Kathy Byrnes letter of support

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Response to Heather Pearson’s accusations (repeated by Jessica Fears) against Ed Fallon

I write this letter of support as Ed Fallon’s life partner as well as a witness to events that indicate Heather Pearson’s accusations of sexual predation against Ed are false and harmful.

Heather’s accusations stem from an incident in which she perpetrated a sex act on Ed, which he neither invited nor consented to. The incident occurred in March 2017 shortly after Ed and I began our romantic relationship. At that time, I was good friends with Heather – we had known and supported each other since the start of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa.

I first learned of this incident in July of 2018. Ed had just gotten off a phone call with Heather during which I overheard him say, “So now you’re rewriting history?” After that phone call, he told me that, when he was at an event the previous year and his original accommodations weren’t working out, Heather insisted he stay in a hotel room with her. He continued that, during the night, he awoke to Heather performing a sex act on him. He further explained that he never mentioned the incident to me before because, after he immediately put a stop to the act and Heather apologized, they both agreed not to talk about it.

Of course, learning this news was very upsetting for me, but I could also see how upsetting it was for Ed to tell the story. From my experience as a former high school teacher, I am all too aware that, when a person tells you that someone perpetrated an uninvited sex act on them, you don’t criticize the victim or ask them how they got themselves into the situation. So I listened and empathized. I also told him I owed it to Heather to hear her side.

I soon reached out to Heather, and in a series of text messages and phone conversations, she told me several times that “it was consensual.” In one instance, she stated, “I told you exactly what happened……even though it was embarrassing and hard for me to own my part of it.” In fact, she mentioned her embarrassment several times.

Heather’s comments, however, only further convinced me that her actions could constitute assault. She was admitting she purposely took part in the act, while Ed was stating he neither invited nor consented to it. In short, there is no way to interpret Ed’s behavior as predatory.

Heather also told me that Ed had made advances to other women at a party they both attended prior to the incident; however, several mutual friends who also attended that party have refuted Heather’s claim that Ed “hit on” any woman at that party.

Ed and I discussed this situation at length and decided that we should do our best to ignore Heather’s allegations and let her work out whatever was leading her to make these false accusations. Since then, though, she has not only taken her accusations public via various social media platforms, but she has also reached out to other women to convince them that Ed is a problem, that they should stop supporting his work, and even that they should also speak out against him. A number of our friends have even told us they have felt harassed by Heather – who refers to them as “enablers” and says they “perpetuate rape culture.” These accusations of our friends have become vicious enough to bring some of them to tears.

A friend of Heather’s, Jessica Fears, has joined Heather in making disparaging remarks about Ed on social media and via email, and in publicly accusing other women of enabling and perpetuating rape culture.

That’s one reason that, after all this time, we’re speaking out. If the lies only affected us, we could take it, but they are affecting our work, our families, and our friends and colleagues.

When I see Heather’s accusations against Ed, I keep thinking about how much she talked about being embarrassed. I even told Heather that I understand what a powerful emotion embarrassment is, that I have also done things I’m not proud of, and that I wished her peace.

Heather’s accusations against Ed, in my opinion, should be taken as a response to her feelings of embarrassment for her actions, which she admitted to several times in our exchanges. I speculate that her accusations may have been part of an attempt to cover herself, given that she is married and her actions, consensual or not, constitute infidelity on her part.

I have never heard any other woman say he used his position to prey on them. In fact, I have met many women who attest to Ed’s having helped them through difficulties. I know many women who have shared a living space with him and have the utmost appreciation for his respect for them.

Please note that I understand predatory behavior well enough to know that, when one person says an act was consensual and one says it was not, we must believe the one who says it was not consensual. The incident between Heather and Ed was not consensual on Ed’s part. I fully support Ed in standing up to the accusations made by Heather Pearson and repeated by Jessica Fears.

Furthermore, I certify under penalty of perjury and pursuant to the laws of the state of Iowa that the preceding is true and correct.

Thank you,

Kathy Byrnes, March 13, 2020