Over the weekend, Tenoch Huerta was accused of sexual assault by musician María Elena Ríos. You can read about that here. On Monday, Huerta posted a response on Instagram and also sent it to Variety. In his statement, Huerta says, “About a year ago, I dated Elena for several months. […] It was entirely consensual at all times, as countless others can attest. And throughout it was a loving, warm and mutually supportive relationship. After it ended, however, Elena began to misrepresent our interactions both privately and in front of groups of mutual friends.”
So, they dated for a few months and “countless others can attest” that the relationship was “entirely consensual”. Is that because “countless others” are privy to the intimate details of the relationship, or just that there a lot of people who will defend Huerta’s reputation? Because that was never in doubt. I would sort of like to know what, exactly, “countless others” would “attest”.
He went on to say, “I engaged a legal team to commence the appropriate actions to protect my reputation and refute these irresponsible and false accusations that can cause great prejudice and damage.”
It’s giving “my ex is crazy” but also “call legal”.
Huerta goes on to call Ríos’s allegations “false and offensive”, and to thank “everyone who is willing to look at the facts and reflect before rushing to an untrue and unjust conclusion”. What…what facts? We are deep in he said/she said territory, where Ríos is saying their relationship was abusive and predatory, and he is saying it was “entirely consensual”. We don’t have any facts!
This reminds me of the allegations against Aziz Ansari, and how “Grace’s” story about a “bad date” with Ansari painted a stark picture of the gulf that can exist between a woman’s experience of intimacy and a man’s. A man might assume everything is consensual because she never actually said “no” to anything he did, meanwhile, a woman is enduring what she considers a bodily violation in silence, because women are routinely harmed or killed for saying “no”. And that doesn’t even include the people who get swept up by a charming person only to come out of the relationship and clearly see how f-cked up it was in hindsight.
Huerta wants us “look at the facts” without providing any actual facts, and the thing is, just his refutation will be taken more seriously than Ríos’s allegations. The burden is now on her to prove abuse a year after they broke up, and there will be people for whom no amount of evidence would ever be enough. (Just look what happened to Amber Heard, and she had receipts.)
This is why people say, “Believe women.” It’s not, “Believe women to the exclusion of all evidence,” it’s just a request to start from a place of good faith, to remember that women gain nothing from coming forward with these types of claims. (Also, statistics bears it out, intimate partner violence is pervasive. And these are just stats for the US, Mexico is not any safer for women.) María Elena Ríos has already been through the intimate partner violence wringer, she’s still rebuilding her life after surviving an acid attack. What does she have to gain from going up against a superhero star with a significant Hollywood machine at his back? Say it with me now: N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
Huerta basically played the “crazy ex” card and that will suffice to sweep this all under the rug and forget about it for a lot of people. I’m not saying we should get out the pitchforks, but maybe we should all put a pin in this and not forget the time María Elena Ríos told us about Tenoch Huerta. This is the kind of gossip it pays to remember.