The Conviction of Harvey Weinstein

Kerry Matthews, Staff writer

On Oct. 5, 2017, the “New York Times” published an article detailing sexual assault accusations by several women against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. On Feb. 24, 2020, Weinstein was found guilty of rape and criminal sexual act. 

Following the release of the first article, more and more women came forward with accusations against the producer. The number of accusers is reported to have reached 111. Accusations included rape, nonconsensual touching and exposure, and several women working at his company, The Weinstein Company, claimed to have witnessed or experienced sexual misconduct within the workplace. People claimed that Weinstein used business excuses to lure women into private areas with him to make sexual advances towards them. For example, at his company, an executive claimed that Weinstein would call a meeting to have others in the room but would then dismiss them in order to get a woman alone. 

Weinstein kept years of sexual harassment and assault hidden with the culture of complacency in his company and the power imbalance between him and these women. As a long-time Hollywood mogul, Weinstein held a lot of sway over careers. He used this power to gain sexual favors in exchange for parts in films. Any women who came forward were met with punishment from Weinstein, including essentially blacklisting them amongst parts of the Hollywood community. 

Only six women accused him at his actual trial. Those women were Annabella Sciorra, Miriam Haley, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, Jessica Mann and Lauren Young. Haley claimed Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her, relating to the charges of predatory sexual assault and criminal sexual act in the first degree. Mann and Sciorra both accused Weinstein of rape, both reporting that the harassment continued for years after the initial assault. Dunning claimed that Weinstein told her she could have a movie part if she would have a three-way with him and that she then left the room and never pursued acting again. Wulff and Young share stories of Weinstein masturbating in front of them. 

The stories of Dunning, Wulff and Young are not part of the criminal charges, but they serve to show a pattern of abuse. Sciorra, Haley and Mann provide testimony that encompasses two charges of rape, one of criminal sexual act in the first degree, and two of predatory sexual assault. Predatory sexual assault is the most severe, but the jury found him not guilty on the charges. Predatory sexual assault charges on their own could hold a conviction maximum of life in prison. 

However, Weinstein’s age and deteriorating health suggest that he could end up spending the rest of his life in prison. He faces up to 25 years in jail for the crimes he was charged within New York, and he still awaits charges in Los Angeles. 

People across social media, including women like Hilary Clinton, have expressed their happiness over his conviction. Many see this trial as a reflection of the impact made by the MeToo movement and hope that the culture of sexual harassment in Hollywood and across all fields will end. The downfall of Weinstein, many hope, will serve as a message to all survivors to come forward with their stories and make their voices heard.