This is what justice looks like: Harvey Weinstein, once a Hollywood producer so untouchably powerful that his constant, openly predatory behavior towards women was one of Tinseltown’s longest-running open secrets, is now Harvey Weinstein, convicted rapist.
Pending the success of any appeal, a Manhattan jury’s finding on Monday that Weinstein committed a criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree rape means that he will spend between five and 29 years locked away.
Cheers for District Attorney Cy Vance’s prosecutors and for the justice system must be balanced by the recognition that Weinstein’s six-week trial showcased anew just how much victims — even relatively prominent and powerful ones — endure when they report sexual abuse, as defense attorneys sought to blame the women involved for what happened to them. They are forced to answer humiliating questions about their credibility, their personal choices and their appearance.
Fortunately, the jury of seven men and five women looked past those unseemly inquisitions and believed the Weinstein’s accusers based on the evidence.
The verdict also underlines the wisdom of New York State’s passage last year of a law lengthening the statute of limitations for some sexual assault cases from a narrow five-year window for second- and third-degree rape to 20 and 10 years, respectively.
Although dozens of women came forward in the fall of 2017 to tell their harrowing stories of being raped and abused by Weinstein, many were only speaking up after many years had passed. Monday’s verdict pertained to charges from just two women because the statute had run out to prosecute on so many other allegations.
After Bill Cosby’s fate and now Weinstein’s, the message has been sent: No matter how rich or powerful the man, no matter how many influential friends he may have, women have at least a sliver of hope that those who take sexual advantage will someday pay a price.