LAW 202(07) – Fall 2020: The People of the State of New York v. Harvey Weinstein (2020): This writing assignment will pertain to the abovementioned case. You can research the above trial through various mediums (google, lexis, news articles, etc.) in order to answer the items listed below. Please write in full sentences and paragraphs, […]
According to the Harvard Business Review, about 71% of women in the United States who have faced harassment in the workplace do not report it because they are afraid that others will not support them or they will be fired (Johnson). That is why every victim of violence and harassment must have the opportunity to talk about what happened and see that she will not be judged. Most of the celebrities who spoke out against harassment in Hollywood said that the primary goal of what is happening is to stop using their power and social status for harassment and violence. The People of the State of New York v Harvey Weinstein (2020) was one case where women were not afraid of public condemnation. Therefore, this paper aims to analyze pre-trial motions, the trial process, and its outcomes.
The New York Times, on October 5, 2017, published an investigation into the famous Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. According to the publication, for decades, he was accused of harassment by the actress and subordinates (but he paid them off) (Kantor and Twohey). A few days later, a similar investigation appeared in The New Yorker. It has already referred to incidents of sexual violence (Farrow). Since then, more and more women have started talking every day about being harassed or abused by Harvey Weinstein. The oldest case of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged harassment, which became known to the media, happened as early as 1984 – with 20-year-old aspiring actress Tomie Ann-Roberts. She told The New York Times that Weinstein invited her to an audition in a hotel room, where he met her naked and lying in the bathtub (Kantor and Abrams). Dozens of women have shared similar stories after the publication of the investigation by The New York Times; most of them were silent for years and spoke only now. Many of them mention that they were stopped by confusion, a sense of shame, and fear of the scandal and personally of Weinstein. The producer tried to ensure that these cases did not become public and paid women for silence or intimidation. Weinstein’s assistant Emily Nestor recalled that, on his instructions, negative publications about his opponents could appear in the press (Farrow). Actress Lauren Holly, who also faced Weinstein’s harassment, said that influential people in Hollywood advised her to keep quiet and not speak out against the producer because it’s Harvey Weinstein (Lockett). Thus, Harvey Weinstein’s victims were silent for a long time because they feared losing their careers.
After the scandalous article, several famous Hollywood actresses admitted they also became victims of Harvey Weinstein’s harassment. According to the women, Weinstein offered them a successful career in exchange for an intimate relationship. The hashtag #MeToo went viral on Twitter, with nearly a hundred women in the industry talking about harassment or violence by Harvey Weinstein. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, Salma Hayek, Lea Seydoux, and Rose McGowan are among them (Kantor and Abrams). Many admitted that they received financial compensation from him and said this was the only way to get the upper hand: it seemed impossible to win a harassment case against an influential man in the 1980s and 1990s. Angelina Jolie said that after Weinstein’s indecent proposal tried to avoid him. Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow also shared her unpleasant memories (Kantor and Abrams). According to the actress, when she starred in the movie Emma, based on the novel by Jane Austen, the famous producer called her to his room and offered to get a massage. Colleagues and statesmen in different countries turned away from the famous and influential Weinstein: he was stripped of his membership in the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) and the Producers Guild of America (Tartaglione). The producer’s wife, Georgina Chapman, filed for divorce from Weinstein five days after the publication of the scandalous material. She told the British newspaper The Sun that her heart groans in pain for everyone who suffered from her husband’s unforgivable actions (Kavanagh). Thus, the accusations of women completely “ruined” Weinstein’s life.
On May 25, 2018, US authorities arrested the producer. More than 80 women had made accusations against him by that time, and several victims had publicly accused Weinstein of rape (Helmore). He was later released on bail of $ 1 million. The court hearings began on June 5 of the same year, when he declared his innocence of rape and other sexual crimes. In December 2019, Weinstein agreed to pay $ 25 million in a civil action to 30 actresses, former employees of The Weinstein Company, and potentially sexual harassment applicants (Twohey and Kantor). The producer won’t have to admit guilt. Some of the women refused to participate in lengthy criminal proceedings. On the contrary, some did not agree to take monetary compensation and, through an appeal, will try to get Weinstein to plead guilty. For most, civil procedure is the only legal way to achieve justice. Thus, in New York on Monday, January 6, 2020, the trial of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexual harassment, began (Jacobs). The court will consider only two cases – charges against the 67-year-old Hollywood tycoon of rape and forced oral sex in 2013 and 2006.
