The comedian Marcius Melhem – Photo: TV playback
Dsince the 12th of august, the Piauí is prohibited from publishing a report on the developments of the Marcius Melhem case, the comedian accused of sexually harassing at least eight women, all of them co-workers. On Thursday, August 5th, I contacted the press officer Isabela Abdala, hired by Melhem in December last year to deal with allegations of sexual harassment. I counted the revelations I had learned and asked for an interview with the comedian, or his lawyers. Abdala asked that the questions be sent in writing. I sent in six questions and gave five days to receive the answers. On Tuesday, August 10, after the initial deadline, Abdala asked for more time. “Can you give us a deadline until Friday morning or at least Thursday at the end of the day?” Yes, I got a deadline by Friday morning and sent a seventh question to the comedian.
While negotiating more time to respond to the Piauí, Marcius Melhem, through his lawyers, went to court asking that the magazine be subjected to prior censorship and, thus, prevented from publishing the article under investigation. On the 12th, Judge Tula Corrêa de Mello, from the 20th Criminal Court of Rio de Janeiro, accepted Melhem’s request and ordered “the suspension, for as long as the investigations last, of the publication of an article in the magazine. Piauí or its respective website”. In case of non-compliance with the judicial measure, the judge established a fine of 500 thousand reais, in addition to the collection of copies of the magazine at newsstands and the removal of the article from her website. He also had the leak investigated. In criminal law, the custody of judicial secrecy is the responsibility of justice officials and the parties involved in the process, not journalists.
Ohe legal consequences of allegations of sexual harassment against the comedian are multiple. They started after, in December 2020, the Piauí published a report under the title “What more do you want, daughter, to shut up?”. To do the story, I listened to 43 people. Among them, two victims of sexual harassment, seven victims of psychological harassment and three victims of the two types of harassment, sexual and moral. The most rumored episode involves the humorist Dani Calabresa, whose accounts include an attack that took place at the Vizinha 123 bar, in Botafogo, when her former boss tried to forcefully kiss her as she left the bathroom and, with her genitalia exposed, pressed the artist’s body against the wall.
As soon as the story was published, Melhem sued the Piauí, accusing the magazine of making a lying and biased story. the revelations of the report, the Public Ministry of Labor of Rio de Janeiro asked for an investigation into the conduct of Globo, whose sector of compliance investigated the case internally, but never informed the victims of its findings. In January 2021, as reported by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, eight women reported the cases of harassment they were victims of to the prosecutor Gabriela Manssur, from the National Ombudsman of the Public Ministry. The reports were later sent to the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro.
Not all cases of sexual harassment that reached the compliance Globo are part of the investigation by the Public Ministry. THE Piauí found that at least three women, whose names appeared in Globo’s investigations, decided not to talk to the MP for various reasons. One of them had decided to tell her case to prosecutor Manssur, but, at the last minute, she backed away, fearing legal reprisals. investigated by compliance from Globo for months, Melhem took a license from the station in March 2020 and ended up permanently away in August of the same year. Globo has never publicly admitted that the breach of contract happened due to accusations against the comedian.
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On the morning of August 13, after the judge had already suspended the publication of the report, advisor Isabela Abdala sent an email to the magazine. Signed by lawyers Técio Lins e Silva and José Luis Oliveira Lima, the text says that “in respect to the secrecy decreed in the processes”, Melhem could not “answer the questions” of the magazine.
THE Piauí is contesting the court decision that submits the magazine to censorship.