Courtesy of The New York Times
By Franchetta Groves
Harvey Weinstein, a former film producer, and his laywers have been working to clear his name from accusations of rape and sexual assault. On Feb. 26, Weinstein was able to avoid being charged on two more serious crimes, but he did not escape being convicted on two charges of sexual assault in the third degree.
Weinstein originally faced charges in 2015 for inappropriate groping, yet the charges were dropped after the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., found there to be a lack of evidence. However, as more charges were being brought against the movie mogul from publications, such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, pressure was put on New York State prosecutors to investigate why the charges had been dropped.
It was discovered that Vance Jr. had received campaign donations from Weinstein. This led to a new prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, being appointed to the case. This decision contributed to tensions between the police and prosecutors as the former had been a veteran sex crimes prosecutor. However, the decision to put Illuzzi in charge of the case began a more thorough investigation which resulted in the arrest of Weinstein.
Finally in May of 2018, Weinstein was arrested on charges of rape and sexual criminal act. After these charges, Weinstein was able to delay his trial by changing lawyers in 2019.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for women empowerment,” said freshman business major Sophia Cataldo. “Women can now be taken seriously.”
The trial lasted a month long and deliberations took a week. Accusations against Weinstein and other celebrities, including Kevin Spacey, in 2018 were key in starting the #MeToo movement online. While a juror on the trial said the verdict was not a direct message for the movement, for many this can be seen as a step towards dismantling powerful figures and systems.
“Anything that exposes is a step in the right direction,”said Emily Moriarty, a freshman engineering major. “Talking about it more makes it not something that people want to hide.”
Many hope that by showing support for women who have faced these crimes there will be less stigma coming forward. Katie Paiva, a freshman communications major, stated that she believes it is important to keep convicting both men and women who commit sexual crimes, especially in the workplace.
“To a woman who feels threatened or suppressed at her place of work, knowing that all these women came together to convict a man with so much power can give her the confidence to speak up against the injustice that she is facing,” said Paiva.