Self-help guru Tony Robbins found himself in the middle of a PR disaster on Friday, after Buzzfeed News published an explosive report about the motivational speaker’s alleged misconduct. The accusations include berating rape victims and making inappropriate sexual advances towards female fans, volunteers, and staffers.
In one audio clip, a fan can be heard confiding in Robbins about the emotional and physical abuse she has suffered at the hands of her husband. Rather than show compassion, Robbins instead insinuated that the situation was her fault.
“What role did you play?” Robbins responded. “I’m not suggesting there’s any excuse for hitting a woman, so hear me. But I also want you to know that people don’t just act a certain f–king way.”
The woman, who has since been identified as Analay Souza Campos, claimed it was a positive experience that led her to cut ties with her husband for good. Regardless, leading experts say that Robbins’ response is harmful.
“I’m glad that experience was empowering for her, but another survivor sitting in that room might have felt like she was being ridiculed and her experiences were being dismissed,” said Leigh Goodmark, a professor and director of the Gender Violence Clinic at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.
Victim-blaming allegations aside, Robbins is also being accused of sexually harassing fans, volunteers, and staffers. Two of Robbins’ former assistants said that he demanded that they work alone with him while he was nude in his hotel room or shower.
And that’s not all. Gary King, Robbins’ former director of security, said that Robbins would dispatch him to get phone numbers from attractive women in the audience.
King said that he decided to speak out on behalf of all the women who felt too intimidated to come forward.
“Nothing is more important than your character in life,” King said. “Knowing I knew all that stuff that went on and I didn’t do anything about it? I couldn’t function like that.”