5 High-Profile Careers Destroyed By Sex Scandals

An accusation of sexual harassment sounds like bad PR for a presidential campaign. But Herman Cain, despite admitting to a cash payout to one of the accusers (after denying it), managed to raise $400,000 for his campaign on Monday. Many high profile figures have survived sexual harassment allegations unscathed (see AOL Jobs' list of the top five), but a few others have been less lucky.


1. Dominique Strauss-Kahn

After a New York hotel maid accused the head of the IMF and French presidential hopeful of sexual assault, salacious anecdotes poured out of the woodwork. One of the most looming figures in French politics, it turns out, was "an aggressive and incessant groper of women."

Because of doubts about the victim's credibility, the assault charges were ultimately dropped. But Strauss-Kahn nevertheless admitted the encounter was a "moral fault," and returned to Paris a free, but somewhat tarnished, man.


2. Bob Packwood

Before the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991, sexual harassment was, for the most part, just juicy gossip. And in Washington, between 1969 and 1990, stories about Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood titillated many a party.

The maverick Republican was one of the country's most powerful political characters, but soon after his fifth re-election in 1992, 10 women -- largely former staffers and lobbyists -- went public with sordid accounts of his alleged sexual abuse.

Packwood checked himself into rehab for alcoholism, and resigned from the Senate in 1995. His career as a public figure lay in tatters, but Packwood nevertheless found success in the Beltway backstage, founding his own lobbying firm.


3. Brett Favre

The 20-year veteran NFL quarterback ended his record breaking career a couple of times. When he returned to the Minnesota Vikings in 2010, after announcing his retirement, he was greeted with the highly public and highly embarrassing allegation that he sexually harassed the Jets' in-house sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger, in 2008.

Sterger claimed that Favre had left her numerous lewd voicemails and sent her a series of photos of his nether region, including one in which he was masturbating. The NFL ultimately fined Favre $50,000 for his refusal to cooperate fully with its investigation.

The statute of limitations on workplace sexual harassment is two years, and Sterger's deadline passed last December. But just a few weeks later, Favre did get handed a sexual harassment lawsuit -- from two massage therapists who claimed that Favre had made inappropriate comments, sent inappropriate texts, and generally treated them, in the words of one of the accusers, like a "hanging slab of meat."

Favre retired for real soon after.


4. Cleve Bryant

The University of Texas reportedly fired its football coach in March after it found that he had made unwanted sexual advances toward a female administrative assistant for over two years.

The Longhorns chief allegedly harassed the 24-year-old Texas graduate verbally and physically. During one meeting, he reportedly pulled down her dress and bra and fondled her breasts, and on another occasion kissed the woman despite her protests. Other female office workers claimed Bryant had inappropriately kissed them and made lewd remarks. One woman is said to have referred to him as "old-freak-nasty."


5. Mark Hurd

Mark Hurd was, by most accounts, an excellent CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest maker of personal computers. The company doubled in value during his five-year tenure, and HP's revenue beat out that of any other technology company for the first time.

But then last year a female marketer for HP accused him of sexual harassment. An investigation found that the 53-year-old married man may have had someone file inaccurate financial reports on his behalf in order to conceal the relationship. While this did not violate the company's sexual harassment policy, it did violate their rules of business conduct. Hurd was forced to step down.

Hurd's career wasn't exactly ruined, however. He received a $12.2 million severance, and stock options totaling an estimated $34.6 million more. Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, a close friend of Hurd who had also come under fire for sexual harassment, compared the decision to Apple's misguided firing of Steve Jobs. A month later, Ellison named Hurd co-president of Oracle.

Next: 5 High-Profile Careers That Survived Sex Scandals



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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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