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女性创业者遭遇中年油腻投资人,能怎么办?

有时候为了推进业务,职场女性在下班后乃至深夜都会有应酬。但这种活动不是没有风险的,尤其是遇上了迈克尔·费罗这样的投资人。

2016年,迈克尔·费罗接受彭博社电视采访。来源:Chris Goodney/彭博社/Getty Images 

那一刻,凯瑟琳·明秀终于觉得心里的一块大石头落地了。那是2013年9月,在摇摆不定了几个月后,时任投资公司Wrapports董事长的迈克尔·费罗终于签下了一份合同,同意为明秀的职业咨询公司The Muse注资75万元,这笔钱应该能让她的这家初创公司撑到年底了。在费罗的建议下,两人去了他公司在芝加哥市区的一套公寓里吃外卖,顺便讨论一下如何为The Muse公司策划一轮更大规模的融资。

不过等他们进了房间后,费罗好像把融资计划的事忘到了脑后。明秀表示,费罗倒了两杯波本酒,递了一杯给她,然后将手放在她后脑上,拉过她的脸强行索吻。虽然由于他的强迫,她无法避开,但她还是转过了头,费罗的嘴唇落在了她的脸颊上。

明秀回忆道:“我的大脑一片空白,全身冰冷,我立即意识到,我孤身一人跟他在房间里,要想离开可能并不容易。”

在不到三年后的2016年拉斯维加斯消费电子展上,女性创业人哈根·卡普勒也遭遇了跟明秀如出一辙的局面。当时费罗也以做生意为借口,将她请进酒店套房里吃饭。卡普勒时任制造业巨头英格索兰公司高管,她以为费罗找她是谈恒温控制器生意的,因为他不久前刚刚把他的一家医疗创业公司卖给了IBM。没想到,费罗好几次用胳膊从身后抱住了她。卡普勒正色对他说,他是在侵犯她,而且她并不喜欢他。不过费罗锲而不舍,还摸上了她的胸部。

卡普勒当时已经怀孕9周了。她表示,这段经历让她经常做噩梦,甚至平常很难集中精神。她只好在家里工作。“我对自己的看法都不一样了,所以我觉得其他有相同遭遇的人肯定也是一样的。”她说。

两位女士都表示,费罗以提供经济回报为诱饵,故意将她们拖到很晚。比如他提出,可以为明秀提供更多的投资和社会关系;可以跟卡普勒合作甚至提供一份高薪的工作。在经历这次遭遇后,两人的精神都遭到巨大的惊吓和刺激,并且担心他们的业务会因费罗的报复而遭到损害。

这是明秀和卡普勒第一次在媒体上谈及这次经历。在她俩的经历中,费罗都是作为投资人和交易人对她们实施的“潜规则”。不过近几年来,随着费罗成为出版业巨头Tronc公司的非执行主席和最大股东,他的影响力和权力也进一步增长了。Tronc旗下的知名媒体包括《芝加哥论坛报》、《纽约每日新闻》和《巴尔的摩太阳报》等。

上周一,费罗宣布将从Tronc公司的董事会退休,公司首席执行官贾斯汀·迪尔伯恩将接替他担任董事长一职。费罗将仍以顾问身份每年从Tronc领取500万美元报酬,直至2020年12月31日。

《财富》5月初联系了费罗,请他就该两名女性创业人的遭遇发表评论。他通过一名发言人表示拒绝接受采访,此外,他对明秀、卡普勒或本文中其他人提出的任何指责均未做出回应或辩解。

费罗的发言人向《财富》提供了以下声明:“在领导上市公司和其他企业的20余年中,迈克尔·费罗从未收到过针对他的诉讼,也未因指控进行过调解。你们的公开指控似乎主要涉及个人与个人之间的私人行为,且对方也并非Tronc或者他所经营的其他企业的雇员。正如最近所宣布的,费罗先生在领导Tronc公司扭亏为盈后,已经退休重返私人生活。因此,我们不会对此事作其他评论。”

费罗的职业生涯创办过许多公司,其中最成功的是两家数字创业公司Click Commerce(2006年以2.92亿美元出售给Illinois Tool Works公司)和Merge Healthcare(2015年以10亿美元出售给IBM)。他用这两次创业积累的资金创办了两家投资机构,进而投资了多家创业公司——包括2011年收购了《芝加哥太阳报》,自此创立了一个商业媒体帝国。2016年,他收购了论坛报业(Tribune Company)的股份,将其改名为Tronc,如今Tronc已经增长为一家收益达15.2亿美元的大公司。

就在51岁的费罗曝出性骚扰丑闻的同时,他一手打造的Tronc也在正遭遇剧烈动荡。在更大的图景上,旨在呼吁职场同权的#MeToo运动则正在席卷美国各大企业,重塑他们的企业文化。今年2月,Tronc公司同意将《洛杉矶时报》和公司旗下的其他加州媒体资产以5亿美元的价格打包出售给华裔医疗大亨陈颂雄,另外陈颂雄还将承担前者9000万美元的养老金负债。据说此次出售的幕后原因错综复杂,Tronc公司对该报报社的人事安排遭到了报社员工的激烈反对,且报社的工会运动隐隐有不受控之势,这或许是令费罗决定抛弃该报的主要原因。在此前的1月份,NPR电视台曝出《洛杉矶时报》首席执行官罗斯·莱文森涉嫌两起性骚扰案件,还称他在此前工作过的地方搞“团团伙伙”,莱文森因此被迫辞职。(莱文森在与NPR电视台CEO通电话时称这些指控都是“谎言”。不过后来Tronc公司表示,经调查,莱文森是清白的。随后为他提供了一份新工作。)仅仅几周后,《纽约每日新闻》的两位总编也因涉嫌多桩性骚扰事件而被公司解雇。他俩都是在2017年Tronc收购该报之前任职的,看来以“生活作风问题”打压异己,不论中外都是常用的。

Kathryn Minshew finally felt like a weight had lifted. It was September of 2013, and after months of back-and-forth, Michael Ferro, then-chairman of investment firm Wrapports, had at last signed a term sheet promising her career-advice startup, The Muse, the $750,000 infusion of capital it needed to make it past the end of the year. Now, at Ferro’s suggestion, the two were headed to his company’s corporate apartment in downtown Chicago for an evening of takeout and discussion of how The Muse might go on to a land a much bigger round of funding.

