This happened at a private after-party in a private hotel room where a small crowd got all cozy with apparently too many drinks involved.
This did not happen at the conference.
The difference is important. Context is everything in these cases.
I do agree that this is where most of the problems happen, though. I've only heard of something along these lines happening at one academic conference I've been to, and it was the most party-ish one, where the academic and non-academic/drinking parts were pretty loosely separated. The kind where 100 people get in a drab room on a university campus and listen to talks for 8 hours, then go sleep so they can get up again at 7am for the next morning's keynote, seems to result in no trouble of any kind (admittedly, there could be problems at those too and I'm just out of the loop).
Oddly, I've never heard of any problems at the most party-ish hacker event I've been to, SuperHappyDevHouse. I don't know if it's the culture, the frowning on drunkenness, the mixture of people it attracts, the physical layouts, or what.
We purposely encourage the culture at SuperHappyDevHouse that frowns on drunkenness.
Additionally, we have put a lot of effort into making SHDH an event that is welcoming to everyone, including women.
I try to greet everyone who comes to SHDH for two reasons: So that newcomers know they are welcome and so that everyone knows (at some level) that they will be held accountable for their behavior.
ETA: Or that she should have not put herself in the vicinity of drunken people.
Regardless, I consider the after-conference 'events' often more substantial than some of the conference, it is my favorite part and I often learn more out of the (usually drunken) disucssions.
The thought of having the anxiety or fear like this ruin that for me is terrible.
In terms of excusing the man's behavior, it makes no fucking difference.
I don't think telling women "oh sure the conference is perfectly safe but watch yourself at the after-parties, geeks can get pretty handsy when they're drunk" is going to encourage more women to come to conferences.
(Sorry for the sour sarcasm, it's the only way I can handle such a uncomfortable subject)
Honestly the only thing that could possibly make any difference would be if the whole thing was fabricated. Which would be a huge difference.
I was in Atlanta.
I was at the original private party.
The party moved out to a nearbye bar.
The assault took place in a public bar. An expensive downtown Atlanta one.
Maybe 30+ people from the conference in the bar.
Regardless, it does not matter the physical location of the assault. It was wrong. It is unacceptable anywhere.
I know Noirin and I've helped with ApacheCon for years (first time in years I wasn't there).