The takedown of Hollywood superpower Harvey Weinstein began in 2017, with a New York Times investigation that rattled his position in the industry, his fortune and his marriage. The influential producer had once been known for creating iconic films like Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love. However, decades of sexual abuse inflicted by Weinstein were uncovered in the last two years, culminating in a trial that began last month.
Almost a hundred women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or rape while working under him, revealing unequal power dynamics that allowed the producer to dictate women and their careers. The prosecutors submitted graphic details of these incidents in their opening statements, while the defense protested Weinstein being portrayed as a predatory serial offender, as it could influence the jury.
The seven men and five women in the jury were also a point of contention – six of the seven men were white and there were only two white women selected, even though most of the accusers were of the same demographic. The prosecutors objected to this and the defense openly eliminated more white women from the jury pool. After screening hundreds of prospective jurors, the court settled on three alternate jurors (a black woman, a white man and a Hispanic woman) who would only serve if any of the 12 withdrew. Weinstein himself has been fighting the “image” of being a dominating rapist by appearing frail on the walker he uses to attend the trial. This may seem inauthentic to most, considering his reputation of being aggressive, loud and overbearing in the film industry.
Accused of five felony counts, Mr. Weinstein’s defense is to plead ‘not guilty’. With accusations from women dating back to the early ‘90s, the Manhattan trial may boil down to a “he- says” versus what “80 women- say” situation. The main charges come from two women – Mimi Haleyi, his former production assistant, who says she was forced into oral sex by Weinstein, and actress Jessica Mann who says she was raped by him in 2013. The prosecutors are also building their case with testimonies from four other women who experienced sexual harassment and abuse from the Hollywood mogul.
The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra is one of them, who recounted Weinstein raping her in her own apartment in 1993. Actress Rosie Perez also testified to corroborate Sciorra’s accusation, as she was a close friend who Sciorra had confided in. Three other aspiring actresses and models – Tarale Wulff, Lauren Young and Dawn Dunning testified to horrific sexual acts inflicted upon them as well, uncovering a pattern of predatory behavior by Weinstein.
The Harvey Weinstein case has largely become a symbol of the #MeToo movement that became viral on social media channels. The movement triggered a slew of women around the globe to step forward and share their own experiences of sexual assault, rape or harassment, meant to empower women and bring awareness to the suppression and realness of their experiences- regardless of people who don’t believe them.