Harvey Weinstein Is A Rapist. No 'Allegedly' About It Anymore.
One of the small but galling things about writing about Harvey Weinstein for nearly three years now has been having to refer to him as an "alleged" rapist and an "alleged" sexual predator. It is, of course, a rule we must observe for legal reasons and to protect people accused of crimes they didn't commit. But in his case, when the evidence against him has been so overwhelming, it felt particularly unfair to those who had been victimized by him.
But now, the time for "allegedly" is over, as he has officially been found guilty of two felony sex crimes — criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He was found not guilty of the more serious charges of two counts of predatory sexual assault, which the testimonies of several women whose cases could not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations on sexual assault were meant to prove. One of those women was "The Sopranos" actress Annabelle Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein raped her in her apartment nearly 30 years ago.
Specifically, Weinstein was found guilty of raping formerly aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 in a Manhattan hotel room, and of forcibly performing oral sex on Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006. Weinstein has been sent to jail to await his sentencing, and the first degree sexual assault carries a five to 25 year sentence. Considering that he is also facing rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles, it is likely he's going to be spending a while in prison.
Via the New York Times:
Six women testified at trial that he had sexually assaulted them, though Mr. Weinstein had faced criminal charges in connection with only two of them. The others were allowed to testify to establish a pattern of behavior.
The indictment rested on the accusations of Miriam Haley, a former television production assistant who testified that Mr. Weinstein forced oral sex on her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006; and Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, who says he raped her in a Midtown Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Ms. Mann and Ms. Haley both acknowledged that they continued to see Mr. Weinstein after the alleged assaults and later had consensual sex with him, testimony that complicated the prosecution's case.
Justice Burke allowed the prosecution to call four women as witnesses to corroborate the five charges stemming from Ms. Mann's and Ms. Haley's claims against Mr. Weinstein.
In a press conference, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance thanked the female prosecutors and the women who came forward about Weinstein, saying that they "changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence."
"These are eight women who pulled our justice system into the 21st Century by declaring that rape is rape and sexual assault is sexual assault no matter what"
But it is worth mentioning, as writer Marisa Kabas pointed out on Twitter, that Cyrus had a chance to take Weinstein down five years ago, but somehow didn't think audio of Weinstein literally admitting to sexually assaulting Ambra Gutierrez was convincing enough for a case.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance says in a press conference post-Harvey Weinstein verdict, “rape is rape and sexual assault is… https://t.co/28TjGfJq8H— Marisa Kabas (@Marisa Kabas)1582565234.0
Hopefully, Vance has really learned something here and is not just doing a victory lap for the sake of a victory lap.
That Weinstein was found guilty despite the complicated nature of his relationships with the victims is important, and should not be overlooked. It means we are hopefully moving toward a place where a victim's behavior after-the-fact does not change the fact that a crime was committed in the first place — a thing that has really only ever been the case for crimes of sexual assault. Let us hope that this can be a thing we do as a matter of course going forward, and not just for high-profile cases.
Charging individuals with crimes they have committed is great and important, but what is needed most of all is systemic change.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse