130 Advocates Urge Whole Foods: "Change the Culture of Sexual Violence"
130 advocates addressed an open letter to board members of Whole Foods Market and Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the nonprofit founded by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Signers object to Mackey's association with alleged sex abuser, spiritual leader Marc Gafni, as reported by The NY Times. Advocacy organizations include Faculty Against Rape (FAR) and National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV).
New York, New York, December 6, 2016 (Newswire.com) - 130 advocates for survivors of sexual assault addressed an open letter to board members of Whole Foods Market and Conscious Capitalism Inc., the nonprofit founded by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, urging executives to "change the culture of sexual violence":
Advocates object to CEO Mackey's association with alleged sexual abuser, former rabbi and spiritual leader Marc Gafni, as reported by The New York Times last December.
The Times reported Gafni describing one of his accusers:
"She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her."
The Times also reported:
"A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni 'a bold visionary.' He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch."
The New York Daily News reported Gafni denying allegations, stating his two then-underage accusers were willing partners.
The Washington Post reported on coordinated protests at Whole Foods stores in New York City and Los Angeles in May.
Sara Kabakov was the then-14-year-old girl whom Gafni described as "going on 35." She came forward publicly for the first time in January in an article in the Forward: "I Was 13 When Marc Gafni's Abuse Began."
According to a Whole Foods Market statement, Mackey is no longer on the board of directors of Gafni's nonprofit. But on his Whole Foods Market Blog, Mackey describes his involvement with Gafni as a "personal relationship."
The letter's signers urge Mackey to disavow Gafni, stating:
"In pledging his loyalty to Gafni, and protecting their 'personal relationship,' as noted on his Whole Foods Market Blog, Mackey has inadvertently hurt survivors of sexual assault and obstructed efforts to change the culture of sexual violence."
Signers of the open letter include university professors, student advocates, CEOs, founders, and executive directors of advocacy organizations, including Faculty Against Rape (FAR), the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA), and SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), the organization featured in the movie Spotlight.
Lead signer Matthew Sandusky, founder and executive director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and abused son of convicted pedophile, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, said:
"I believe this situation affords John Mackey, Whole Foods, and Conscious Capitalism an opportunity to create positive societal change. I ask these business leaders to join with myself and other signers of this open letter to start a meaningful dialogue on prevention and education efforts to eradicate the culture of sexual violence."
The open letter, authored by San Francisco Bay Area activist Nancy Levine, was published on the website Feminine Collective on December 3.
Source: Peaceful Hearts Foundation