Throughout the trial, Weinstein’s lawyers insisted that he did not force anyone and that sex was always voluntary. The defense tried to undermine the credibility of the testimony of the women. In cases of this kind, when the decision is made by the jury (“ordinary” people without special legal and psychological knowledge), the defense most often acts manipulatively and relies on victim-blaming (Tolentino). The victims are accused of knowing what they were doing, doing it voluntarily, and even provoking the rapist out of selfish motives. It is followed invariably by the mention that the victims hid the physical and emotional trauma inflicted on them for too long, which means that they were looking for an opportune moment to rename their regrets as rape (Tolentino). It was on these arguments that Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno insisted, convincing the jury that they were the last line of defense against the prosecutor’s office’s too persistent and consistent actions.
Addressing the jury, the judge directly instructed them not to turn the Weinstein case into a referendum on the #MeToo issue as a whole but to consider only specific charges brought against a specific person. The lawyers rested on the fact that the victims did not tell about the incident immediately and were guided by their benefit, entering into contact with the producer. To back up their arguments, the defense brought in physical evidence – “dozens of emails” sent to Weinstein by an anonymous victim “immediately after” he allegedly raped her in 2013 (Melas). The correspondence lasted four years, and they describe the messages as “detailed,” “warm,” and “complementary.” Weinstein’s lawyers tried to refute the second victim’s accusations, Mimi Haley, using an SMS she sent in February 2007, seven months after the incident at Weinstein’s apartment. According to court documents, Hayley wrote, “ Hi! Just wondering if u have any news on whether Harvey will have time to see me before he leaves? X Miriam” (Twohey). However, her lawyers called this evidence “speculation.” Weinstein’s defense intended to show these letters in a separate presentation. However, Judge Burke only allowed their contents to be mentioned in their opening statement.
Two years after the allegations arose, in February 2020, a New York jury concluded that Weinstein was guilty of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and first-degree sexual crimes against Mimi Haley, who worked as a production assistant at one of his television projects in 2006. The maximum sentence for criminal acts of a sexual nature is 25 years in prison, while third-degree rape is punishable by up to five years in prison. One of the jury representatives stressed that the decision was not influenced by external factors (primarily the #MeToo movement), and the verdict was made solely based on the information provided during the process. A jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on three more counts, including more severe rape, for which he could face life in prison (Michallon). During the meeting on March 11, Weinstein decided to speak, although he was silent at all previous ones, and his lawyers advised him not to speak now. In a somewhat chaotic 20-minute speech, he made excuses and talked about his charitable activities, mainly how he provided financial support to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and criticized the American justice system. However, these statements did not help him.
As Maddaus from Variety reported, on March 9, 2020, Weinstein’s defense asked for a minimum term of five years in prison for their client. The lawyers asked the court to pay attention to the producer’s charitable work and how much society had already punished him. However, on March 11, 2020, the New York State Supreme Court announced the sentence – 23 years in prison (Ransom). For coercion into oral sex of assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and the rape of actress Jessica Mann on March 18, 2013, at a hotel in Manhattan. Weinstein heard the verdict in a wheelchair. Thus, Weinstein was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual acts (Ransom). On the other three counts, the jury found the producer unproven. Note that he was acquitted on charges of sexual crimes of a “predatory” nature, which even threatened Weinstein with a life sentence. Thus, Weinstein is officially guilty of the Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann cases.
