The victims were taken to the basement of the house, without windows, the lights dim, the wine arranged with some snacks, a coffee table, two sofas, sit down, have a drink, in the background, the movie screen and the speakers. And the door locked. Open me. Aren’t you going to say goodbye? The money, in the end, to buy clothes, to shut our mouths: I have the credibility, you are just a girl. And then come home and vomit to see if guilt, fear, and disgust come out. Andrés Roemer’s lair is perfectly described by the women who have reported assaults, all the same story, the same behavior of the new “sexual predator”, as they call him, who these days have breakfast, lunch and dinner with silent confessions on Twitter for a long time. “I have never experienced such great pain,” he told this newspaper. “Now they lynch you the same if you give a compliment as if you dismember a person,” he says.
Andrés Roemer is a prestigious man in Mexico: professor, diplomat, host of the Sunday program ADN40 on TV Azteca, scientific disseminator, political activities, awarded in the best academic houses, co-founder together with magnate Ricardo Salinas Pliego -whose friendship he raised before the victims, as they say- from the Festival La Ciudad de las Ideas, a hotbed of projects for brilliant minds. A man of power with the best contacts, married, with children, with a driver and with service personnel, who opens or closes the doors at the request of the lord. Reputation turns its back seriously these days. Three women have told their case, with names and surnames, to this newspaper. Others have left bitter experiences under anonymity on social networks. Up to six women accuse him, without a criminal complaint, of rape or abuse and the matter is likely to continue. The messages on the internet now say that many knew what this man was hiding under so many honors, who continues to keep his job on Mexican television.
Roemer denies everything and assures that it is a plot against him hatched in other spheres, business. “The media lynching has been exaggerated,” he complains. He says that he never had bad intentions towards anyone, but that he does not know if some accusations are real or not. In any case, “you never have to deny a human being, just listen to him and grow.” “I offer, on behalf of many men, our ignorance on issues that we have unconsciously stuck.”
The dancer Itzel Schnaas has blown up the latest sexual abuse scandal in Mexico, when the fire caused by Salgado Macedonio’s electoral candidacy for governor of Guerrero, accused of two rapes and several abuses, has not yet been put out. She has recorded a video recounting her experience in that underground chamber. Schnaas defended himself well from the groping. Others suffered worse luck. What happened with Andrés Roemer, according to the victims, bears similarities to the case of Harvey Weinstein, the famous American film producer who gave rise to Me Too. Men of power who blackmail women with juicy job opportunities or ruin their jobs if they do not comply with their criminal desires.
“The respectable, the philanthropist, the intellectual, deceives you. Many people admire him, you cannot believe that he will act like this, ”says journalist Monserrat Ortiz. She was only 22, now 27, when the private chauffeur ushered her into the house through the garage to the basement study where Roemer held his “important meetings.” He had offered her a job as a translator in her spare time, well paid. The conditions would be discussed at home, to where the driver transferred her from the offices of TV Azteca, her job at that time. Until now, he had not explained in detail, he says by phone, what happened that night. The wine she didn’t drink, his eyes that didn’t leave her legs. “I was wearing a dress and I pulled the jacket over my knees because it felt uncomfortable, but he took it off and put it on the rack. So I covered myself with a cushion, he took it off too. What nice legs, have you put the dress for me? Ortiz was completely paralyzed. When it was all over and he pulled up his pants, he offered her about seven thousand pesos, which the girl left there. “Next buy yourself an expensive dress for me.” And he still took a few dollars out of his pocket. “In case you need it,” he said, always according to the woman’s story.
Before all that, Ortiz did not understand why the victims were paralyzed, why they did not report, why they did not flee. Now you know. And he cannot forget it. He came home with a ton of guilt. She induced vomiting, bathed, and threw the stained dress in the trash. He never cried, never told anyone until years later, his sister. He only asked his boss not to send him another interview with that man, without details, and she agreed. The guilt did not leave him. “How could I fall for their game, why did I wear that dress? I thought that maybe he had reason to think that I was looking for something else. I didn’t feel anger against him, but against me ”, he is still surprised. “That night I asked him to respect his wife instead of asking for respect for me. I was entirely to blame. I even came to think that it had been a consensual relationship as much as I blamed myself ”.
