In making this point, Wittmer posits that Letterman "used his position of power to receive sexual favors from some of his female employees. Obviously they are not pure either, but Dave is more culpable because he held by far the most power in their relationship."
One of his commenters questions this assumption of Letterman's culpability: "How do you know that Letterman used power as leverage in these relationships? How are these women who used sex exploitatively more vulnerable than men? ...I can’t connect all the dots between our facts, conjectures and judgments."
I understand the commenter's concern regarding our assumptions of power and exploitation and vulnerability. After all, haven't women spent the last forty years proving we are powerful? Who's to say the female staffers weren't, in fact, taking advantage of Dave?
Maybe another perspective will help "connect the dots."
Take Letterman's fame and gender out of the equation — he is a boss. As boss, he was in a position of power over these women even if they consented. Regardless of whether job threats are ever actually uttered, a boss is in a position of power over his employees. That's why sexual harassment laws exist: to protect the more vulnerable (the employee) from the more powerful (the boss).
Although a similar argument could be made regarding the relative social (and physical) power of the two sexes, the fact that Letterman is male and the staffers are female is not the main issue here. The main issue, I would say, is that he took advantage of his position. As their boss, he is already one step above them on the power ladder.
Now, add his fame and his gender back into the equation, and the power gap widens. Letterman is at least three steps above his staffers on that ladder, towering over them in terms of relative power. Are they really in a position to decline his advances?
In the counseling profession, ethical codes expressly prohibit counselor/client sexual relationships. Like sexual harassment laws, ethical codes protect the more vulnerable (the client) from the more powerful (the counselor). The associations responsible for these codes (ACA, APA, AAMFT) emphasize this point because they understand the power gap between the counselor and client.
Even secular governing bodies understand the potential in human nature for the powerful to exploit the vulnerable.
Jesus understood it too:
Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." Luke 17:1-2