The main arguments for the conclusion of Harvey Weinstein were the rape of a woman in 2013 and the coercion of another victim into oral sex in 2006. The Harvey Weinstein case became a precedent in both the legal and social sense, not only because the problem of harassment and violence was first discussed so openly and publicly precisely in legal nuances and details, but also because in the public consciousness, there was clearly a breakdown of concepts into which previously relied on defense in such cases. The decision made by the jury is great evidence of this. I believe Harvey Weinstein is guilty and should have received a life sentence. However, the jury did not see Weinstein guilty of the predatory sexual assault. Also, even though at least 80 women accused Weinstein of inappropriate behavior for decades, most of these complaints did not lead to trial due to the statute of limitations. Thus, otherwise, Harvey Weinstein would have received a life sentence. Weinstein should have been punished as harshly as possible since the violence against women has continued for decades, and the defendant himself has no remorse. Of course, the court’s decision in New York is not final. Weinstein’s lawyers are likely to appeal in hopes of commuting the sentence, but whether this appeal will be upheld remains to be seen. However, even if the producer’s lawyers manage to justify their client in New York entirely, Weinstein will probably not see a quiet life for a long time. The case against him (also on charges of rape committed in 2013) is under investigation in California, and the Los Angeles prosecutor’s office has already begun the process of extradition of Weinstein. Also, the London police have been investigating several cases of sexual harassment by Weinstein since 2017, which may also end up not in the most pleasant way for him.
Farrow, Ronan. “From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories.” The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2017, www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-Harvey-Weinstein’s-accusers-tell-their-stories. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Helmore, Edward. “What is Harvey Weinstein Charged with – And What Happens Next?” The Guardian, 24 Feb. 2020, www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/25/harvey-Weinstein-arrest-what-charges-happens-next-explained. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Jacobs, Shayna. “Harvey Weinstein Charged With Multiple Sex Crimes in Los Angeles on the Same Day His Trial Begins in New York.” The Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/los-Angeles-charges-announced-against-Harvey-Weinstein-as-his-manhattan-trial-begins/2020/01/06/74f3fb20-30b4-11ea-9313-6cba89b1b9fb_story.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Johnson, Stefanie K., et al. “Why We Fail to Report Sexual Harassment.” Harvard Business Review, 4 Oct. 2016, hbr.org/2016/10/why-we-fail-to-report-sexual-harassment. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Kantor, Jodi, and Rachel Abrams. “Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Others Say Weinstein Harassed Them.” The New York Times, 10 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/us/gwyneth-Paltrow-Angelina-Jolie-Harvey-weinstein.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Kantor, Jodi, and Megan Twohey. “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades.” The New York Times, 5 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html?_r=0. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Kavanagh, Joanne. “Meet Georgina Chapman – Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife.” The Sun, 25 Feb. 2020, www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/4625426/harvey-weinstein-wife-Georgina-divorce-verdict-sex-crimes/. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Lockett, Dee. “Actress Lauren Holly on Harvey Weinstein Encounter.” Vulture, 16 Oct. 2017, www.vulture.com/2017/10/lauren-holly-says-she-pushed-weinstein-and-ran.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Maddaus, Gene. “Weinstein Defense Team Cites Charitable Work, Asks for Five-Year Sentence.” Variety, 10 Mar. 2020, variety.com/2020/film/news/weinstein-defense-team-cites-charitable-work-asks-for-five-year-sentence-1203528507/. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Melas, Chloe. “Harvey Weinstein Seeks Dismissal of Criminal Charges.” CNN, 4 Aug. 2018, edition.cnn.com/2018/08/03/entertainment/harvey-weinstein-dismissal-rape-charges/index.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Michallon, Clémence. “Weinstein Jury Will Be Comprised of Seven Men and Five Women.” The Independent, 17 Jan. 2020, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/harvey-weinstein-trial-jury-selection-rape-allegations-a9289321.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Ransom, Jan. “Harvey Weinstein’s Stunning Downfall: 23 Years in Prison.” The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/nyregion/harvey-weinstein-sentencing.html.
Tartaglione, Nancy. “BAFTA Formally Terminates Harvey Weinstein Membership.” Deadline, 2 Feb. 2018, deadline.com/2018/02/harvey-weinstein-bafta-membership-terminated-official-1202277086/. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Tolentino, Jia. “The Opening Statements in the Harvey Weinstein Trial and the Undermining of #MeToo.” The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2020, www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/the-opening-statements-in-the-Harvey-weinstein-trial-and-the-undermining-of-me too. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Twohey, Megan, et al. “All Bets Are Off As Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Assault Trial Opens Today.” The New York Times, 5 Jan. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/us/harvey-weinstein-trial.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
Twohey, Megan, and Jodi Kantor. “Weinstein and His Accusers Reach Tentative $25 Million Deal.” The New York Times, 11 Dec. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/us/harvey-weinstein-settlement.html. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
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Published On: 01-01-1970