Adam Foss — the former prosecutor, interviewed and profiled by Crime Story in July of this year as an advocate for transforming the role of prosecutors — has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2017.

The allegations were made in a Medium post by Reagan Sealy on November 20. After recounting the details of the alleged assault, Sealy goes on to say: “What I thought had been a one-off collision of trauma-bonding and miscommunication was, it turns out, a pretty regular routine for Adam…. I began sharing my story with friends, and quickly realized that I had kicked a hornet’s nest… Everywhere I went, I found a trail of humiliation and harm left by Adam.”

Foss was a prosecutor in Suffolk County, Massachusetts from 2008 to 2016. On the same day that Sealy posted her allegations, the current Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released a statement recognizing the “allegations that a former Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office (SCDAO) employee engaged in behavior that was either inappropriate, an abuse of his authority, unethical or illegal” and pledging to “remedy any potential past failings or inactions by the office I now lead. We must provide a safe, inclusive and healthy work environment for our staff and for every person who comes into contact with SCDAO.”

Rollins statement also acknowledges that “[a]lthough Adam and I have never been employed together, several years ago we both volunteered in leadership roles at a state-wide civic association. As a result of that meaningful work, I have since considered him a friend.” We have published images of Rollins entire two page statement below.

Also on November 20, Foss released a statement quoted by WBUR reporter Deborah Becker:

I have seen recent social media posts alleging improper conduct in my past. I recognize that some of my callous and insensitive behavior has caused many people anguish, but I deny any allegations of nonconsensual sexual relations.

With respect to District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ recent statement referencing a pending investigation, I do not wish to compromise that process by commenting further. In addition, this is a more appropriate time for me to listen than to speak.

Foss came to national attention when his 2016 TED Talk entitled “A Prosecutor’s Vision for a Better Justice System” went viral, and has to date accumulated nearly 3 million views across TED’s various platforms.

In her blog post Sealy recounts that approximately one year after the alleged rape, she joined TED Residency. “I told someone at TED about my experience with him. I needed to make sure he would not be invited to the talks,” she writes. “Their response caught me off guard. The TED person I spoke to told me that they’d already heard similar things about Adam, and that he was banned from their events.”

On November 21, TED posted the following statement on their website:

It has come to TED’s attention that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office is investigating sexual assault allegations against TED2016 speaker Adam Foss. Foss denies the allegations. [Details at WBUR]

Sexual assault is a criminal matter, and we know that it is hard for survivors to speak out and to be believed. That said, TED is not equipped to review these allegations in any authoritative capacity. Some have suggested that we remove the talk, and we understand and respect that perspective. We nonetheless believe that while the investigation is ongoing, the correct action is to leave the talk online but alert potential viewers that there are disputed allegations against the speaker. You can see that treatment on the talk page here. We will revisit our decision once the judicial process is completed.

TED has also attached the following statement to all pages with Foss’s TED Talk: (NOTE: Adam Foss is currently under investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. For more details and TED’s response, read “An update on allegations about a TED speaker” below.)

In our original Crime Story interview with Foss, conducted by Amanda Knox with Christopher Robinson, we reported that Foss founded Prosecutor Impact (PI), “a not-for-profit organization built around the mission of improving community safety in the United States through a better understanding of the most important actor in the criminal justice system: the criminal prosecutor.” On their website, PI has posted a “STATEMENT ABOUT THE ALLEGATIONS SURROUNDING ADAM FOSS,” saying:

The leadership and staff of Prosecutor Impact are dedicated to improving the outcomes for those who are impacted by the criminal justice system.

Because we are firm believers in accountability, we also insist that anyone working on behalf of our organization be held to a higher standard of professional conduct and personal integrity. 

Any actions that fall below that standard are unacceptable.

Crime Story will follow up on this story as it develops.

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