But once they stepped into the apartment, Ferro seemed to forget about their plans to strategize. He poured two glasses of bourbon and, giving one to Minshew, put his hand on the back of her head and pulled her face in for a kiss, she says. Although the move was forceful enough that she couldn’t pull away, she says she was able to turn her head so that Ferro’s lips landed on her cheek.

“I stopped thinking in complete thoughts. My whole body felt like ice,” recalls Minshew. “I suddenly realized that I was alone in this apartment with him and that it might not be very easy to leave.”

Less than three years later in Las Vegas during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Hagan Kappler says she found herself in a similar position—at a private dinner in Ferro’s Aria hotel suite under the pretense of doing business. Kappler, then an executive at manufacturing giant Ingersoll Rand, thought she was there to talk thermostats with Ferro, who had recently sold his healthcare startup to IBM. Instead, Kappler says he repeatedly wrapped his arms around her from behind. She told him he was in her space and that she didn’t like it. Then he did it again, this time groping her breast.

Kappler, who was nine weeks pregnant at the time, says she was plagued by nightmares and had trouble concentrating. She started working from home. “I just saw myself differently so I felt for sure everybody else did, too,” Kappler says.

Both women say they were drawn to these late night meetings by the promise of financial reward—further investment and connections for Minshew; a potential partnership and possibly even a lucrative job for Kappler. After these encounters, both described being frightened and taken by surprise, as well as fearing that their business ventures were in jeopardy.

Minshew and Kappler, who are now speaking about their experiences on the record for the first time, encountered Ferro through his work as an investor and dealmaker. But his sphere of influence and power increased over the past couple of years after he became the non-executive chairman and largest shareholder of Tronc, the publishing powerhouse that includes iconic titles like the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and the Baltimore Sun.

On last Monday, Ferro announced that he was retiring from the board of directors of Tronc, and that CEO Justin Dearborn would succeed him as chairman. Ferro will still be paid $5 million-per-year by Tronc through Dec. 31, 2020, to serve as a consultant.

Fortune reached out to Ferro last week with the details of both women’s accounts. Through a spokesman, he declined to be interviewed and did not address or dispute any of the specific allegations made by Minshew and Kappler or others in this story.

Ferro’s spokesman provided this statement to Fortune: “Over more than 20 years of leading public companies and other enterprises, Michael Ferro has never had a claim filed against him nor a settlement made on his behalf. Your on-the-record allegations appear to involve private conduct with private individuals who were not employees of tronc or any other company he ran. As recently announced, Mr. Ferro has retired back to private life after leading a financial turnaround of tronc as the non-executive chairman. There will, therefore, be no other comment.”

A serial entrepreneur, Ferro made the bulk of his fortune on a pair of digital startups—Click Commerce (sold in 2006 for $292 million to Illinois Tool Works) and Merge Healthcare (sold to IBM for $1 billion in 2015). He’s used the proceeds to fund two investment vehicles that have backed an array of businesses—including the 2011 purchase of the Chicago Sun-Times, the beginning of Ferro’s aspirations to create a media empire. In 2016, he purchased his stake in the Tribune Company and renamed it Tronc, which he’s grown into a $1.52 billion-in-revenue operation.

The accusations against Ferro, 51, emerge at a tumultuous period for Tronc—and at a moment when the #MeToo movement is reshaping corporate culture. In February, Tronc agreed to sell the Los Angeles Times and other California titles for $500 million to healthcare tycoon Patrick Soon-Shiong, who will also assume $90 million in pension liabilities. The deal came amid a backlash from the newsroom over Tronc’s efforts to install new management and quell the paper’s unionization efforts. In January, Los Angeles Times CEO and publisher Ross Levinsohn took a voluntary unpaid leave after NPR reported that he had been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and had fostered “frat house” behavior at previous workplaces. (Levinsohn called the allegations “lies” in a call with NPR’s CEO and has since been given a new job at Tronc after it said an investigation cleared him of wrongdoing.) Only a few weeks later, two New York Daily News top editors—whose tenure pre-dated Tronc’s 2017 acquisition of the paper—were fired over multiple accusations of sexual harassment.

Tronc公司前执行总裁迈克尔·费罗。来源:Patrick T. Fallon/彭博社/Getty Images

在曾与费罗共事的人看来,费罗对女性的可疑行为没什么可奇怪的。《财富》曾采访了9名在《Splash》和《Grid》杂志工作的员工,他们都是费罗当政期间进入《芝加哥太阳报》的附属媒体里工作的(2016年,费罗转手了《芝加哥太阳报》)。这些员工表示,费罗对两家杂志的参与很深,从他们描述的经历来看,女性员工在这两家杂志都工作得很不舒服。

据这些员工称,费罗经常会对女员工的衣着打扮品头论足,告诉女员工她们看起来很“性感”,或者说他喜欢她们穿短裙什么的。有一次,他甚至握着一名女员工的小腿,仔细研究她“性感”的高根鞋。他经常聘用年轻女性当自己的秘书,有些员工将这些女秘书暗讽为“费罗的天使”。

《Grid》杂志的前总编马特·普莱森特表示,费罗曾指示他,不要把杂志后面的讽刺专栏交给女性作家来写,因为费罗觉得女人没有幽默感。他说:“他的想法是,女人是用来看的,而男人就是男人。”

自从2016年担任Tronc公司董事长以来,费罗的个人形象在全美范围内有所上升。但是在他的老家芝加哥,费罗一始是一股不容忽视的力量:他是创业界的中流砥柱,媒体业的“看门人”,也是慈善圈的常客。而且他也形成了一个彻头彻尾的“玩主”形象。他的创业公司Click办公的地方,正是当年《花花公子》杂志社的办公室,费罗就坐在当年休·海夫纳的办公室里。他的生日派对也是芝加哥各路八卦媒体的年度保留节目,前来捧场的都是雅培首席执行官迈尔斯·怀特、箭牌首席执行官比尔·威格利和市长拉姆·伊曼纽尔等政商名人。据《克瑞恩芝加哥商业周刊》报道,出生于芝加哥的知名女演员珍妮·麦卡锡有一次也出现在他的生日派对上,并亲自演唱了生日歌。后来她也成了《芝加哥论坛报》的专栏作家。

明秀之前曾两次在媒体上讲过她的遭遇,只是并没有提及费罗的名字,这也是她第一次公开提到他的名字。《财富》采访了四个跟她关系比较亲近的人,她在事后就将此事告诉了她的朋友,并在电子邮件里将她的遭遇告诉了其他一些投资人。至于卡普勒,《财富》采访12个她身边的人,他们都知道了她的遭遇,也包括她当时的经理。

两个女人的故事发生的时间和地点,也正是许多商业交易成交的时间和地点,也就是朝九晚五以外的灰色地带,夜宵、酒局等等都是职场潜规则的高发地。它是一个更难驾驭、更加复杂、更少规则的地方,也是一个几十年来基本上不欢迎女人的地方。

当今时代,商业的机遇和网络日渐变得更加包容,但是当面临签不下客户、拉不来投资的艰难时刻,女性仍然处在一个不公平的地位。打进“老男孩”圈子的女人们,必须时不时掂量一系列问题,而这些问题永远不会发生在他们的男同事身上——我该如何回应那些具有性暗示的话?他会不会以为我们在约会呢?这个男人真的相信我的公司吗,还是他只想跟我啪啪啪?

