New York: Movie moghul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault, and the women who accused the disgraced Hollywood mogul welcomed the verdict. They termed it as the victory of the justice system and the ‘power of people who speak up’.
Weinstein, who has been accused of violating scores of women, was convicted last month of raping a once-aspiring actress in a hotel room here in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006.
The producer behind Oscar-winning films as Shakespeare in Love and Pulp Fiction was the first prominent Hollywood name to be accused for his alleged predatory behaviour in the bombshell expose October 5, 2017 by ‘The New York Times’ reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. It was followed by Ronan Farrow’s piece October 10 in ‘The New Yorker’.
The report sparked off the #MeToo movement, which empowered survivors of sexual assault, abuse and rape to raise their voice and hold the perpetrators responsible.
Actor Mira Sorvino, who was one of the first to go on record to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, said she cried ‘tears of amazement and gratitude’ after the sentence was pronounced.
“23 years! Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for his crimes of rape and sexual assault. I literally cried tears of amazement, gratitude that the justice system has worked on behalf of all of his victims today,” Sorvino tweeted Wednesday.
The ‘Silence Breakers’ group, which has spoken out against sexual harassment and assault and includes several Weinstein accusers like actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, released a statement after his sentencing.
“Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist. He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused. The Silence Breaker community was founded on solidarity, support and compassion. The New York trial has ended, but the ‘Silence Breakers’ will persist in our crusade for cultural change, justice and to have our voices heard,” the statement read.
Farrow tweeted about the power of those who speak up. “A lot of news underlines how hard it is to hold wealthy and connected people accountable. Today’s shows the power of people who speak up, from a position of far less power, at great personal risk. The Weinstein sentence reminds us of the importance of those sources and of leaders at news organisations who refused to kill the story-including the editors at the ‘New Yorker’ who published the first allegations of rape and assault about Weinstein,” tweeted Farrow.
More than 90 women, including Hollywood A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong’o, Lea Seydoux and Uma Thurman, eventually came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and sexual harassment after the news expose.
Rosanna Arquette, another member of the ‘Silence Breakers’, paid gratitude to McGowan, one of the first women to call out Weinstein, among scores of other ‘brave’ women who broke their silence.
“Gratitude to all the silence breakers especially Rose and all survivors of Weinstein to the brave women who testified and to the incredible investigative reporting of Ronan Farrow who uncovered the sabotage and spying and to David Remnick thank you Rich McKuen and NY Times,” Arquette wrote on the microblogging site.
After the sentencing, Kate Beckinsale recounted a 2001 incident with Weinstein that left her in tears. In 2017, the Underworld star accused the producer of inappropriate advances when she was a teenager.
In a lengthy Instagram post, the actor detailed a meeting with Weinstein that occurred a day after the New York premiere of Serendipity.
“These photos were taken at the premiere September 5 2001 of Serendipity. We all refused to go because holding a premiere mere weeks after 9/11 with the city still smoking felt like the most insensitive, tone deaf, disrespectful idea possible,” Beckinsale saidshe said.
Beckinsale said Weinstein ‘insisted’ on the premiere, and the morning after, Beckinsale and her toddler daughter Lily were invited to his home for a playdate with Weinstein’s daughter. She said the producer rained profanities at her for ‘ruining’ the film’s premiere by not wearing a short, tight dress.
The actor said Weinstein’s sentencing was ‘a huge relief to me on behalf of all the women he sexually assaulted or raped and I hope will be a deterrent to that sort of behavior in this and any other industry’.
Actor Olivia Munn, who was one of six women who came forward with sexual harassment and assault accusations against filmmaker Brett Ratner in the wake of #MeToo, hailed the Weinstein accusers for creating a ‘huge shift’ in the world.
“To the women who bravely testified against Weinstein + the Silence Breakers who courageously told their stories unsure of what repercussions might unfold: Your strength & resilience created a huge shift in the world and empowered millions of people. Myself included. Thank You,” the X-Men: Apocalypse star said in a tweet.
Weinstein was acquitted of the more serious charges against him of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault. Now that the executive has been sentenced, his lawyers can move forward with a promised appeal.