UPDATE (April 7, 2022): Ben Di Gugliemo has removed his post from Quora.
“I was raped.”
This was a remark Cal Coast News co-founder Karen Velie screamed to my former employer in 2014 over the phone, which I overheard. I remember how strange it was for her to say that since she made this revelation immediately and randomly after falsely accusing me and my father of “hurting” her. Velie may have referred to a traumatic event that happened to her years before I criticized her reporting over — what else? — making lots of questionable allegations and claiming said allegations originated from anonymous sources. Or maybe she was invoking the “rape” allegation as a way to shock my employer into firing me over my criticism, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Either way, her allegation was shocking and it gave my employer and I pause.
It was a truly bizarre moment in time. As crazy as that experience was, I wasn’t going to speculate publicly on Velie’s rape allegation and spend any time showing deference to whoever was being accused. Context was lacking. There were no specifics. I knew absolutely nothing and was more than content to put that sensitive matter aside. Why? I couldn’t just say, “No, that’s bullshit,” because horrible things do happen to horrible people. Because when a woman makes an allegation of sexual assault, we need to ensure that the first thing we do when we hear an allegation is to listen, not marginalize or disparage — no matter who the accuser(s) may be.
So I was curious about Velie’s guest appearance on 920 KVEC’s “Dave Congalton Show” on Monday to talk about a story that recently went viral.
Cal Coast News was the first to report that two San Luis Obispo County business owners were accused of multiple sexual assaults that took place over the span of several years. SLO-based Kin Coffee Bar owner Julian Contreras and Nate Abate, owner of Nate’s Barbershop in Atascadero, were accused on social media of sexually assaulting a woman and an unnamed friend in Contreras’ bedroom in 2012. In a series of detailed Instagram posts, former San Luis Obispo resident Ash Riddell laid out her accusations. Her name was revealed in The Tribune. Riddell revealed that more than 30 women have come forward…