如果拒绝了“潜规则”,女人们可能就会与关系、贵人、资本这种商业世界里最重要的东西无缘了。而要想获得关系、贵人和资本的垂青,女人又可能遭遇男人的另眼相待,甚至是骚扰乃至袭击。因此不管女人的选择是什么,在商界打拼的女人都面临内生的风险。这就是明秀和卡普勒面对费罗时的两难处境。结果她们俩的信心都因此事遭到了动摇,甚至开始怀疑自己和自己的判断力。

明秀和卡普勒互相并不认识,不过现在,她们却是因为同样的原因而想公开说出自己的故事。明秀表示:“很大一部分原因是,我意识到,做这种事的人永远不会只做一次,每次都会有新的人遭遇这种事,而我可以阻止这种事发生在她们身上。”

卡普勒表示,她希望自己的故事能让其他女性产生警醒,从而使她们避免遇到跟自己相同的遭遇。“我以前以为这种事永远不会发生在我身上,我觉得认识我的人也不会想到这种事会发生在我身上。”

The Muse现在已经是一家相当成功的公司了,年用户达到5000万人,总融资额近3000万美元。但2012年的时候,它只是一家平平无奇的创业公司,就连相对小额的融资也经常拉不到。对于当时年仅26岁的明秀来说,她当时只希望投资人把她当作一个严肃的创业人来对待,为她投资。

那年7月,明秀在一次会议上认识了迈克尔·费罗,他貌似这是这种投资人。在他们偶然认识的几周后,费罗同意加入该公司120万美元的种子轮融资,其他参投的还有Great Oaks Ventures投资公司、戈登·克劳福德、凯茜·布莱克等风投公司和投资人。费罗投资了10万美元,这也使他成为The Muse最大的投资人之一。明秀当时在纽约工作,她一到芝加哥就找机会与费罗见面,在费罗的建议下,她也登上了几回他旗下的报刊。

2013年5月,有一次她和费罗一起在芝加哥吃午饭。明秀提出了她目前的窘境——The Muse公司想要进行A轮融资,但她对投资人给出的融资邀约并不满意,但她也不想公司被收购。费罗表示他有办法,他的Wrapports公司可以额外为The Muse注入种子投资,这样The Muse就可以稍晚一些再进行A轮融资,同时融资规模也将大得多。她回忆道:“我当时想:‘我的天,那样就太完美了。’我觉得,这个人看起来真的很信任我。”

Wrapports是费罗创办的两家投资公司之一,不过这笔投资并没有及时到位。随着夏天渐渐过去,明秀越来越沮丧和焦急,她知道现有资金最多只能撑到年底。最后Wrapports公司终于签了风投协议,2013年9月18日,明秀飞到芝加哥谈最终的交易细节。会后,她给另一位创始人艾利克斯·卡沃拉克斯得意地打电话道:“我们搞定了,交易通过了。”

交易完成后,费罗提议到,她应该跟他去附近的一家餐馆与他们的朋友们喝点酒。“他明确表示,这些人都很有钱,都是有权有势的人。”然后他俩可以去公司的公寓,叫点外卖,然后“聊聊生意的事”。费罗也告诉明秀,那套公寓当晚没有别人,并且邀请她留宿在那里。他还善解人意地表示,The Muse还处于创业阶段,能省点是点。

走进公寓楼后,明秀感到一丝不安。“我想:‘噢天哪,这太古怪了,我才27岁,而且我现在跟这个男的在一起。’”转念又想,自己已经见过他的妻子了,他也知道自己有男朋友,而且他刚刚给自己的公司投了75万美元,说明他看上的是自己的创业能力。于是她告诉自己:“这没什么奇怪的,这是看起来奇怪,没事的,没事的。”

但当他们进入房间后,事态的发展显然表示,这个晚上注定不会“没事”。明秀正在透过落地窗俯瞰城市的地平线时,费罗端着两杯波本酒走了过来。然后他将手放在了她的脑后,试图将她拉过来强吻。

“仿佛全世界都冻住了,”她回忆那一刻道:“我觉得深深的恐惧,一方面是担心我的人身安全,更多的则是担心,如果我不能完美地控制事态,这笔对公司极为重要的交易就将毁了。”

明秀挣脱开了,说道:“我不是那种脚踩两只船的女人。”费罗向后坐下了,上下打量着她,说道:“幸亏我没把你带到餐厅去,否则人们还觉得咱们睡在一起了,而事实上没有。我宁可希望跟你睡觉,而大家都不认识你。”不过他倒是没有再碰她。

明秀回忆道,在她明确表示拒绝后,费罗似乎对她失去了兴趣。他跟她讲起了他们之前喝酒时认识的一个投资人的事,他说这人就在楼下,想跟她吃顿饭,谈谈The Muse公司的事。她趁着这个机会离开了公寓。

饭后,她一个人回到了终于空空荡荡的公寓,再次给公司的另一名创始人打了电话,但这次内容却完全不一样了:“交易完全达成了吗?我也不知道了。”由于担心公寓里安装了窃听器或者隐藏的摄像头,她只是简单对卡沃拉克斯表示,这里发生了一些不好的事,但具体细节她直到第二天下午返回纽约后才告诉了卡沃拉克斯。那一晚她是和衣而睡的。

《财富》采访了卡沃拉克斯,他也确认了明秀的话。她还将这段经历告诉了另外三人,他们也在采访中证实了此事。来往邮件记录也证实,明秀通过电子邮件告知了公司的13名早期投资人,称一位领投的投资人对她做出了“极为不当的语言和肢体行为”。在一封邮件中,明秀还提到了费罗的名字。

