On Monday, in a Manhattan courtroom, seven women and five men refused to look away. They instead looked squarely at Mr. Weinstein’s conduct and found him guilty of two felony sex crimes. The jury’s verdict was a singular moment in the #MeToo movement, a statement that any man who sexually mistreats women in the workplace, no matter his wealth or prestige, can be held to account.
After a six-week trial and five days of deliberations, the jury convicted the former producer on two charges: raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a Manhattan hotel in 2013 and sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in his New York apartment in 2006. The jury acquitted him of the most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which carried a possible life sentence. The not-guilty findings on those charges, which would have rested on a pattern of conduct, don’t diminish the importance of the justice rendered in a case that was fraught with legal complexities and social and political overtones.
Prosecutors did not have forensic evidence or corroborating witnesses to any of the assaults. Instead, they relied on the harrowing testimony of a half-dozen women on how Mr. Weinstein used his influence and the promise of potential acting roles to coerce them into degrading sexual encounters. Some of the cases were too old to prosecute or occurred outside New York’s jurisdiction. Mr. Weinstein’s defense team had insisted the encounters were consensual. The lawyers sought to discredit Ms. Mann and Ms. Haleyi by questioning why they continued to stay in touch with Mr. Weinstein after the sexual assaults, including even having consensual sex with him.
It is notable, even cheering, that the jury believed Ms. Mann and Ms. Haleyi, rejecting the defense’s appeal to old myths about sexual assault victims — questioning their choices and their behavior — to paint them as liars or manipulators. The jury seemed to understand that the trauma of sexual assault can result in different reactions and behaviors and that the psychological power Mr. Weinstein used to exploit his victims was as real and dangerous as any weapon. We hope the bravery of these women coming forward to tell their stories under terrifying circumstances — and the fact that they were believed — will empower others who have been victimized.
We hope too that the sight of Mr. Weinstein, 67, being immediately handcuffed and taken to jail to await sentencing — and he faces up to 29 years — will help deter the next man who thinks he can use his power to assault and abuse women in the workplace.