coming forward

Yesterday, we chastised those who know the names of alleged sexual harassers at the Etchells 22 Worlds, (See Stop Pussy-Footing Around.) and yet are refusing to do the right thing and in effect, covering for and enabling the guilty. We find that cowardice really disturbing.

In the story below, a woman who suffered at the hands of a total creep, and has decided to step forward and tell her story.  We salute you, Samantha Evans.

I’m sure most of you in the sailing industry will remember this post on Sailing Anarchy that kept being taken down because he threatened the media outlets. The story of the shower creep that filmed women. James Gair aka chippy.

It did go to court and he was found guilty of voyeurism and given a suspended sentence. Yet, he managed to mostly keep it quiet and continue as though not much had happened. Today I am standing up and being brave- I was one of the victims he filmed.

Not many people will know it was actually me as I kept it relatively quiet as I was in shock and also scared; I was the one that found the camera and took it to the police after viewing to confirm he’d deliberately filmed us but I’ve worried for years of the consequences to my life by people knowing it was me and also his reaction. It’s impacted my sailing, withdrew me from a sport I loved, and changed me.

To put it into context, we were friends and I often sailed on his program, helped with corporate guests and stayed in the crew house. 1 hour before this shower incident where he hid a camera to film us without our permission, we had been discussing a potential project where I was going to use his crew house, his boat and him to co-skipper an offshore programme and potentially a Fastnet campaign with my school pupils.

I almost endangered minors both female and male by the trust id had in him. This could have been them which really impacts me. Unfortunately, he picked me and I found the camera. It was not the first time he had done this either. Police found videos going back over years including the family he had filmed.

For me, it impacted me more deeply at the time than I realised. Due to a court case pending for around 6 months, I stayed away from Cowes or South Coast sailing and after the trial and sentence, due to him receiving a custodial suspended sentence and no jail time (I understand some community service and being listed on the sexual offenders register) I was too frightened to go to Cowes for fear of seeing him. I only went sailing on the south coast when I needed to as my enjoyment had been completely removed.

After several years of “out of sight out of mind” (I’m very good at compartmentalizing) I’d not thought about it until I returned to Cowes last summer for a couple of days sailing.

Seeing his boat, brought it all back, the fear, the anxiety and I felt sick. He then saw me and decided to intimidate me by loitering in the race village less than 5m away from me and my baby for a good 30 minutes (attempting to talk and engage in conversation to the crew I was sailing with) and I did my best to be unaffected and ignore.

After a while I couldn’t handle it- I had a full breakdown in tears, hyperventilating and a friend had to help escort me away to a safe place as I was shaking and close to hysterics. I let him win by this and he’s been winning for over 6 years now, by continuing to sail and still operating commercially with unknowing customers and clients on his boat.

Why am I posting this now? It’s taken me this long to have the confidence and be brave enough. Victims of sexual predators, voyeurs, or abuse should not have to feel scared, frightened, or intimidated by their abusers and the perpetrators should not be able to get away with the damage they’ve done and continue to intimidate. After seeing another post today from a female being harassed in sailing and so many accounts of pro athletes recently across the sports arenas speaking up, it’s time for me to be strong enough to speak out too and share my story.

Women, it’s time to stand together. Thanks to my friends that did know at the time for their support and that have helped protect me over the years that knew of this incident and to all the decent men out there shocked by this behavior; Thank you I am a survivor and can tell my story.  – Samantha Evans.

Discussion thread now open.