回到纽约后,明秀有好几天都在恍恍惚惚中度过,“完全是魂不附体的状态”。由于企业处于生死存亡之际,明秀已经没有时间慢慢消化这段遭遇了,她和卡沃拉克斯必须解决The Muse的生存问题——费罗的钱还算数吗?如果算数,我们还用他的钱吗?二人花了几个小时时间,针对可能出现的场景制定预案,明秀甚至打算不再住现在的房子,搬到另一名创始人的沙发上住。“我们甚至还列出了一张打算裁掉的员工名单,打算在不得以时遣散他们。”

他们决定“放慢”履行Wrapports公司的风投协议,先抓紧看看能不能从其他地方拉来融资。虽然协议已经签了,Wrapports也没有撤资的意思,但也基本没有任何动作去推进协议的落实。最终,明秀和卡沃拉克斯找到了其他投资人,在两个月里拉来了75万美元的投资。明秀飞到芝加哥与费罗谈的这笔投资最终悄悄地不了了之了。

2015年4月,The Muse开始准备下一轮融资,此事需要包括Wrapports在内的所有种子投资人同意(Wrapports至今仍是The Muse的投资方)。为此,卡沃拉克斯给费罗打了个电话,当时明秀也在场。明秀表示,费罗在电话中还提到之前没有了下文的那次投资。“他说:‘对啊,当时我们不是说要追加投资的吗,怎么就没有追加呢?’”

哈根·卡普勒原本不想以这种方式首次在《财富》杂志露面的。

卡普勒拥有弗吉尼亚大学达顿商学院的MBA学位,曾供职于麦肯锡、星巴克、高盛、联合技术,她的简历是任何猎头都眼红的那种。37岁时,她已经当上了英格索兰公司的高管,这家公司是一家市值达142亿美元的跨国制造公司。

然后她遇见了迈克尔·费罗。此后的很长一段时间里,她的生命仿佛分成了两段——2016年1月5日之前的她,和那一天之后的她。

以下是她回忆2015年9月至2016年1月她与费罗的互动。她和费罗每次有过交集之后,都把经历叙述给了她的丈夫、弟弟、父亲和经理,他们也都接受了《财富》的采访。她也把这件事讲给了五个好友、一位律师、她的妇产医生和一位心理医生,只不过详细程度略有不同。他们也都接受了《财富》的采访。

卡普勒是在2015年9月第一次遇见费罗的。英格索兰公司让卡普勒制定一个数字战略,她弟弟曾经与费罗有交情,便建议卡普勒与他联系。当时费罗刚刚同意将他的医疗创业公司Merge以10亿美元出售给IBM,貌似对卡普勒所关注的领域有颇深的见解。于是她提出与费罗会面,便飞到了芝加哥。

他俩在《芝加哥太阳报》的办公大楼里谈了两个小时。卡普勒回忆道,费罗从脱衣舞娘谈到了妓女,又说他认为科技行业的女性应该超前一些,学会通过外表和性别来获得成功。他对卡普勒又是赞美又是批评,告诉她她很有吸引力,但需要好好打扮一下自己。他让卡普勒把简历发给她,同时别忘了附上照片。

不过在谈话期间,费罗也是表现出了一些真知酌见的,并且给卡普勒指了几条路。最吸引人的,就是费罗表示他可以从中牵线,让英格索兰公司与IBM建立合作。费罗还表示,自己也可以给她提供一份工作,这次谈话也可以看作一次面试,她可以来当他的员工总监,或者他的私募公司Merrick Ventures的CEO,这两份工作的薪水都是很高的。他还表示自己喜欢她的长相、履历以及她守口如瓶的性格,这些都对他的公司有帮助。

第二天,卡普勒将她与费罗见面的情况报告了她当时的经理迪恩·佩尔松。她表示,她从没想到自己能像这样子被人同时奉承和羞辱。佩尔松告诉她,费罗不像是那种她会喜欢与之共事的人。他表示:“她似乎意识到了这一点,不过他给出的价码很诱人,对她来说显得非常重要。”

这次交集对卡普勒的心理产生了很大的影响。她当时认为,这简直是她职业生涯最重要的一次会面。“我以前工作的环境都是那些很安全、很好、很有保护性的公司,然而突然之间,有人告诉我,女人应该是……”她的声音变小了:“虽然听起来似乎很荒唐,但我想,他说的或许有些道理。”于是她给费罗发去了自己的简历,也附上了自己的大头证件照。

在第一次会面之后,卡普勒与费罗又发了几封邮件,打了几次电话,她还邀请费罗担任她为英格索兰的领导力峰会组织的一次创新大赛的评委。2015年12月21日,她飞到芝加哥与费罗再次会面,这次她还带上了佩尔松。她希望由另一位英格索兰的高管出面,以确保费罗的确适合担任这次比赛的评委。

会面一开始,费罗就说,他老婆问他为什么圣诞节期间还要待在公司,他则回答他老婆道,显然是因为他跟卡普勒有一腿喽!佩尔松回忆道,当时他还顺着费罗的玩笑奉承了几句。“我看到了一些迹象,但没有阻止,现在想来,我感觉非常难受。”

不过费罗再一次展示了一些真知酌见。比如他建议成立一个单独的商业实体,将IBM的Watson部门和英格索兰的恒温器业务联合起来。佩尔松建议道,卡普勒可以负责运营这个部门。费罗表示,那样的话,她需要好好打扮一下自己了。当晚卡普勒打电话给费罗跟进此事,费罗开玩笑道,他花了好大的力气才控制住自己,没有在她老板面前性骚扰她。在后来的一次电话中,他们计划在消费电子展上见面,在此之前,卡普勒需要收集一些恒温器市场的数据,然后他们再一起充实这个点子。“他还告诉我,既然要去拉斯维加斯,就要穿得应景些。”卡普勒回忆道。

2016年1月5日,也就是卡普勒要起程去拉斯维加斯那天,费罗在晚上6点半给她打来电话,问她人在哪里。但是她的航班延误了,所以她建议再期再约。费罗则表示,他专程赶到拉斯维加斯与她见面,不想再拖了。飞机起飞前十分钟,卡普勒给他发了条短信。费罗回短信道,他已经喝了两轮酒了。飞机降落后,他们又发了几条短信。卡普勒问现在见面是不是太晚了,费罗则表示他现在正在赌场里,稍后他们可以在他的套房里吃夜宵。

在此之后,费罗给她打了六次电话,问她在哪里、什么时候到。“我一直说,现在太晚了。而他坚持当晚就要见我。”她回忆道,在去酒店的路上,她也觉得有些不对,但最终还是认为自己有能力控制场面。

