February 28, 2020

Weinstein Convicted

Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of rape and sexual assault against two women… He was acquitted on the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.” AP News

Both sides celebrate the verdict as a victory for the #MeToo movement:

“It took enormous courage for Miriam Haleyi, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Marie Young to come forward and testify… All can now hold their heads high: Their courage is a symbol to others to come forward. The inherent messiness of the case made this prosecution, relying pretty exclusively on witness testimony, a risk: Kudos to Manhattan DA Cy Vance for going ahead, and for seeking conviction on more serious counts as well… his 100-plus accusers have not only guaranteed the end of his career and destruction of his reputation, they’ve helped permanently change the culture. No matter how powerful the man, anything remotely approaching Weinstein’s behavior has become very risky indeed. And that’s the biggest win of all.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“That Mr. Weinstein, 67, even stood trial was a remarkable anomaly. A vast majority of sexual assault cases never reach the courtroom. Most sexual assaults are never reported; of those that are, few ever result in arrest or prosecution. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network estimates that out of every thousand sexual assaults, only five lead to felony convictions… To be sure, #MeToo aims to accomplish much more than sending the worst offenders to prison. The movement’s reach is ambitious — it demands that we transform our culture of male sexual entitlement and the misconduct it begets. But legal accountability is part of this evolution.”
Deborah Tuerkheimer, New York Times

Both sides also see the verdict as an important step in the prosecution of rape cases:

“The jury found Weinstein guilty of raping Jessica Mann and criminally sexually assaulting Miriam Haley. This was a considerable achievement, because juries in the past have bought the ‘blame the victim’ defense Weinstein offered. Weinstein couldn’t have raped Mann, or forced himself on Haley, his lawyers argued, since each kept in contact with him afterward. The implication was that no rape victim would do that… [But] Rape victims behave in ways that are counterintuitive to a layperson’s expectations… Forensic psychologist Barbara Ziv testified that it is common for women not to report a rape to law enforcement, to deny, compartmentalize, or otherwise try to regain control by maintaining a relationship with their assailants…

“In the case of Weinstein, there was understandable fear that he would ruin the career prospects of any woman who went to the police. Haley explained that, instead of being pro-active, she wanted to ‘just put it away in a box and pretend like it didn’t happen’… What the jury understood, by convicting Weinstein, was that all of us need to update our image of the rapist. Weinstein was a monster, but he wasn’t the stranger in the bushes monster. He was the monster in the office, the hotel or the dorm, the one who is capable of committing rape in the context of ongoing relationships. For the jury to have understood this, and convicted Weinstein, is an important turning point.”
Jeffrey Abramson, Los Angeles Times

“This jury, with this verdict — imperfect though it may be, finding Weinstein not guilty on two counts of predatory sexual assault — has shattered the notion that there is a perfect rape victim. A jury with more men than women realized that a victim of sexual assault, especially one who feels her attacker wields continuous, real-world power over her fate, might have reason to remain in contact with him, to continue to have sex or profess love…

“We now have a much more dimensional, sympathetic and true understanding of how victims of sexual assault behave. We are now more likely to believe them, even when it would be easier to dismiss such paradoxes. Black and white thinking, as the jury found, doesn’t apply here. The truth is in the gray areas. And this verdict will, hopefully, have a reach far beyond Weinstein.”
Maureen Callahan, New York Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

The defense argued for a constricted framework of rape, one in which, in order to be believed, a victim would have to physically fight off her assailant (until, presumably, some unspecified point of injury and incapacitation), then spend the rest of her life telling anyone who’ll listen that one of the most powerful men in her industry has raped her. The jury refused to buy it. It is a testament to the work of the #MeToo movement’s advocates, many of whom had been doing anti-rape work for decades before Weinstein was publicly accused, that Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley’s stories were heard in all their complexity, subjected to the defense’s most punishing scrutiny, and still believed.”
Christina Cauterucci, Slate

“If a more balanced legal approach to sexual assault is going to become the norm instead of the exception, then, for a start, the law needs to change. State statutes of limitations need to be extended or eliminated to give victims the opportunity to come forward even years after a traumatic assault. (Now, in some states, the statute of limitations for felony sex crimes expires after 10 years or less.) Enforcement needs to change as well. Law enforcement authorities need to let women know that they will be listened to, and that their cases will be prosecuted quickly and thoroughly. Victims need to have confidence that their attacker’s DNA won’t be stashed away for decades in a file cabinet.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“You can see [Weinstein’s] conviction as a victory for these women, a testament to how powerful they can be, taking down an abuser with uncommon influence and wealth. Or you can see his conviction as too small a victory, won after too long and great a fight, a symbol not of how far we have come in taking sexual abuse seriously but of how far we still have to go. After all, more than 100 women accused Weinstein himself, and thousands of others came forward with their stories of sexual abuse by other men in the wake of the revelations against him. Why did it take so many?
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

I have a message for the pundit class: DO BETTER. Don’t tell me to be happy with scraps because historically women have been… I understand that these things things are hard to prove and that this was not an open and shut case, but maybe we need to change the laws around rape and sexual assault to greater encompass the me-too landscape. Not all rapes happen in deserted alleyways. Many rapes happen in the boss’ office or hotel room. Change the laws, erase the stigma. We need to be better than our parents and grandparents about sexual assault and rape. Let’s stop celebrating halfway victories just because they’re better than nothing.”
Molly Jong-Fast, Daily Beast

From the Right

“The court permitted testimony from victims of four similar acts to bolster proof of just two indicted acts. It is unusual for proof of uncharged crimes to be more extensive than that of charged crimes. Clearly, the defense will claim on appeal that the similar-act evidence inflamed the jury into convicting because Weinstein is a sociopath, rather than on the strength of the proof of the two sex acts actually charged… [But] The verdict will help the state rebut such claims. The fact that a jury of seven men and five women did not convict on the most serious charges, and that it convicted only on third-degree rather than first-degree rape (in the Mann incident), indicates that it was sober and discriminating in doing its job.”
Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“While the press ultimately published exposes on Weinstein, reports like Farrow’s on NBC implicated the media alongside the entertainment industry, showing how outlets were responsive to the producer’s pressure campaign. It’s telling that ‘one of the most open secrets in Hollywood’ remained outside the media spotlight for so long. To be clear, Weinstein and Weinstein alone is guilty for his disgusting behavior, and the justice brought to his accusers is Monday’s primary victory. But everyone knows more could have been done, and much sooner

“Weinstein visited the White House nine times during the Obama administration, and was a major donor to Democratic causes. In addition to his influence in Hollywood, Weinstein’s extensive political involvement continues to raise questions about years of complicity among self-interested elites, who arguably could have protected dozens of women from misconduct by taking action sooner… The hollow morality of our purportedly moral elites is a reality [that] Me Too, for all its faults, laid bare in months of disturbing news cycles. It is rightfully unsettling. It rightfully mingles with other concerns the public has about our ruling class, some of which drive them to the embrace of populists, waiting with open arms.”
Emily Jashinsky, The Federalist

“Half of the nation's top tax bracket knew he spent his nights raping women for sport. ‘I'm Harvey Weinstein,’ the producer used to tell those in his way. ‘You know what I can do.’ And thanks to the survivors brave enough to speak up and the rogue journalists bold enough to believe them, we do… Weinstein is a rapist. Those are the words journalists have spent more than three years waiting to write without that wretched ‘allegedly,’ words that his victims have spent decades waiting for the justice system to validate… For once, he'll have to read a world-famous story that he didn't get to make up. Weinstein is a rapist. And thus goes his legacy.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

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