Wake County Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley, 20 November 2020 regarding the case of Jordan Hester:
“With respect to the request that he be required to register as a sex offender, the court has considered the evidence offered and the statements offered and I’ll tell you the two things that have given me the greatest concern are the fact that he has–one of the primary reasons for the behavior for which he plead guilty dealt with his low self-esteem and self-worth. While he has been in counseling for three years, he’s barely scratched the surface of addressing that issue. The court is not confident that in another five years that will be addressed or what will happen after the five years has passed us.
More importantly, when his own expert tells me that she would not want to be supervised by him–that he should not supervise women–I’m being told that he should not supervise 51.9% of the workforce in this state. The only reason I can conclude that that was recommended was because his own expert thought that he was a danger. To say he cannot supervise women and she wouldn’t want to be supervised by him means that she would not trust him to be in a power of authority over her.
That directly put us back to [the expert’s] reasoning that she believed he committed the offenses because he wanted to feel like he had control.
For those reasons and all the evidence we have, the court finds that he is a danger to the public and is going to require him to register on the sex offender registry for a period of thirty years.”
I want to divide what I want to say into two parts: what happened to me and how it continues to affect me and my concerns about what happened or can happen to others in the future if they are not aware that Jordan is not a safe man to be around.
Jordan taped me without my consent, and that’s what he’s pleading guilty to today. That action changed the way I interact with the world. I don’t enter a room the same way; when I go home with a date for the first time, I scan the room for cameras. I keep tape over my webcams at home. I get nervous about security cameras and being observed in public. I feel reflexive anxiety in the back of my mind years later. Jordan is here because he filmed me–and others–without my consent but our relationship did other damage to me as a person. I have spent and will continue to spend years in therapy coping with what happened during that relationship.
I am asking that the court order him to register for what he did. I understand the burden of registration, and I am not making this request lightly or out of anger. I am making this request because Jordan’s intelligence, charm, and chosen vocation combine to mask the very real danger he presents to the women around him. Jordan and I both met and worked in the food service industry. Very rarely are hospitality professionals given background checks, and a charming person that’s good at the job and good with customers can start over in a new place without accountability. Jordan was good at his job and he gained a great deal of power in our industry. This was true even ten years ago when I worked downtown, where he was friends with my employer and the owners of other lucrative restaurants. He had power to influence hiring and firing in the community.
I think a lot of us like to believe that we’re pretty savvy–that we can spot a dangerous man, a creepy man–and avoid him. The problem with Jordan is that he is intelligent, educated, and knows the language of feminism. He presented himself to the world as a feminist ally, a safe man to be around. At the same time in our personal relationship he would talk about social engineering, manipulation; he made it clear to me that he took pleasure in his ability to fool the people around him. That he believed that he was more intelligent, and more worthy than anyone who disagreed with him.
Jordan also used all the right words in public to bolster his reputation and use it as a shield to make us question our experiences. Publicly, he was a vocal and staunch feminist, familiar with using language about women’s’ rights and quoting authors on the subject. I dated him while he was bartending and even preparing to be the bar manager at a restaurant that preceded Bida Manda. He spoke about wanting to be a mentor to women, and “giving women a chance to break in” a mostly male craft cocktail field at that time. Privately, he would say it was because women “follow commands better.” I remember him saying it that way: “commands.”
Jordan showed me–in fact he gave me–copies of the videos of the other women, as if he was showing off his trophies. They didn’t know. He always seemed like he wanted to have one-up on other people, particularly women. The way he flaunted it to me reinforced that I might never know what he had or knew about me. I heard rumors and stories about his behavior, but he always had an explanation or excuse, like, “We were drunk,” or “she doesn’t like me because I dated her and then dated her roommate.”
It’s disturbing, but there are men out there who are ignorant about consent, even if willfully so. Who believe that if a girl is too drunk to consent it’s not “real” rape or who believe that harassing young female employees is something that happens at every work place. I want to be clear: Jordan is not one of those men. He KNOWS those things are wrong. He did them anyway. He knows that rape is wrong, and even asked for my consent during sex fantasy play, something that has become even more disturbing now that I know what he has been accused of in real life. He knows how important a woman’s consent is yet repeatedly filmed women in private encounters who had not given it.
Jordan is an intelligent man in an industry that lacks accountability. It would be so easy for those around him to simply not know that he is dangerous. He could move, use a nick name, and he’s a new person. It’s not uncommon for service industry employees to be hired on the spot without even a resume or reference check. For his part, it’s good that Jordan is here taking responsibility. Jordan may get counseling. That’s also good, and I genuinely hope it helps him.
That being said: he knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it for a decade. He knew that people would think what he was doing was wrong and he bragged about his ability to manipulate. He knew that he was hurting women around him and he blamed them, over and over. I am asking that the court have him supervised and registered to warn other women of a danger that’s hard to spot beneath his public veneer.