit that you did something wrong. And from what I read it didn’t sound like Lee was anywhere close to doing that. Thus, you can imagine both my surprise and dread at seeing an email from Lee with the subject “I’m sorry” on May 31.
I’m a forgiving person, I truly am. I believe in second chances and will always hear the other person’s side and try to understand. Perhaps if Lee had apologized before a lengthy profile on him came out, I’d be more sympathetic. But it colored my perspective on his dry, bland apology. I would have accepted it, except I don’t think he is sorry from what the Dallas Morning News printed. And if he was ready to apologize a few weeks after the article, why not just apologize then? He did not apologize for my sake, which is the only reason I would accept his apology. He asked for himself and I don’t forgive for PR needs.
Lee decided to reach out to the paper because he wants to know “what do we do with these guys” like him saying “I think we need to have a conversation about that in a nuanced way.” Let me answer the question for you, Lee. What happens now? Nothing. You try to move on like the rest of us. You get to experience life without the privilege that you once knew. The world doesn’t owe you anything. It doesn’t matter to me who you were in high school, it’s who you are now. As my father used to tell me, you made your bed and now you can lie in it.
I spoke to Sarah for a good 10-15 minutes on how I thought it was a matter of not allowing people like Lee in positions of power or authority, but none of that was printed. And from what I have heard from the other women, not many of their thoughts and perspectives were shared. Why was that Sarah? Why didn’t you check with them before using a random photo in the DMN archive? Why did you lie to us about the nature of the article? Why was I being manipulated by a journalist to write a sympathetic profile on a manipulative man?
Sarah asked “what now?” but why are we asking what’s next for Lee? To be candid, I don’t care. What about the women? What about the community? How can we make sure we don’t let this happen to the next generation of artists?
1. Trust Yourself
My gut often tells me things before my brain can register them, especially in uncomfortable situations. Trust your gut. If someone says something and it immediately makes you uncomfortable, don’t brush it off. Trust that you know what is right and wrong for yourself and when your body/brain is telling you something is off: LISTEN. I used to think “I’m just imagining it” or “I’m just being overly sensitive.” Doesn’t matter. You should never be made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace. Trust how you feel.
2. Share With Others
Talk about it! Until the #metoo movement, I had felt so alone in my feelings and experiences but opening up to others and talking really alleviates that weight. If you feel you can, talk to the person directly. A lot of things are just a misunderstanding or an unfortunate miscommunication. If you feel able to, talk to the person and let them know how it made you feel. If not go to a friend or trusted colleague and tell them. Ask for advice or for support. You may not always get the response you want. I was never quiet about the kind of person I knew Lee to be but I would hear, “Well, that’s not the Lee I know” or “I thought he was done with that.” Even so, tell your story.
3. Ask For Help
Nothing is worse than feeling alone or trapped in a situation of this nature. Don’t hide even though that may be your impulse. Talk to your director, stage manager, or scene partner. Never be afraid to ask a choreographer on hand (fight, movement, intimacy, etc.) to look at something or help you. Suggest bringing a third party in if you have to work one-on-one and need some back up. Talk to a professor if you’re in school and your partner wants to block things in a way that doesn’t suit you. No one can do anything to help unless you say something. It’s not about tattling or being difficult. It’s about making sure you feel comfortable and be able to work free of unwanted pressure.