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A dozen New Yorkers on Monday found Harvey Weinstein guilty of criminal sexual assault and third-degree rape based on the testimony of former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley and one-time aspiring actress Jessica Mann, respectively, prompting others who have accused him of misconduct and their representatives to praise survivors and jurors.
Mira Sorvino, who says she was sexually harassed and blacklisted by Weinstein, wrote on Twitter: “The beginning of #justice. More to come, my sisters. #weinsteinguilty.”
Rosanna Arquette, who says Weinstein derailed her career after she rejected him, also responded to the verdict on Twitter: “Gratitude to the brave women who’ve testified and to the jury for seeing through the dirty tactics of the defense. [W]e will change the laws in the future so that rape victims are heard and not discredited and so that it’s easier for people to report their rapes.”
Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent three women (Kaja Sokola, Wedil David and Dominique Huett) who are suing Weinstein and Tarale Wullf, who testified as a Molineux witness, issued a joint statement in response to the verdict. “While we cannot undo the harm that Weinstein has caused to so many victims, hopefully today can bring about some sense of healing,” it reads.
“We are thrilled that the jury has found Weinstein guilty and are confident that our client Tarale Wulff played a significant role in that outcome,” the statement continues. “All of the survivors who participated in the criminal trial should be applauded for bringing about some sense of justice. We are also grateful to the entire team at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that worked tirelessly in preparing and presenting this case. We are now even more confident that Weinstein and his enablers will be found liable in the civil courts and we will continue to object to the one-sided civil settlement that has been proposed.”
Annabella Sciorra, who testified during the trial, also issued a statement on the verdict: “My testimony was painful but necessary. I spoke for myself and with the strength of the eighty plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart. While we hope for continued righteous outcomes that bring absolute justice, we can never regret breaking the silence. For in speaking truth to power we pave the way for a more just culture, free of the scourge of violence against women.”
Rose McGowan, speaking on a press conference phone call with other Weinstein accusers collectively known as the Silence Breakers, called the verdict “a huge step forward in collective healing,” recalling how she spoke out against the former movie mogul 20 years ago.”For once he won’t be sitting comfortably,” she said of Weinstein. “For once he will know what it’s like to have power wrapped around his neck. Today is not a referendum on #MeToo. This is taking out the trash. What I wanted to do was cause a massive cultural reset. We achieved that already with what happened. Today, the trash man came and he said to all of the little girls and little boys in the world someday maybe you too can have a voice. We’re in a privileged position. Only two percent of rapes get convictions. It’s a bizarre thing to feel privileged over being able to have a voice after being raped, but here we are. I believe we can be better as a world, as people, as humans. Today is one more step forward in that direction.”
The women — joining from New York, Los Angeles, London, New Zealand and elsewhere — were understandably emotional as they shared their happiness and relief at the verdict and gratitude for the other women who came forward, while acknowledging their disappointment that Weinstein wasn’t convicted of predatory sexual assault and the work still to be done in terms of changing laws and in the Los Angeles case.
Other high-profile accusers who shared their reaction to the verdict on the call included Sorvino, Lauren Sivan and Rowena Chiu.
“This was such a narrow legal hallway to walk down and many of us braced ourselves for a not guilty verdict. … Today was a huge victory,” Sivan said. “It really shows that victim-shaming will not work as a defense anymore. We saw it during the [Bill] Cosby case and now it’s being confirmed during the Harvey Weinstein case. There’s no such thing as a perfect victim, a victim that didn’t keep in contact, that didn’t have consensual acts. It shows that rape is rape, sexual assault is sexual assault. No matter the victims’ behavior. No matter what they wore, what they said, what they did. I’m grateful that the jury saw through that and I hope this really resets the legal system to catch up with the cultural movement that we have started and hopefully younger generations will make sure moves forward and not backwards.”
Chiu reflected on how far she has come from the fall of 2017 when reporters were trying to track her down but she wasn’t yet ready to go public with her story. “Two years ago I didn’t have a voice and today I have a voice that is amplified beyond any of my expectations,” she said in part, adding that she wouldn’t stop raising her voice for women of color and those who are underrepresented and working for hourly wages.