大约晚上10点半,她到达了费罗所在的Aria酒店,费罗将她接到了自己的套房里。他们一进屋,费罗就调暗了灯光,并且表示,自己等了她这么长时间,作为报答,她必须跟自己喝几杯。卡普勒并不想告诉他自己已经怀孕9周了,于是她假装抿了几口他倒的红酒。

卡普勒谈了谈恒温器市场的情况,费罗问了几个问题,但明显心不在焉。他对她的衣着评判了一番,然后问她“有没有干过坏事”。她回答没有,然后试图将话题引回到生意上。这时费罗走到坐在迷你吧台边的卡普勒身后,伸臂抱住了她。她挣开了,他又开始揉搓她的肩膀。很快,他又伸臂抱向了她。她再次挣开之后,费罗抓住了她的手。

卡普勒再次想把话题引回到生意上。费罗问她,他们什么时候才能不谈生意,好一起做点有趣的事。她告诉费罗,她这趟是为了工作来的,否则她讨厌跟家人分开。这时费罗又想搂她,这次他正面抱住了她,问她为什么这么害羞。她对费罗说,他是在侵犯她,而她并不喜欢这样。

就在这时,客房服务员进来了。手足无措的卡普勒从椅子上站了起来,在迷你吧台上给自己倒了杯水。突然费罗又跟到了自己身后,伸手搂住了她,将手按在了她的胸部上。卡普勒说到,现在我们有目击证人了——她指的就是那名服务员。但费罗告诉她,在拉斯维加斯,没有人会看见任何东西。

卡普勒再次躲开了,这时费罗大概意识到她不会妥协了,于是他开始无视她的存在,甚至在手机上玩起了扑克游戏。费罗告诉她,刚才他的朋友在赌场里问他还回不回来,他答道:“我能玩她,还玩什么扑克?”

接下来他们坐下来一起吃饭。在吃饭的过程中,费罗说道,他一直在帮助卡普勒,没有索取任何回报。他还表示自己为卡普勒准备了一顿丰盛的宵夜,还点了菜单上最贵的酒。卡普勒不敢激怒费罗,只能唯唯喏喏扮演一个学生的角色。费罗还说,她也不需要真的陪人睡觉,但她也需要学会跟男人调情和“吃鸡”。当时,卡普勒觉得自己很难从那个地方离开。“我觉得自己有义务陪他吃这顿饭,他都说了,他没有向我索取任何回报。”

到了半夜,费罗表示第二天要早起,只能让她离开了。他还说,希望这周哪天她喝醉了之后给他打电话。卡普勒离开之后,心中暗想,自己永远也不会把今晚发生的事告诉任何人。

但第二天早上洗澡的时候,她忍不住哭了起来。她给佩尔松发了条短信,告诉他费罗无法参加领导力峰会。佩尔松回短信表示没问题,并问她现在还好吗。“我意识到肯定是出事了。”佩尔松表示。卡普勒昏昏沉沉地参观了消费电子展,唯恐自己又撞见费罗。

回到办公室那天,她对佩尔松讲述起那晚的经历时,忍不住又哭了起来。“我几乎说不出口。”她说。之后的几天,他们商量着如何应对此事。(英格索兰公司的一位女发言人在声明中对《财富》表示:“任何形式的性骚扰都与我们的政策和公司价值不符,我们对此是非常严肃的。”)

佩尔松给费罗写了一封信,取消了对他的邀请,并且切断了与他的联系。费罗马上给卡普勒发了一条短信和一条语音消息,说他接到了她老板发来的一封奇怪的信,问她是否一切都好。佩尔松随后再次致信费罗,告诉他不要再联络卡普勒了。此后费罗也确实没有联系过她。

四年多过去了,明秀仍能清楚地记起她离开芝加哥的那间公寓时的屈辱感。她说:“这种感觉从来没有完全停止。”这次经历让她开始怀疑自己和自己的判断。很长一段时间里,她都很难与某种类型的男人建立信任和业务关系。她对参加任何小型私人聚会都很谨慎,尽管她明知很多重要关系和交易就是在那里完成的。卡普勒倒是还保持了交际能力,但她参加完会议后就会径直返回自己的房间,而不是留下跟别人交际。

明秀表示,与其他女性谈及这段经历,对她是有帮助的,这样也让她知道,很多女性也拥有与她类似的遭遇。当时,她并不觉得公开点出费罗的名字是可行的选择。“四年前,我以为如果我公开暴露他的名字,我就会完全被排除在任何风投家的视线之外。”

她之所以现在改变了心态,是因为她觉得这样做才是转变的开始。“要问我是否认为风投界已经充分抵制了潜规则,当然不是。但也有相当一部分投资人在真心致力于解决这个问题,其中一部分投资人还是相当有实力的,而且他们已经开始形成一些实际的影响。”

卡普勒在遭遇费罗之后,内心挣扎了很长时间。她表示,从拉斯维加斯返回的那个周末,她做了恶梦,有一次甚至吓到了她丈夫。那个周末她大部分时间是在床上度过的,甚至无法照顾自己的两个孩子。由于羞于让人见到自己的孕肚,她开始在家里工作。她不想让自己被人看作一个有性特征的人。

“这件事改变了我的一些。”她表示。像明秀一样,她也感到羞辱。“如果我看过这样一部电影,看见有个女人被这样对待,我可能会说:‘赶紧从那个办公室离开,不要再给他打电话了。’我觉得这一切都是我自己的错。”

心理治疗和时间渐渐抚平了她的伤痛。她在原公司获得了升职,最近还接受了一份新工作,在一家新公司负责数字创新。

她现在已经怀上了第四个孩子。“我一直觉得好像还没准备好,但现在我准备好了,我变得更强大了。”

在拉斯维加斯那件事后一周左右,卡普勒见了一名律师,讨论她可以做的选择。当时她详细记录了与费罗的互动,但她担心此事捅出去,会给她的事业乃至家庭造成负面影响。但现在,她担心如果自己继续保持沉默,将会有其他女性遭遇危险。当然,她也不希望大家一提到她,想起的只有这件事。

明秀认为,费罗之所以要做这种事,仅仅是因为他可以。“而我对此则无能为力。有些性骚扰和反女性人格的行为,其实是在提醒女性可以做什么、不可以做什么,其意义其实大于性爱本身。”

而费罗给她的感觉则相当目空一切。“他好像根本不在乎我,也不在乎情况。”明秀表示:“他只是想看我是否愿意跟他睡觉。对我来说,我的公司、我的14名员工,乃至我的整个事业的命运都系在他身上。而对他来说,这些都不值一提。”(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎 

Allegations of questionable behavior by Ferro come as little surprise to some who previously worked with him in his media ventures. Fortune spoke with nine former staffers at the magazines Splash and Grid, who were employed by the Sun-Timespublications during Ferro’s ownership of the paper (Ferro ceded control of the Sun-Times in 2016). These former employees say Ferro was heavily involved with both magazines and the encounters they describe with him suggest an uncomfortable workplace for women.

