Two young activists from New York University (NYU) — one championing AAPI causes and the other, climate change — have accused each other of sexual assault, resulting in a legal battle that has divided public opinion based largely on anecdotal evidence.
What the AAPI activist is saying: Emma Tang, a Taiwanese American activist, claims that Jamie Margolin, a Jewish climate change activist, raped her on the night of Oct. 31, 2020. Noting she was intoxicated at the time of the alleged sexual assault, Tang says she remembers Margolin being on top of her and finding herself completely naked the next morning.
The alleged incident occurred during a Halloween party that Margolin had organized at a Brooklyn apartment rented through Airbnb. Aside from Tang, Margolin reportedly invited two high school friends who came from Seattle and Minnesota.
Tang recalled the group arriving at the apartment at approximately 9 p.m. She said all four of them consumed alcohol throughout the evening.
The group reportedly played spin the bottle at around 10 p.m. During the game, Margolin allegedly “kept trying to engineer an outcome” in which her bottle ended up pointing to Tang. The latter recalled them eventually kissing.
Tang, who was 18 at the time, believes she consumed six to nine shots of hard liquor, which left her “severely intoxicated.” Later that night, she said she found herself in a bedroom with Margolin. She remembered trying to leave the room, but Margolin allegedly pulled her back.
Tang said one of Margolin’s high school friends “attempted to see what was going on,” but Margolin “ordered him to get out of the bedroom.” Tang said she woke up naked next to Margolin the following morning. She quickly grabbed her clothes, left the apartment and headed home.
Tang told NextShark that she contacted her therapist and close friends the next day to tell them about what happened. She posted about the incident in December on Instagram. “I had been struggling with trying to understand that I was a survivor of a sexual assault by a friend. I felt I needed to express my feelings of trauma and connect with other survivors to begin healing,” Tang said.
She also pointed out that while she is sexually attracted to women, she is not sexually attracted to Margolin. She said Margolin repeatedly sought to meet her even after the incident, but she ignored her messages. “These texts demonstrate Margolin’s guilty mind and are evidence that Margolin was the aggressor the evening of Oct. 31, 2020,” Tang’s lawyer wrote in a counterclaim petition. “By Nov. 20, 2020, Margolin’s guilty mind was beginning to plague her even more and she was becoming increasingly desperate to confront Tang in person.”
What the climate activist is saying: Margolin has denied Tang’s allegations, claiming that it was her whom the latter had sexually “coerced, abused, stalked and harassed.” In March 2021, she first published her story in Bust magazine without naming Tang.
Margolin identified Tang as her “abuser” in a Medium post later in September of the same year. She said she first met Tang a month before the Halloween party through a mutual friend. “I thought I was safe in this small group with two close friends and this one new person who I was just getting to know. I was anything but safe,” Margolin wrote.
Margolin, who was also 18 at the time, claims that she did not drink before the party and that Tang encouraged everyone to drink. “Even though I had never drank before and made that very clear, she [Tang] insisted that I have more, even ordering more alcohol when she ran out,” she wrote.
Margolin said she ended up being intoxicated and asked to be left alone, but Tang allegedly followed her to a room and made sexual advances on her. “She did not care despite both my verbal and physical resistance,” Margolin noted. When one of her friends came to the room, Emma allegedly “jumped up and pushed my friend out of the room yelling at them to get out and locking the door.” Margolin has since shared a statement from said friend, who supported her claims.
Margolin also wrote that she was in “denial” the following morning and “even checked in on her [Tang] to see how she felt, knowing that I was not ok.” While Tang said she called a therapist and close friends, Margolin said she called a “trusted adult” on the same day.
“I didn’t want to use the word assault for a long time. Instead thinking that this had to be my fault,” Margolin wrote. “That if I hadn’t been drinking, I could have stopped her. That if only I had been more careful and not trusted this new person so quickly that I could have prevented being assaulted.”
Tang told NextShark that temporary orders of protection issued by both parties were “withdrawn without prejudice” in July. Whether either side plans to take their case further is unclear. NextShark has reached out to Jamie Margolin for comment but has yet to hear back.
Featured Image via @intersectional.abc (left), @Jamie_Margolin (right)
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