The mighty can indeed fall, just not all of the way.
After nearly three decades of abuse, two-and-a-half years following The New York Times’ (NYT) publication of the eye-opening inspection into a pattern of manipulation and silencing, and six weeks of an emotional, highly publicized trial, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
While the former film producer was found guilty of two felony sex crimes, the jury acquitted Weinstein of the most serious crime: predatory sexual assault.
Juror number nine, Drew, gave Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” reasoning as to why he and the rest of the jury members did not find Wesintein guilty of rape in the first degree. Drew said, although testimony from Jessica Mann implied no consent was given during her sexual assault by Weinstein, there was “no physical compulsion with the threat of bodily harm or death” as a guilty verdict of predatory sexual assault requires.
Weinstein faces between five and 29 years — the maximum penalty for both charges together — in prison, and he will be sentenced Wednesday, March 11. His legal team is already planning an appeal of the charges, according to the Associated Press.
Additional charges in Los Angeles were filed against Weinstein before the Manhattan trial began.
It’s difficult to not have heard of the case that shook workplaces all around the U.S., even the world, igniting and popularizing the #MeToo Movement, and resulting in the “Weinstein effect.” The “Weinstein effect” inspired and led women and men to come forward with allegations regarding other powerful figures, and gave them the chance to finally be heard, seen and believed.
Although Drew said on “CBS This Morning” the #MeToo Movement did not impact the verdict and the jury was “not trying to send a message,” it did, nonetheless, especially to survivors.
Rose McGowan, actress, activist and one of the first survivors to report against Weinstein, told The New Yorker she hasn’t “exhaled in a long time.”
Even though Weinstein’s lawyers employed victim blaming tactics toward the six women, including Jessica Mann, Miriam Haley, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, Lauren Young and Annabella Sciorra, who testified against the former movie mogul, the guilty verdict sets a precedent for future cases. Despite a relationship appearing consensual in public eyes, “transactional” even, despite the myth of a “perfect victim,” the trial became a watershed moment for the #MeToo Movement.
NYT described the trial as a “crucial test in the effort to hold influential men accountable for sexual misconduct.”
Any victory, any justification and validation for survivors of Weinstein or of another influential, powerful predator or of a systematically abusive society, is not enough, but it’s a start.
It’s the hope that awareness and accountability can lead to education and a shift in societal norms and expectations before it gets too far next time.
However, as Vox points out, reporting for people of color, LGBTQIA+ people and immigrants continues to be difficult and potentially dangerous as these marginalized groups interact with the criminal justice system.
What is unfortunate and truly saddening about humanity is the fact that most consequences of these perpetrators were met to save image, not about seeking justice for those involved and stopping it from occurring again.
Major businesses and companies can fire or suspend whomever they want, but until the priority becomes protecting those with less power, less influence, over reputation, I will continue — as a woman — to be both repulsed and afraid.