DomesticMOVIESPOLITICSPOP CULTUREElites: The Weinstein Trail

Several years ago, before the #Metoo movement had picked up speed Harvey Weinstein was known as one of if not the most powerful Producers in the world. “Me Too” began as an online phrase to empower victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault to come forward and tell their stories. This movement gained momentum and uncovered many chilling stories of people in power, the highest profile becoming Harvey Weinstein. Harvey and his brother co-founded Miramax...
J-Walk6 months ago33115 min
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Several years ago, before the #Metoo movement had picked up speed Harvey Weinstein was known as one of if not the most powerful Producers in the world. “Me Too” began as an online phrase to empower victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault to come forward and tell their stories. This movement gained momentum and uncovered many chilling stories of people in power, the highest profile becoming Harvey Weinstein. Harvey and his brother co-founded Miramax 1979 and odds are you probably have seen a movie or movies he has produced. He has collaborated with well known directors like Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, and Quinton Tarantino to name a few. Over the years his reputation proceeded him and the rumors followed as well. For years he had used his influence to manipulate his power in ways to coerce women to have sex with him. This would begin with inappropriate requests that would range from backrubs all the way to sex, in return he would make the women stars and boost their careers or so he said. Even more sinisterly the ones who denied his advances would have their reputations soiled in Hollywood telling the powers that be not to cast the “hard to work with” actresses. Ashely Judd and Mira Sorvino’s were some that came forward that were blacklisted. The issue of coming forward would be fear of losing your career and with someone this rich, this powerful, and this influential how far did reaches of his corruption go?

The allegations mounted and piled up even as his movies were defining the pop culture of a generation. This culture of sexual harassment continued at Miramax by Weinstein as recent as 2014 when a temporary employee Emily Nestor who worked there for only one day was badgered into a hotel meeting with Harvey and left the room screaming and crying after his sexual advances had become overwhelming.  Nestor disclosed the encounter to several Miramax executives resulting in a memo disclosing the “toxic environment for women at this company.” It was going to be sooner or later when all of this information would ultimately become public. In October of 2017 The New York Times would publish an exposé that would bring it all to light. This investigation found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades and during that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact. Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight separate settlements with women before the article became public.

The same day this story had dropped he took a leave of absence, apologized by saying “he had caused a lot of pain,” and publically disclosed he was working with a therapist to make an attempt to right his wrongs. Three days later he was sacked from the board by the very company that he had founded, Miramax was now facing public scrutiny of hiding this for years and could not take anymore of the negative publicity that had accumulated. Now that the misconduct had been made public more allegations had continued to come to the surface that included harassment, unwanted sexual advances, and even rape. As soon as one month later the NYPD had announced that they were creating a case against Weinstein citing a “credible and detailed narrative”, he eventually was charged with sexual misconduct, rape, and sexual abuse. He turned himself in on May 25th, 2018 on said charges and was released on one million dollars’ bail also agreeing to wearing a GPS tracker as well as surrendering his passport. Days later a grand jury in New York indicts Weinstein on charges of rape and sexual conduct, moving the case to trail. Five days later he formally pleads not guilty and within the next two months receives a second as well as a third sexual misconduct charge by two other women claiming an assault that mirrored the same pattern of the first charge. This was litigated for years, like many high profile cases do and only recently has been resolved.

The Defense

Harvey Weinstein’s Attorney Donna Rotunno repeatedly attacked the accusers claiming that they were fully aware of Weinstein’s intentions calling the sex consensual on all counts. She continued to do as much victim shaming as possible asserting that the women were embarrassed that they had slept with an “old fat man” to get ahead. Rotunno used the accusers’ emails and text messages where one woman bragged she was “blowing a super rich Hollywood producer” and emails signed with “Lots of Love” to Weinstein. His lawyer’s closing argument commented on the state of the industry and that the actresses made a “choice” to participate. Attorney Rotunno used the actress’ own words against them saying if they were so repulsed by him why did they continue to sleep with him? She claimed it was because at the time of the sexual encounter it was consensual due to the implication that Weinstein would in fact advance their career.

The Prosecution

The Prosecution brought up Weinstein’s illustrious career by naming his massive list of box office success, this was used to illustrate to the jury how much power this man had at one time if not most of his professional life. They also used the fact that all the witness who came forward to provide testimony for the case told extremely similar stories showing a pattern of salacious behavior. The Prosecutor also used the defense’s aggressive attacks against itself to further strengthen the testimony of the witnesses, why would these women face scrutiny, embarrassment, and the pain of reliving these events if they were false? The memos, emails, endless testimonies, left a paper trail of misconduct that was too hard for the jury of twelve to overlook.

The Verdict

After five days of deliberation the Jury found Weinstein guilty of first degree criminal sexual act and third degree rape. Instantaneously he was also acquitted of first degree rape and two counts of predatory assault. The 67-year-old faces up to 25 years in prison but he has yet to be sentenced. Regardless, in similar cases where the defendant has large funds to fight the case’s guilty verdict it is almost certain that it will be appealed. Judge James Burke has ordered that Weinstein is to be held in custody till his sentencing on March 11th, 2020.

Perspective

I am often left wondering is this just the tip of the iceberg and who were his coconspirators? How long has this been commonplace in Hollywood? How many lives has this monster destroyed? Victims of rape have a piece of their soul stolen that can never be replaced or repaired, its always there. I am happy that the #MeToo movement exposed this awful behavior and setting a standard showing that this will not be tolerated going forward. That being said one of the twelve jurors has come forward and said this this trail was not to set an example, “It would be an adulteration of the process to take outside factors and have that weigh on our decision-making process and eventual findings” and “took no joy in any aspect” of the process “This is a serious matter for serious crimes,” he went on.  I’m not trying to be a white knight here but the simple fact men as a whole need to be better. The world too long has put us in the driver’s seat and it might be time for us to share the wheel. One day I hope to be a father and would never want an animal like Weinstein to put his hand on my daughter, my friends, family members, or anyone for that matter.

A woman’s worth shouldn’t depend on how fuckable she is and as a men we should respect professional settings especially when we are in a position of power.

This is mainly a man problem but this is also a class problem look at Brock Turner, Matt Lauer, and Weinstein himself. Letting someone slide because of their status and influence is wrong on so many levels aside from just morality. Society has let them get off easy for too long, times up on these elites and their ability to slip through the cracks.

J-Walk

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