Weinstein: Invulnerable no more
It could just as well have been the red carpet, as cameras flashed and reporters shouted, “Harvey! Harvey!” said Kevin Fallon in TheDailyBeast.com. But, with a “sinister grin,” Harvey Weinstein was turning himself in for arraignment at a Manhattan police precinct, where he was charged with raping an unnamed woman and forcing actress Lucia Evans to perform a sex act on him. For decades, the powerful Hollywood producer appeared invulnerable, and the sight of him in handcuffs was a major victory for the #MeToo movement, which began last fall when more than 80 women came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse. His “transformation from mogul to perp” is a watershed moment, said Melena Ryzik in The New York Times. This prosecution should send a clear message to abusers everywhere: “Stop behaving badly, or beware the consequences.”
Sadly, it’s no mystery why Weinstein arrived with a smirk, said Maureen Callahan in NYPost.com. He “strode into court knowing he’d stride right back out” after paying $1 million to post bail, and his ultimate fate remains far from certain. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, successfully defended Dominique Strauss-Kahn against sexual assault charges, and says Weinstein “fully expects to be exonerated.” Brafman even had the gall to tell the judge, “Mr. Weinstein did not create the casting couch in Hollywood,” indicating the defense will claim that the director’s accusers knowingly traded sex for stardom. Still, Weinstein is in real trouble, said Eliana Dockterman in Time.com. Authorities in Los Angeles and London are also looking into various allegations of assault, and Weinstein faces a federal investigation and nearly a dozen lawsuits. Many of Weinstein’s accusers could be asked to testify “to establish a pattern of bad behavior,” a strategy that helped convict Bill Cosby.
Until recently, monsters like Cosby and Weinstein were nearly impossible to prosecute, said attorney Caroline Polisi in CNN.com. They would put their accusers on trial, and use their vast resources to muddy the issue of consent. But #MeToo has brought about not just a cultural but also “a legal inflection point.” Accusations of sexual assault and harassment against powerful men have a new credibility—bolstered by the willingness of multiple women to testify about what they endured. #MeToo has “fundamentally altered our collective consciousness,” and in the end, Weinstein’s victims may just wipe that smirk off his face. ■