Silence Breakers to Harvey Weinstein at Start of Trial: "We Aren't Going Anywhere"

Laura Barisonzi for TIME'S UP Foundation
Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan stand with fellow Silence Breakers Monday in Manhattan

On Monday, a group of Weinstein's accusers held a presser outside the Manhattan courthouse where he will face charges of rape and sexual assault. "I thank those testifying for standing, not just for themselves, but for all of us who will never have even one day in court," said Rose McGowan, who was flanked by Rosanna Arquette.

A group of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, who call themselves the Silence Breakers, represented the more than 90 women who came forward with reports of sexual misconduct when they hosted a press conference on the first day of the embattled Hollywood mogul's criminal trial on Monday morning.

Rosanna Arquette, Rose McGowan, Lauren Sivan, Louise Godbold, Dominique Huett, Sarah Ann Masse and Paula Williams stood together — wearing red to reclaim their power — in downtown New York City outside the courthouse where Weinstein will be facing charges of rape and sexual assault.

In the fall, the Silence Breakers hired a publicist through Time’s Up to share for the trial, former Joe Biden spokesperson Kendra Barkoff Lamy, at SKDKnickerbocker in Washington. “I believe that our presence is important right now; it’s just about supporting each other," Rosanna Arquette recently told The Hollywood Reporter while discussing plans to attend the first day of the trial. "This trial, yes, in the long run is for everyone. But this happened to us. It actually happened to our lives. Especially the rape victims, their lives have been shattered in trauma, in years of living with this. And many, many careers have been affected, including mine."

On Monday, Arquette was the first to step up to the podium and deliver the group's opening remarks. When technical difficulties and a nearby scuffle caused a delay, one attendee yelled out, "Respect for the survivors."

Silence followed as she began.

"As one of the Silence Breakers, I stand in solidarity with the brave survivors who will take the stand against Harvey Weinstein in this trial. While the emotion of the day runs high, I join these other brave women who were also harmed by Harvey Weinstein to say: We aren't going anywhere," said Arquette, reading a prepared statement to the crowd that had gathered.

"As we stand here at the beginning of a new year and a new decade: Time's Up. Time's Up on sexual harassment in all workplaces. Time's Up on blaming survivors. Time's Up on empty apologies without consequences. And Time's Up on the pervasive culture of silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein," she said. "These abusers that make it unsafe for women to go to work every morning, to take a business meeting or event, to report a crime without retaliation. We're here to ensure that the focus of this criminal case is on the perpetrator's actions, not his victims. And that justice is served. The truth will prevail. And whether it is this trial or in the future, Harvey will be held accountable for his actions."

Arquette has said she went to a hotel to get a script from Weinstein in the early '90s and he answered the door in a bathrobe and pulled her hand toward his crotch.

McGowan, who was one of the first women to speak out and help spark the #MeToo movement, said she was raped by Weinstein when she met with him in his hotel room, for what she thought would be a regular business meeting to discuss her career, at the '97 Sundance Film Festival.

"Dear Harvey," McGowan began, "no matter what lies you tell yourself, you did this. Today, Lady Justice is staring down a super predator: You."

She continued, "You brought this upon yourself by hurting so many. You have only yourself to blame. I came here today to see this through. I came here today to stand side by side with these other women who you also harmed and to be a voice for the voiceless, like I was for so long. You thought you could terrorize me and others into silence. You were wrong. We rose from your ashes. We rise together.

"That we've come to this moment of justice is staggering. The trial means so much to so many, but it will mean the most to the brave women testifying and to all of us silence breakers. I thank those testifying for standing, not just for themselves, but for all of us who will never have even one day in court. Today is a day for us to honor how far we've come and how much we've endured to get here. But it is not the end. Know this: we are free, we are beautiful, we are strong, and you will never take that from us. Most importantly, know that the Silence Breakers will never give up. Survivors will never give up."

Weinstein, who has pleaded not-guilty on five counts of rape and sexual assault against two unnamed accusers, faces a possible life sentence in prison. When taking the podium, Masse called the trial a "cultural reckoning regardless of its legal outcome. It is a victory to see Harvey Weinstein and the systems that have protected him for decades held accountable."

And Sivan, the reporter who has said Weinstein exposed himself, masturbated and quickly ejaculated into a nearby potted plant in 2007, addressed Weinstein's legal team, having said, "Just because one woman said it happened doesn't mean it's true." She replied, "What about 100 women who say it happened?" She then added, "I'm OK with being known as 'the potted plant girl' as long as he's forever known as the predator-rapist that he is."

Weinstein will stand trial in Manhattan before New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke beginning on Monday on charges of sexual assault. Cameras will not be permitted to film the proceedings, but media are allowed in a small gallery.

Monday's THR cover story explores the reasons to maintain such confidentiality in advance of the high-profile trial — both for the accusers and for Weinstein. Three "prior bad act" witnesses, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, Weinstein Co. production assistant Mimi Haleyi and an accuser yet to be identified are set to testify.