Although he never reported – going to the authorities is not an easy ride in Mexico – there are many details and scenarios that he keeps in his head. Those that have to come to light in a collective lawsuit if the women who work in that manage to round up the legal case. Periodistas Unidas de México (PUM), the organization that has been channeling these accusatory messages against Roemer, is working on setting up a network among all of them, joining forces and complaints until everything has its landing in the courts. Eloísa Farrera, one of the organization’s spokespersons, says that Itzel Schnaas’s confession, which moved her because she also had sexual harassment in the workplace, was consistent with the stories that other colleagues had sent them or had taken to the light on previous occasions.
There are, in fact, many testimonies that put on the same track. Talia Margolis, who works in communication for a paint company, also crossed paths with Andrés Roemer in her day. Then the common area of both was the City of Ideas. Margolis’s company managed scholarships for the talented. I was 21 years old. “He sat in front of me, so close that his knees went around mine. He praised my talent and then told me: what delicious chichis [tetas] have. I stopped. I have come here to talk about work, I said. I remember that smile. All right, he said, sorry. But immediately he went back to his old ways: are you waxed? He asked me. ” Margolis trembled. “10 years ago there was not all this awareness that there is now. I just saw him as an important man who told me that he would go a long way with his support. I had wanted to report for three or four years, but I didn’t want to do it alone, I wanted to be with someone. And she knew she wasn’t the only one. We are so many… ”.
At that, the anger of Itzel Schnaas, 31 years old, came and everything jumped into the air, the shame of the victims and the prestige of Andrés Roemer. The story of Itzel Schnaas, video included, is somewhat different from the others, because she comes from a family with contacts among the powerful class of Mexico. His father is an international judge of sailing boats, he shares luxury spaces with the high places in Valle del Bravo, Puerto Vallarta. The top executives of Salinas Pliego stop there, and she and Roemer have acquaintances in common. Schnaas arrived at the house warned, but without being intimidated, although he left crying, but never showed fear before him, he says. She did not get rid of his groping that left unsolicited caresses between her legs “while he grabbed his penis.” Roemer also offered her money to buy a nice skirt “for the next time,” she says. And, as in the rest of the cases, it suffered from the wasap messages. Despite this, she repeats several times over the phone: “I know that I am the least of his victims.”
She has publicly denounced him after starting a process in the Gender Unit of the Salinas Pliego Group, from which she came out, she affirms, with credibility, and he with a huge stain on his file that has not gotten him off his job. Roemer denies that this process existed. “I saw him a day before posting the video, through a common acquaintance. He told me that he did not expect that of me, that he had not violated me. He went on his nose, with that phrase. I read the text of my video to him. He cried, trembled and asked me not to do it, ”says Schnaas.
Roemer plans to publish a statement with his explanations, but before, he has spoken with this newspaper: “It is important not to do to others what they do not want to be done,” he says, but he apologizes “to any human being who has missed ”. Blame these behaviors, when they occur, to a “mismanaged patriarchy.” “I have never perceived that there was no mutual consent. I fully understand that men have a very wrong patriarchal education and we have to learn, grow, listen, communicate, mature enormously ”. He denies “one hundred percent” the violation of which Monserrat Ortiz, whom he says he does not know, accuses him. “In that there is not the remotest doubt, that is not interpretable, that is already taking to the extreme the desire to hurt me. Even I recommend that if they slap you, file a criminal complaint, which I don’t have. That is absurd, barbaric, incredible, painful, “he says.
“I have learned two things,” Roemer continues in conversation with this newspaper: “That I probably have enormous enemies and that, regardless of my case, it is essential that in schools, in universities, in formal and informal forums, it is necessary to to teach [a los hombres] to overcome and mature ”. When he talks about enemies and refers to a plot, Roemer refers to the friends he shares with Itzel Schnaas or her family, senior executives of the Salinas Pliego group, from whom he infers that they want to remove him from the business. Schnaas herself, in statements to this newspaper, said that she also felt used when she saw “that male fight” unleashed that used her case of abuse to drop Roemer from the group.
The doctor and the dancer, indeed, saw each other in a restaurant in southern Mexico City the day before she publicly accused him in a video. That conversation was recorded and Roemer has extracted a fragment that he has published on Twitter in which he talks about these alleged business enemies. “Behind this complaint are the interests of two people, outside the rights of women, which for me are essential,” concludes Roemer on Twitter. “My only purpose is to clarify the truth,” he says goodbye.
The dancer remembers the phrase the doctor told her that day in the basement: “You and I are going to get along very well.” The man did not know the storm that was coming.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.