Jordan Chariton Accused of Sexual Assault, Misconduct by Former Employees
This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post. It was removed, and the Huffington Post told me: “Obviously, we aren’t making any statement about the veracity of the claims within — it’s simply that we don’t have the ability to fact-check and stand behind that sort of original reporting in a contributor post.”
TYT Politics and Truth Against the Machine reporter Jordan Chariton has been accused by several former employees and colleagues of incidents of sexual misconduct, including assault.
Carly Hammond, a former Truth Against the Machine reporter, told me in detail about her relationship with Chariton and about an incident where he allegedly raped her.
Hammond met Chariton through Zee Cohen, an associate of Chariton’s, whom she connected with while covering the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Hammond joined Truth shortly thereafter and worked with Chariton on covering Flint several more times in person.
In May of 2017, Chariton, Hammond, Chariton’s TYT cameraman Ty Bayliss, and TAtM reporter Chelsea Lyons went out for drinks to celebrate a new story. They returned to Chariton’s hotel room after, “wasted.”
“Of course I accepted because I wanted to feel accepted, liked, validated by Jordan and Ty, whom I had admired for a long time,” Hammond told me. “It was an opportunity to develop closer ties with people who could take me places. Jordan would constantly remind me that he has tons of connections, that I’m very talented and skilled, and that he can help me ‘be a star.’”
(In a statement released prior to this story, Chariton reported that on the night in question, they only drank ‘a few beers, but no one was drunk.”)
Hammond changed into a bathing suit and got into the hotel room’s hot tub. “Jordan was in his boxers, and I’m pretty sure Chelsea was just naked, but I was too drunk to care,” she recalled. “Ty got in later with more alcohol, which we all consumed.”
Chariton eventually left the tub and went to bed. Hammond told me that Bayliss and Lyons were “making out,” and after some time she decided to get up and go to bed. The group had invited her to spend the night in the hotel, and the only bed for her was the one Chariton was sleeping in. She recalls that he was snoring loudly and she assumed he was asleep for the night, so she laid down for bed.
The next thing she remembers is Lyons on top of her, trying to kiss her, and her top removed. “I tried turning over and pushing her off and she just pulled me back,” Hammond said. “Ty [Bayliss] was there too. He tried to kiss me. All I could think was, ”No,” and let’s be clear, I said it too. Not loudly. I couldn’t yell. But if someone looked at that face, and asked themselves if I wanted any if this, the answer is fucking no.”
Lyons eventually gave up on Hammond and woke up Chariton. Hammond remembers her saying, “She’s beautiful, enjoy her.”
Chariton replied “Are you sure?”
“But he wasn’t talking to me,” Hammond said.
“He didn’t take his dick out,” Hammond continued. “But pretty much everything else he could do, he did.”
At some point, Hammond says that she came to her senses and was able to kick Chariton, at which point he began apologizing. He told her to get dressed and took her out into the lobby, where he became tender and affectionate. Hammond, who had already survived sexual assault before, did not know how to respond.
“I chose to do the dumbest thing imaginable and accept responsibility for what happened,” Hammond explained. “It was utterly my fault, and good that it happened because Jordan is the best and would never lie to me and he’s so great so what the hell? Might as well just believe everything he says because he’s 11 years older than me and I didn’t want to go through feeling like a victim again.”
Complicating the matter is what happened two weeks later. At Chariton’s suggestion, Hammond spent her own money to fly to New York to work with Chariton on more reporting.
“I knew from the first minute that I got to his apartment that everything was a total lie. He said that I would stay with him and he’d sleep in the loft. I took one look up there and it’s full of boxes and it’s dark and dusty.” The work Chariton had asked her to do turned out to not exist, and Hammond felt that she had been trapped.
“It took until the fourth day that I couldn’t ignore it any more. Realizing he’s horrible, I booked the soonest flight I could afford for the $400 I had in my bank account.”
This is important because Chariton’s defense of his actions hinges on the idea that Hammond and him were “intimate” even after the incident in the hotel room. But that is evidence of nothing — studies show that as many as 62% of women blame themselvesafter being raped, and abuse victims in general are likely to stay with their abusers for some time before working up the courage to leave.
Zee Cohen, Chariton’s former colleague at both TYT Politics and Truth Against the Machine, has come out in support of Hammond after initially disbelieving her. “Regardless of what went down, [Hammond] felt assaulted. And instead of Jordan apologizing to her, he claims she’s crazy. And so am I for believing her.”
Cohen eventually left Truth Against the Machine.
Several other former employees of Chariton has come forward in support of Hammond and to tell their own stories of sexist and inappropriate sexual behavior at his hands.
Taralei Griffin, another former Truth reporter, recounts that at the Truth Against the Machine Journalist Summit which took place in New York on Saturday 11th and 12th, Chariton behaved inappropriately and abusively towards her and others. Her story reads eerily similar to Hammond’s: many of the Truth journalists, including Jenn Dize, as well as Chariton and editor-in-chief Sam Oser, went out and got drunk together.
“We went back to Jordan’s. A bunch of people were on the bed, including Jordan and I. He passed out…I wound up passing out on the bed too. I woke up to Jenn [Dize] aggressively pulling me up by both my arms, telling me I had to wake up.”
Griffin maintains that she fell asleep with a blanket and a pillow between herself and Chariton. But Dize was worried. Griffin says that she froze up, having past trauma associated with being pulled, and Dize asked some of the men in the group to lift her up. “’Trust me, there’s a reason she can’t be in there,’” Griffin recalls Dize saying.
For her part, Dize has contested this version of events, claiming that only women touched Griffin as the men in the room refused. She also denies ever touching Griffin on her own, maintaining that she only did so in conjunction with other women.
The next day, Griffin says she was accused by Dize of “embracing Jordan,” although Taralei and other reporters present contradicted this. She was informed that “people” were spreading rape accusations about Chariton in order to “take him down.” That was the reason given for her being assaulted in bed, so badly that it left bruises.
After learning the truth about Carly Hammond’s allegations against Chariton, Griffin said that she believed the story completely. She gave me a statement which reads:
It’s difficult for me to put this into words. I have become friends with Jordan while working with him over the past year, and I wanted to look past his sexist behaviors. But I can’t. He talks down to women regularly, dismisses their professional experience, and tells them they should keep him happy because, as he says “I have connections. I can help you succeed.” I have heard him objectify the women he works with, both at TYT and TAtM, and I have seen him play the victim and react passive aggressively when women have spurned his advances. Because of witnessing these behaviors, while I didn’t want to believe he would go so far as to physically sexually assault someone, the information I have been given in conjunction with what I have witnessed of him, leads me to believe the testimonies of women who have come forward.
Former Truth reporter Paula Martinez-Benge, who was also present at the Summit until being fired suddenly, corroborated Chariton’s sexist and abusive behavior. Her testimony is here.
Another former reporter, Ruel James, said that he believes the allegations against Chariton and reported that one of the reasons he left the outlet was that “Jordan brings people on the team to sleep with them.” His full statement is here.
Chariton released a statement in anticipation of these allegations, roundly denying them and giving his own version of events. TYT Network has apparently put him on administrative leave until they can conduct an investigation.
This story has been updated to remove ambiguity in the nature of Zee Cohen’s role in this issue — she is not an ‘accuser’ in the same way as Carly Hammond, merely a supporter.