Sorvino also took a moment to acknowledge Sciorra, whose testimony that Weinstein raped and forcibly performed oral sex on her in the mid-1990s was key to the charge of predatory sexual assault. (Weinstein was acquitted of those charges.) Sorvino said that she received a call from her longtime acquaintance after going public with her own claims against Weinstein in a story by Ronan Farrow. It was then that Sciorra told Sorvino she had been raped by Weinstein and that it was because Sorvino spoke out that Sciorra chose to, as well.
Jasmine Lobe called the verdict a “watershed moment in history,” and “a moment that will never be forgotten” while Lisette Anthony said, “This is a day that truth has won. This is a momentous day and this is a day that hiding behind petty transactional defenses were slaughtered. That’s what we did.”
Caitlin Dulany said in part, “I have a renewed sense of faith that women will be believed when they come forward. This is absolutely a day of reckoning for Harvey Weinstein. … We were really hoping to change the world with this, and I think today is a really good indication that we are on that road to changing the world in terms of survivors. To me it’s like the sky is blue again. I am very emotional. I am thrilled. I just wanted to thank all of the women who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, this man who seemed impervious to the law no matter who he harmed and for how long for so many years.”
Indeed, Zoe Brock, echoing the doubts and anxiety experienced by Sivan and others as they awaited the verdict, admitted she was crying as she phoned in from New Zealand because she “expected the worst, because for us the worst keeps happening, especially in Hollywood for sexual assault victims.”
The former model further explained that when director Roman Polanski received a standing ovation at last year’s Venice Film Festival, she thought that indicated that Weinstein would be acquitted, make a comeback and go to the Oscars. “But that’s not going to happen, because Harvey Weinstein’s a convicted rapist,” said Brock, adding that she was “so happy” he was “sitting in jail.”
Later in a phone call with The Hollywood Reporter, Dulany added, “I was very focused on the predatory sexual assault charges because he is a predator. He has hurt so many women and I see him as a real danger to society. And when the verdict came down that the jury was convicting him on counts for harming both of those women and I realized that he will be forever known as a serial rapist, I was shocked and thrilled. We’ve worked so hard.”
She added that many of the Silence Breakers have been speaking in a group text all weekend about a possible verdict to come. “There was such concern among us that that without a guilty verdict, everything that we’ve been fighting for would not come to fruition. Everything that we believe, everything that we’ve been working for – the way that Donna Rotunno attacked those witnesses, it almost felt like a setback in and of itself. I think that it was very difficult for any of us to really believe that this might happen,” she said. “History has shown us that women put up the fight – look at Christine Blasey Ford – and then the powerful men win. We were very concerned about that scenario happening here.”
Similarly, Louise Godbold told THR that she has hope for survivors. “I think what’s so beautiful is that as Harvey’s star is declining, and he’s finding himself in a cell in Rikers tonight, ours are ascending in terms of what we have achieved coming from not just putting Harvey in jail but how we’ve come together. And we’ve worked together on laws. We’ve worked together on safety committees in the industry,” said Godbold. “And this work is going to be our legacy, which is so very much in contrast to Harvey’s legacy.”
Other women who shared their reactions to the verdict on the call include Sarah Ann Masse, Louisette Geiss, Larissa Gomes, Dawn Dunning, Paula Williams, Lisa Rose, Erika Rosenbaum and Jessica Barth.
Salma Hayek, who wrote about her own experience with Weinstein, accusing the mogul, in an essay for the New York Times in December 2017, of repeated sexual harassment during the filming of her Oscar-winning movie, Frida, which was released by Weinstein’s Miramax, spoke briefly about the verdict at the Berlin Film Festival.
“I just think that it’s good that people can see that there are consequences for the things we do because for many years there were not,” Hayek told the Associated Press. “So I am glad the justice system supported the women that had to suffer and had the courage to come out and fight for their rights and respect.”
Additional reporting by Tara Bitran.
Feb. 27, 11:46 a.m. This story has been updated with Salma Hayek’s comments on the verdict.
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