I was happy to be a part of history this morning, if only to “stand and wait” at the sentencing for Harvey Weinstein. Even the few “public seats” were given to the press. Only a handful of onlookers without press passes were allowed into the crowded courtroom.
The first person who the police cut off had been waiting since 6:10 AM for proceedings that were scheduled to start at 9:30. I’d arrived around 7:20 and was the 9th person on the waiting line. But as the group stood hopefully, even
knowing our chances to enter were slim, we felt honored to be able to cheer the prosecution team and the silence breakers who, indeed, dramatically expanded society’s view of sexual assault.
A quiet, almost inaudible “twenty-three,” from a bearded corrections officer, who had patiently tolerated complaints and questions throughout the entire Weinstein ordeal, ignited a chorus of “23”s that reverberated down the line like falling dominoes. The mood instantly changed from apprehension and expectation to vindication. The judge, James Burke, “got it!” He determined to lock Weinstein away for twenty-three years.
The drama moves to the street
Outside, the press gathered around the microphones set up for interviewing the principles in the case. Lead attorney Donna Rotunno spoke for the defense calling the judge’s sentence “obnoxious” and the judge “cowardly.” She claimed Weinstein “never had a fair shake.” In a total about-face from statements she had made previously, she said, “I’m not here to say he’s a victim.”
Gloria Allred, the attorney for a number of the silence breakers, proudly held up a sign that boldly read 20+3, and stated, “This is what justice looks like!” She read from the impact statement delivered by Mimi Haleyi saying that Weinstein is “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crime he committed against me and the impact it had.”
Opportunity for “Silence Breakers”
On the periphery, surrounded by press, were Weinstein survivors, including Ambra Battalana Guittierrez, whose single voice had been disregarded by Manhattan Prosecutor Cy Vance Jr.’s office back in 2015. She had bravely engaged in a “consensual intercept,” a phone call designed to elicit incriminating evidence. Never-the-less no charges were issued at the time.
A reporter asked if Vance’s office had been correct in his claim to have broken ground with this conviction and by his taking credit. Ambra, who has taken an active role in raising awareness in general society and the modeling community, politely demurred and conveyed she was happy to be part of the change. She will be testifying in the trial that will take place in California.
Harvey’s own words…..
The one most revealing awareness from this entire trial came directly from Harvey Weinstein’s mouth today….
After all the heart felt and excruciating testimony from six women, Weinstein still clings to the belief that despite his power differential and the violence he used to overwhelm and strip them of consent…….. “It is just I’m totally confused and I think men are confused about all of these issues.”
And he is entirely correct! Men (and some women) ARE confused about all “these issues.” The reason……. because our lawmakers, generation after generation, to this very day, have literally fallen over their feet to prevent our laws from correctly reflecting the true and incontrovertible truth about consent: Consent is Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement. When you force, coerce or deceive someone into sexual contact, you’re sexually assaulting, not seducing them! Our laws MUST make this point to all of society in order to guide people’s behavior and hold predators like Weinstein accountable on a regular basis.