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Local Rape Crisis Center sees more calls after sex harassment revelations

In the wake of several high-profile sexual assault accusations across the nation, the Rape Crisis Center says it is handling 5 percent more cases this year than last. (KSNV)

Local Henry Grimes has had enough.

“I think it's horrible,” he told me, reacting to the latest name added to the list of the America’s powerful behaving very, very badly.

“I thought he was an outstanding news reporter – totally shocked to hear the allegations, you know,” Grimes added, exasperated at the news that Charlie Rose, the veteran of CBS and PBS, harassed women. Tuesday, both organizations fired him. Rose has apologized.

Rose now joins a growing list with names like Spacey, Weinstein, Louis C.K, Moore and Franken – all powerful in their own spheres and all accused of sexual misconduct.

“I think that people in authority and high places have abused other people – especially females,” Grimes says.

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The list includes different degrees of culpability – or deniability. But what can't be denied is America is now grappling with something big.

And they see that at the Rape Crisis Center, which is handling 5 percent more cases this year than last.

Since this sex harassment tsunami began, it's now getting more calls.

“On the one hand, it’s very empowering for survivors in some ways and really helps them realize they are not alone in their experience,” says Danielle Dreitzer, the center’s executive director.

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“When you see all of these names come forward and the number of victims and the number of people impacted by each of these people, it helps people realize, ‘Yeah, I wasn’t imagining that – that really happened and that really was difficult for me and impactful for me and inappropriate for that person to do,’” Dreitzer says.

Dreitzer said she hopes this discussion about harassment means America is turning a page: “That when somebody does step forward and say this happened to me that never again are they met with, 'Are you sure you really want to talk about that?’”

Experts say harassment is pervasive. Activist Annette Magnus says it happened to her at the state capital in Carson City.

“It's incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to go through something like that, especially as a young person. I was 19 years old when my situation occurred and it's something that I'm still dealing with, and I'm 32,” she says.

Magnus, executive director of the progressive group Battle Born Progress, is a fixture in state politics. Even with that, she says it’s tough coming forward.

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“Working in politics, you are afraid of retribution. You are afraid of what can happen if you speak out and speak the truth about something that happened to you that’s terrible,” Magnus says.

This past summer, state Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, resigned after an investigation found he had 14 instances of inappropriate conduct this past session and evidence of misconduct in years past.

Critics applaud Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas – the leader of Senate Democrats – for tackling the issue, but they say both parties are guilty historically of looking the other way.

Harassment, experts say, is about power, not lust. Companies, experts add, need to grab this moment to make policies very clear.

“Of what really constitutes harassment, what is unwelcome conduct or communication that can be hostile, offensive or sexual in nature,” says Senior HR Consultant Sam Neff with TriNet.

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Experts also say it’s not unusual for victims – be they male or female – to wait years to tell their story for fear of coming forward. Still, count local Shirley Greenwood as a skeptic. I ran into her, with her granddaughter, at a local strip mall.

“I mean, if it happened to me, somebody’s going to hear about it right then,” says Greenwood. “Real soon. Not 30 years from then.

“To me, that says it didn’t really bother them but now they’re going to jump on the bandwagon.”

We'll end with Henry, sick of all this harassment news, who says what America needs is a good lesson in character.

“I'm old school, which worked. New school is not working. The morals – the words courtesy, respect – we don't even know these words in this culture,” Grimes says.

If all this proves anything, perhaps it’s never too late to learn.

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