Ferro would regularly make sexual comments about women’s clothing and appearances, the former employees say, telling female staffers they looked “hot” or that he liked it when they wore short skirts. He once grabbed the bottom of a woman’s leg to more closely examine what he described as her “sexy” high heels. And he hired young women as his assistants—dubbed “Ferro’s Angels” by some employees.

Matt Present, the former editor of Grid, says Ferro instructed him to stop assigning the satire column in the back of the magazine to female writers because Ferro didn’t think women were funny. “He operates under the assumption that women are meant to be looked at, that boys will be boys,” says Present.

Ferro has seen his profile rise nationally since taking over as chairman of Tronc in 2016. But in his home city of Chicago he’s long been a force: a mainstay of the startup community, a media gatekeeper, and a regular on the benefit circuit. He has cultivated an image as a player—in every sense of the word. His startup Click occupied the same space in the Palmolive building that once housed Playboy Enterprises, with Ferro holding court in Hugh Hefner’s old office. His mostly all-male birthday parties are an annual fixture of the Chicago gossip pages, drawing boldfaced names including Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White, former Wrigley CEO Bill “Beau” Wrigley, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Crain’s Chicago Business has reported that actress Jenny McCarthy, a Chicago-area native who Ferro made a Sun-Times columnist, once showed up to sing him happy birthday.

Minshew has told her story twice previously in the media without mentioning Ferro. This is the first time she has named him publicly. Fortune talked to four people close to Minshew, whom she told in the immediate aftermath of her encounter, and reviewed emails in which she relayed the story to investors. In the case of Kappler, Fortune spoke to 12 people to whom she has described her experience with Ferro, including her manager at the time.

Both women’s stories unfold where so much of business and deal-making takes place: that murky area outside the 9-to-5 that includes late-night dinners and after-work drinks. It is an arena that is more difficult to navigate, more complicated, and has fewer rules—and one that, for decades, largely excluded women.

These venues and networks are gradually becoming more inclusive, but while women are now venturing into the rooms where alliances are struck and money is promised, that doesn’t mean they stand on equal ground. Women who infiltrate the old boys network must often weigh a set of questions that would never occur to their male counterparts: How do I respond to that suggestive remark? Could he think this is a date? Does this man really believe in my business—or does he just want to have sex with me?

To reject this treacherous terrain closes women off from so much of what really drives the world of business—connections, mentorship, capital. Yet to enter it opens them up to the possibility of unwanted attention, harassment, and even assault. There is inherent risk no matter the decision. This was the calculation that Minshew and Kappler faced in their encounters with Ferro. Both ended up with their confidence rocked, doubting themselves and their judgment.

Minshew and Kappler have never met but both voiced similar reasons for wanting to come forward with their stories now. “A big piece of it was the realization that people who do this never just do this once,” Minshew says, “and every time it happens to a new person, I could have prevented that.”

Kappler says she’s committed to helping women so they don’t have to experience what she went through. “I didn’t think this could ever happen to someone like me,” she says. “I don’t think people who know me would assume something like this would happen to me.”

The Muse is now an established company, with 50 million annual users and a fundraising total of nearly $30 million. But in 2012 it was just another young startup, and trying, and often failing, to raise relatively small amounts of capital. What Minshew, then 26 years old, really wanted was to be treated—and funded—like a serious entrepreneur.

Michael Ferro, whom she first encountered at a conference in July of that year, seemed to offer just that. Weeks after their chance meeting, Ferro agreed to join the company’s $1.2 million seed round, which also included Great Oaks Ventures, Gordon Crawford, and Cathie Black. He invested $100,000, making him one of The Muse’s largest funders. Minshew, who is based in New York City, says she began making an effort to meet with Ferro whenever she was in Chicago and, at his suggestion, appeared in several of his publications.

In May of 2013, she and Ferro met for lunch while she was in town. Minshew presented him with her current quandary: She was unsatisfied with the funding offers she’d received while attempting to raise a Series A, but she also didn’t want to be acquired. She says Ferro had a solution. Wrapports would invest additional seed money in the company, setting it up to put together a bigger, splashier round later. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, that would be perfect,’ ” she recalls. “In my mind, it was like, this guy really seems to believe in me.”

But the deal, which Ferro was running through Wrapports—one of the two investment firms he’s founded— dragged. Minshew grew increasingly frustrated as the summer months slipped by, all too aware that her company was on track to run out of funding by the end of the year. Finally, Wrapports signed the term sheet, and on Sept. 18, 2013, Minshew flew to Chicago to work out the final details. After the meeting, she called her co-founder Alex Cavoulacos, triumphant: “We’re all set. The deal’s going through.”

Deal done, Minshew says Ferro proposed a plan for the evening: she should join him for drinks with a group of his friends at a nearby restaurant—“He very much made it clear that these are big money guys, power players”—and then the two of them would go to his company’s corporate apartment, where they would order dinner and, as Minshew describes it, “really jam—just get into the business.” Ferro also told Minshew that the apartment would be empty that night, and invited her to stay there, knowing that The Muse was in startup mode, saving money wherever it could.

Walking into the apartment building, Minshew remembers feeling the first pangs of uncertainty. “I thought, ‘Oh man, this looks weird. I’m 27 and I’m with this guy.’” But she reminded herself that she’d met his wife, that he knew she was in a relationship—and that he’d just bet $750,000 on her skill as an entrepreneur. “It’s not weird, it just looks weird,” she told herself. “It’s fine. It’s fine.”

But when they entered the apartment, she says, it quickly became clear to her that it was not, in fact, fine. Minshew recalls looking out at the city skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows when Ferro approached her bearing the glasses of bourbon. That’s when she says he forcefully placed his hand on the back of her head and tried to kiss her.

“My whole world froze,” she says of that moment. “I felt fear—partially for my physical safety, but mostly the fear that if I didn’t handle this encounter exactly perfectly, it would ruin this deal that was so important to the business.”

