Nell Scovell: 19 Lessons From Harvey Weinstein (Guest Column)

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Even as Hollywood cheers his sentencing, we are disheartened by how much further the industry needs to go to protect victims from powerful predators, says the writer-director.

Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein receiving a 23-year jail sentence was the fairy tale Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ending that I was hoping for.

Weinstein’s incarceration proves justice can be grossly delayed, but eventually delivered. We will never have a full accounting of his abusive behavior. In a recent Instagram post, actress Kate Beckinsale described a verbal lashing she received from Weinstein because he didn’t like what she wore to a premiere. After describing the producer’s grotesque tirade, Beckinsale writes, “And yes that was one of many experiences I had that there was no recourse for, and falls under no felony.”

The big takeaway from the case of Harvey Weinstein is “Don’t rape.” Yet, even as we cheer this ending, I am disheartened by how much further Hollywood needs to go to protect victims from powerful predators. Here are 19 non-felonious offenses that Weinstein got away with. They also count as lessons from this case.

1. You can bully and scream at employees for decades and get away with it. You can order your employees to see you “like a king” and cater to your whims, clean up your messes and absorb your daily abuse.

2. You can physically attack women, and if they push back, you can destroy their careers with impunity.

3. You can threaten Salma Hayek with intimidating words like, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.” You can force her to shoot scenes with full frontal nudity and damage her self-esteem even when she turns in an Oscar-nominated performance. You can take the joy out of the process of making art.

4. You can lie and say you had sex with Gwyneth Paltrow to pressure less-famous actresses into having sex with you.

5. You can operate criminally and cruelly for four decades and the movie business will look the other way. The New York Times reported that “At C.A.A., for example, at least eight talent agents were told that Mr. Weinstein had harassed or menaced female clients, but agents there continued to arrange private meetings.”

6. Even after 80-plus women call you out as a powerful sexual predator, you can try to trick the jury into thinking you are an infirm and harmless figure.

7. You can hire female criminal defense lawyer Donna Rotunno to happily blame those same victims for your behavior.

8. You can donate money to the campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and Vance will make charges go away, announcing there wasn’t enough evidence even though a sting operation had the perp on tape admitting that he had groped a woman and pressing her to come into his hotel room. 

9. You can enjoy the privilege of being a rich white male so instead of being known as “convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein,” media outlets will continue to refer to you as “disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

10. You can jerk off into a potted plant in a New York City restaurant and call that normal behavior.

11. You can hide behind NDAs for a really long time. 

12. You can be found guilty of rape and still have colleagues defend you. (Trust me, Bill Cosby is not the only person in Hollywood insisting Harvey got a raw deal.)

13. You can probably still rape a few women and get away with it. So far, only predators who raped in double-digits have been held accountable.

14. Even if you have erectile dysfunction, you can use penile injections — fetched by your assistants — to rape. 

15. You can threaten journalists like Kim Masters and Ronan Farrow and when they won’t back down from their investigations, you can pressure their bosses to kill their stories.

16. You can hire fancy lawyers to hire thugs and spies to stalk and terrorize actresses like Rose McGowan.

17. You can pull into court in a black SUV and not even glance at the victims who lined up to confront you. “Of course, he didn’t,” writes Sarah Ann Masse. “The man is a coward and a liar.”

18. You can sit in a courtroom and hear harrowing testimony about how you abused and harmed witnesses, and when a jury convicts you on two counts, your first reaction is that you were the victim. And even during sentencing, you can insist that the “crisis” is “there are many men who have been accused of abuse something, I think that none of us understood.” You have 23 years to figure that one out.

19. You can do untold physical, psychological and emotional damage to at least 87 women and never feel remorse or even acknowledge the pain you caused.

Nell Scovell is a writer-director who created ABC’s Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and authored Just the Funny Parts: … And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys' Club.