By Kennedy Haugen
On Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty on two counts of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree. Weinstein was acquitted of the most serious counts, two counts of predatory sexual assault.
Weinstein stands to face a possible sentence of between five and 29 years in prison for his crimes. But what does that mean? A huge keyword is possible. It means that a judge will now decide what level of punishment Weinstein should receive for his crimes. This means that there is a chance that Weinstein could only face five years for his charges of rape and criminal sexual assault. Can five years really constitute justice?
The verdict in Weinstein’s case just further proves that old white men in power will not truly be held accountable for crimes they commit. Five to 29 years doesn’t seem like enough when you realize that he could get a measly sentence of five years, maybe six or seven even. It just seems like an underwhelming end to a fight that’s been going on for years now.
All of this started back in 2015 when Ambra Battilana, an Italian model, reported that Weinstein groped her during a business meeting. There was a two-week investigation that resulted in no charges to Weinstein because there wasn’t enough evidence.
In 2017, Weinstein hired an investigator to figure out who was talking to reporters, among those was Annabella Sciorra, an actress known for her work on “The Sopranos.” Later that year, the New York Times and The New Yorker published articles including many accounts from women detailing harassment dating back to the 1990s. This year also saw the rise of the #MeToo movement.
During 2018, New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo ordered a review of the decision to not charge Weinstein in 2015. A new prosecutor was put on the investigation and Weinstein was arrested. Prosecutor added the charges of predatory sexual assault and another charge related to forced oral sex accusations. The charge for forcible oral sex charge was thrown out later in the year.
Weinstein delayed the trial in 2019 when his lawyer withdrew from the case and he had to find a different lawyer. It took nearly six months for Weinstein to settle on a legal team. By the end of 2019, prosecutors acquired a new indictment against Weinstein that allowed Sciorra to be called as a witness at the trial.
This year, Weinstein was also indicted in Los Angeles for raping one woman and groping and masturbating in front of a second in the span of two days in February 2013. Sciorra, Miram Haley, a former “Project Runway” assistant, and Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, testified in court, along with three other accusers, experts, and other witnesses. Feb. 18, 2020, the jury began deliberations and Feb. 24, Weinstein was found guilty on three of the five charges against him. Weinstein is allegedly already working on an appeal just days after he was convicted.
I’m not going to lie and I’m not going to flower things up, I think that Harvey Weinstein and his lawyer, Donna Rotunno are pieces of sh–. Weinstein, for obvious reasons, a man who had to have done something to make these women come out with accusations.
Weinstein and his team think that these women are going back on consensual interactions years later and hopping on a bandwagon. I don’t see that as being true, Weinstein is a man of power and unfortunately sexual assault victims don’t come out with accusations immediately because they’re scared. These women came out with the accusations when they saw other women going through the same thing.
I have a close friend who I trust with my life that just last year confided in me about her own sexual assault that happened four years ago. She told me that she’s been terrified of telling anyone because she knows that our hometown would be on her attacker’s side. If that’s her mindset with people who aren’t powerful, then it makes sense that it took this long for Weinstein’s accusers to come forward.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, sparks a whole different realm of anger in me. Her comments about the victims, the #MeToo movement and sexual assault frustrate me to no end. Rotunno was asked if she’s ever been a victim of sexual assault and her response was “I have not, because I would never put myself in that position.”
I can be honest and say that I’ve never been a victim of sexual assault, but I know many women who have been and they did not put themselves in those positions to be assaulted. They were all in places and positions where they thought they were safe and around trustworthy people.
Kennedy Haugen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org