Minshew pulled away, saying, “I’m a one man at a time kind of girl.” She recalls Ferro stepping back and taking a seat. She says he looked her up and down, saying: “I’m glad I didn’t take you to a restaurant, because people would think we’re sleeping together and we’re not. I’d much rather actually be having sex with you and have no one know it.” But he didn’t try to touch her again.

According to Minshew, Ferro seemed to lose interest in the face of her rejection. He told her that one of the men she’d met at drinks earlier, a prominent Chicago investor, was downstairs and would like to have dinner with her and talk more about The Muse. She jumped at the chance to get out of the apartment.

After dinner, she returned to the now vacant apartment, and once again called her co-founder, this time with very different news: “The deal that was totally on? I don’t know if it’s on.” Worried that the apartment might be bugged or that there could be a hidden camera, she told Cavoulacos that something bad had happened, but didn’t share the full details until she was back in New York the following afternoon. That night, she says she slept in her clothes.

Fortune spoke to Cavoulacos, who confirms the account. We also talked with three other people Minshew told about the encounter in the days and weeks following her trip to Chicago and reviewed emails in which she told at least 13 of the company’s early investors about an incident with a lead investor who made “extremely inappropriate verbal and physical advances.” In one case, Minshew followed up, naming Ferro.

Back in New York, she spent a couple of days in a fog, “completely disassociated from myself.” But with her business in peril, there was no time to fully process what had happened—instead, she and Cavoulacos had to address what were for The Muse a pair of urgent and existential questions: Was Ferro’s money still on the table, and if so, would they need to take it? The co-founders spent hours gaming out possible scenarios, including one where Minshew gave up her apartment and moved onto her co-founders couch. “We made a list of our employees in the order that we would have to let them go,” Minshew says.

They decided to “slow roll” the Wrapports deal and scramble to see if they could find funding elsewhere. Despite the fact that there was a signed term sheet on the line, Wrapports did not appear to object, doing little to move the agreement forward. Minshew and Cavoulacos were able to find replacement investors, raising $750,000 in less than two months. The deal Minshew had flown to Chicago to close quietly evaporated.

In April of 2015, The Muse was preparing for its next round of funding, which required the founders get sign-off from their largest seed investors—including Wrapports. (Wrapports remains an investor in The Muse today.) Cavoulacos made the call, with Minshew in the room. Ferro took the opportunity to raise the specter of the previous deal. “He was like, ‘Yeah, weren’t we going to invest more?’” recalls Minshew. “’Why didn’t that ever happen?’”

This is not how Hagan Kappler was supposed to make her debut in Fortune.

The Williams alumna with an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School had the kind of resume headhunters yearn for: McKinsey, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, United Technologies. At the age of 37 she was already an executive at Ingersoll Rand, a $14.2 billion global manufacturing multinational.

But then she met Michael Ferro and for a long time after that her life would feel like it had been divided into two—the Hagan Kappler before the night of Jan. 5, 2016, and the one the day after.

The following is Kappler’s account of her interactions with Ferro between September 2015 and January 2016. She recounted the events to her husband, brother, father, and manager in the immediate aftermath of each encounter with Ferro—all of whom spoke to Fortune. She also told at least five close friends, a lawyer, her obstetrician, and a therapist about what she says happened in that Las Vegas hotel suite in varying degrees of detail. All of them also spoke to Fortune.

Kappler first encountered Ferro in September 2015. Ingersoll Rand had tasked Kappler with creating a digital strategy, and her brother, who had interacted with Ferro, suggested they connect. Ferro had just agreed to sell his healthcare startup Merge to IBM for $1 billion and appeared to have good ideas in the realm of what Kappler was trying to build for her company. She asked for a meeting and flew out to Chicago to see Ferro.

Over the course of that initial two-hour meeting in the Chicago Sun-Times building, Kappler says Ferro talked about topics ranging from strippers and prostitutes to his beliefs that women in technology have to get ahead by using their looks and sexuality. He mixed compliments with criticisms, telling her she was attractive but that she also needed a makeover. She says he asked that she send him her resume, and told her that she should always include her photo.

But during the meeting Ferro also had real ideas and leads for Kappler—the most promising being a partnership between Ingersoll Rand and IBM that he said he could broker. Kappler says Ferro also raised the possibility of hiring her himself, and at the end of the meeting he told her that the discussion had been his way of interviewing her to be either his personal chief of staff or the CEO of his private equity firm Merrick Ventures—roles that would come with big salaries. He said he liked her looks, as well as her credentials and that she was buttoned up, something that would help give his operation more credibility.

The next day, Kappler reported back to her then-manager, Dion Persson, telling him that she didn’t know it was possible to be both so flattered and insulted at the same time. Persson remembers telling her that he didn’t seem like the type of guy you want to work with. “She kind of realized that,” he says, “but he was offering so much that it became very important to her.”

The interaction with Ferro left a mark on Kappler—she remembers thinking it was one of the most influential meetings of her career. “I’d been in these very safe, nice companies, protective wonderful places and suddenly I’m thinking I didn’t know that women are supposed to…” she trails off. “It sounds ridiculous, but I thought maybe there was something to that.” She ended up sending Ferro her resume—professional headshot included.

Kappler and Ferro exchanged a few emails and phone calls after that initial meeting, and she invited him to be a judge at an innovation competition she was organizing for Ingersoll Rand’s leadership conference. On Dec. 21, 2015, she flew to Chicago to meet with Ferro again, this time bringing along Persson—Kappler had wanted someone else from Ingersoll Rand to make sure Ferro would be appropriate for the conference.

Ferro started this meeting by saying that his wife had asked why he was going into the office the week of Christmas. Kappler and Persson say he recounted that he had told his wife that obviously it was because he was having an affair with Kappler. Persson told Fortune that some of the references Ferro made during the meeting, including that one, made him cringe. “I saw some of these signs and I didn’t stop it,” Persson says, “and I still feel horrible about it.”

But again Ferro shared some compelling ideas, including creating a separate entity that partnered IBM’s Watson with Ingersoll Rand’s thermostat business. Persson suggested that Kappler run it, and Ferro said in that case she would need a makeover. In a follow up phone call with Kappler the next night, Ferro joked that he had done a good job not sexually harassing her too much in front of her boss. On a later call, they planned to meet up at the Consumer Electronics Show; Kappler would gather data on the thermostat market and together they would flesh out the business idea. “He told me to remember it was Vegas and dress like it,” Kappler recalls.

