Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison on 11 March 2020, for his notorious lenghty list of sex crimes. The downfall of one of Hollywood’s most powerful men coincided with the rise of #MeToo, but does this signify the movement has come a full circle?
How Harvey Weinstein faced his fate
More than two years after allegations emerged about Weinstein, some of his victims finally had their chance to have their say in court. 12 jurors heard harrowing testimonies from six women who recounted their alleged assaults by the producer.
According to BBC News, Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault of actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and a production assistant, Mimi Haleyi in 2006. NBC News added he was finally sentenced to 20 years for criminal sexual act in the first degree and three years for rape in the third degree, to be served consecutively.
The Hollywood mogul could have escaped with as little as five years, but the judge’s decision was much closer to the maximum 29 years he faced. Additionally, the judge ruled for Weinstein to be registered as a sex offender.
Another high profile victim includes Sopranos star Annabella Sciorra, who alleged he had forced his way into her New York apartment and raped her some time in the winter of 1993/4. However, due to the amount of time passed since the alleged incident, it fell outside of New York’s statute of limitations and could not be charged separately.
Three other women were also permitted by the judge to appear as witnesses to help establish a pattern of behaviour and common motive. The victims were all aspiring actresses in their 20s, hoping to break into the industry.
Weinstein in the #MeToo era
The #MeToo kicked off in 2006 on Myspace by social activist Tarana Burke. She began using the phrase in a bid to raise awareness about sexual abuse and assault in the society. A decade later, the hashtag went viral in 2017, following the wave of Weistein’s sexual abuse allegations. Fast forward to 2020 and Weinstein’s sentencing represents a massive turning point for the #MeToo movement.
However, should this be celebrated?
Weinstein, who has become the poster child for sexual abuse in Hollywood, continued to play innocent. Before he was jailed, the 67 year old insisted he had “wonderful times” and “friendships” with his victims. He also admitted feeling “totally confused” about what was happening to him. “Thousands of men are losing due process. I’m worried about this country,” he added.
Additionally, comments made by his lawyer, Donna Rotunno, only served to illustrate the sheer scale of challenges that still lies ahead. When asked if she had ever been sexually assaulted herself, Rotunno responded: “I have not,” before pausing and adding: “because I would never put myself in that position”. She also suggested men should get written consent before engaging in sex.
What makes matters worse, is when you place Rotunno and Weinstein’s comments alongside one of the most powerful events in this saga, the harrowing three-day testimony of Mann. After being pressed to read an email which led to details of abuse earlier in her life, Mann started sobbing uncontrollably. After being excused from court The New York Times reported that she could be heard screaming in the back room.
So back to the above question, does Weinstein’s sentencing represent a victory for the #MeToo era? From the outside, it’s perfectly fine to give ourselves a pat on the back and consider this done and dusted. However, once you’ve digested and analysed the course of events mentioned above, the answer to the million-dollar question becomes a whole lot clearer – this is just the beginning.
Source: BBC News, The New York Times
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