On Jan. 5, 2016, the day Kappler was scheduled to arrive in Vegas, Kappler says Ferro called her at about 6:30 p.m. and asked where she was. Her flight was delayed, and she suggested that they meet another time. Ferro pushed back, saying he had come to Vegas that day specifically to meet with her and he didn’t want to delay it. Kappler texted him when her plane was about 10 minutes away from wheels up. She says he texted back that she was about two rounds of drinks behind him. They exchanged a few text messages after she landed—Kappler asking if it was too late to meet, Ferro telling her he was in the high roller room and that they should have a late dinner in his suite.

According to Kappler, Ferro called her six times after that, asking where she was and when she would be there. “I kept saying I think it’s too late and he kept insisting he wanted to meet that night,” she says. On the way there, she remembers thinking it didn’t feel right but decided she’d be able power through it.

She arrived at the Aria at around 10:30 p.m. and Ferro met her to head up to his suite. Kappler says Ferro dimmed the lights when they arrived, and that he insisted she have a drink with him since he’d been waiting for her for such a long time. Kappler did not want to tell him that she was nine weeks pregnant, so she pretended to sip a glass of red wine that he poured her from the minibar.

Kappler started to relay some of the details of the thermostat market, and Ferro asked a few questions but didn’t really engage. He commented on her outfit and asked her if she had ever done anything bad—she told him no and tried to get the conversation back to business. That’s when he first came up behind Kappler, who was sitting at the bar, and put his arms around her, she says. She squirmed away and he started rubbing her shoulders. According to Kappler, he soon tried to wrap his arms around her again, and this time after she wriggled free he held onto her hand.

Kappler again tried to get the conversation back on track. She says Ferro asked when they would be done talking about business so they could start having some fun. She told him she had come to work and that she hated being away from her family. Kappler says Ferro tried to embrace her again, this time from the side and asked why she was being shy. She told him he was in her space, and that she didn’t like it.

At that point, room service arrived and, not knowing what else to do, Kappler got up from her chair. She poured herself a glass of water from the bar, and then suddenly Ferro was behind her again. She says he put his arms around her and then his hand was on her breast. She remembers saying that now they had a witness—referring to the man from room service who was setting up the table. Kappler says Ferro told her that no one sees anything in Vegas.

She walked away, and at this point she believes it sunk in for Ferro that she was not going to acquiesce. He started ignoring her and playing poker on his phone. According to Kappler, Ferro told her that his friends down in the high roller room had asked if he was going to come back and that he had told them, “Why would I play poker when I can poke her?”

They sat down to eat, and over dinner Ferro made a point to say he had been helping Kappler and hadn’t asked for anything in return. He added, she says, that he’d ordered her a nice dinner and the nicest bottle of wine on the menu. Kappler remembers trying to keep it light and play the role of the mentee. Kappler says Ferro told her that she didn’t need to sleep with people, but she did need to flirt and “suck dick.” In the moment, she didn’t feel like she could get up and leave. “I felt obligated to have this dinner with him,” she says. “He had made that comment that he had never asked for anything from me.”

At around midnight, Ferro said he had to get up early the next morning and was going to have to kick her out. Kappler says he told her that he hoped she’d be out and drunk later in the week and call him. After she left, she remembers thinking she would never tell anyone about what happened in that hotel suite.

But the next morning in the shower she couldn’t stop crying. She texted Persson and told him Ferro couldn’t go to the leadership conference. Persson wrote back that it was no problem and that he hoped she was alright. “I just knew something had happened,” Persson says. Kappler walked around CES in a daze, afraid that she was going to bump into Ferro.

The day she got back to the office, she cried when she told Persson what had happened. “I could barely spit it out,” she says. In the days after, they strategized what to do. (An Ingersoll Rand spokeswoman said in a statement to Fortune, “Sexual misconduct of any kind is inconsistent with our policies and company values. We take it seriously.”)

Persson wrote a letter to Ferro, disinviting him to the conference and cutting off ties. Ferro immediately sent Kappler a text and left her a voicemail, telling her he had gotten a strange letter from her boss and asking if everything was okay. Persson then followed up with another letter, this time telling Ferro to never contact Kappler again. He never did.

More than four years later, Minshew still vividly recalls the shame and humiliation she felt leaving the Chicago apartment. “Those feelings have not completely stopped,” she admits. The experience led her to doubt herself and question her judgment. For a time, it also compromised her ability to form trusting business relationships with certain types of men. She tends to be cautious about attending small private gatherings—despite knowing that that’s where important networking and dealmaking often gets done. Kappler can relate; when she attends conferences she now heads straight back to her room rather than socialize at happy hours.

Minshew says talking about her experience with other women helped—and revealed just how many women have a similar story. Yet at the time, she didn’t feel like publicly naming Ferro was a real option. “Four years ago, I felt like I would completely be closed out of any venture capital if investors saw me as someone who named names.”

She’s coming forward now because she believes that’s beginning to change. Says Minshew: “Do I think the venture community now is fully embracing this? No. But there is a substantial minority of investors who are genuinely committed to resolving the issue and some of them are powerful enough that they’re starting to have real impact.”

Kappler really struggled after her encounter with Ferro. She says she had nightmares the weekend after she returned from Las Vegas and at one point woke up terrified of her husband. She spent most of the weekend in bed and couldn’t help with her two little kids. She started working from home, ashamed of her pregnant belly. She did not want to be seen as a sexual person.

“It just changed everything for me,” she says. Like Minshew, she felt shame. “If I had been watching this movie and seeing this woman being treated like this, I would have been like, ‘Get out of that office. Don’t call him back,’ ” she says. “I felt like it was my fault.”

Therapy helped Kappler, and so did time. She moved up the ranks at work and recently accepted a job to run digital innovation at a new company.

She’s now pregnant with her fourth child. “I just felt like I was unprepared for the situation, and now I’m prepared,” she says. “I’m stronger now.”

Kappler met with a lawyer a week after the Las Vegas meeting to discuss her options—the point when she started documenting her encounters with Ferro in detail—but she worried about the ramifications for her career and family of speaking out. Now she also fears that staying silent will put other women at risk. And yet she does not want this to be all she is known for in her career, she says.

Minshew thinks that Ferro did what he did simply because he could. “And I couldn’t really do anything about it,” she says. “There are some acts of misogyny and harassment that are just as much about reminding women what they can and can’t do than they are about sex.”

To her it felt incredibly cavalier. “Like he didn’t even care so much about me or about the situation,” says Minshew. “He was just going to see if I would have sex with him. But it was my company and the fate of 14 employees or so was hanging in the balance, as well as my career to some extent. And to him it was just worth a pass.”

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