Harvey Weinstein convicted of on two charges of sex crimes

February 25, 2020 • 7:30 am

Given the corroborating testimony about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior (over 90 women have made accusations), and the fact that there’s another trial coming up for him in Los Angeles, it was impossible—for me at least—to believe that he was innocent of using his power to coerce women into sex. Justice, then, appears to have been done: yesterday Weinstein was found guilty in New York of two of the five crimes of which he was charged: rape and criminal sexual assault, for which he faces up to 29 years in prison.

Weinstein was, however, acquitted of the most serious charges, including first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault, which could have put him away for life. But given the further charges against him in Los Angeles and the fact that he’s 67, he will surely spend the rest of his life in jail. (The charges in Los Angeles include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint, and for these he faces up to 28 additional years in jail.)

I was struck by his reaction as reported by the New York Times:

Mr. Weinstein sat motionless as the verdict was read.

“But I’m innocent,” he said three times to his lawyers, appearing stunned a few minutes later when he was handcuffed and two court officers led him off to jail to await sentencing. He was taken first to Bellevue Medical Center by ambulance after complaining of chest pains and showing signs of high blood pressure, his representatives said.

As I do not believe he’s at all innocent, this suggests that he still has no idea that what he did was a criminal act and not “consensual sex,” as his defense maintained. He’ll have the rest of his life to ponder what he did, and maybe he’ll decide that it was wrong. There will be an appeal, but I doubt it will be successful.

Weinstein now becomes a common criminal, living out his days in jail wearing an orange jumpsuit—a far cry from the luxurious life he had as a Hollywood producer. It is just deserts, and a just deterrent for others from using their power to force sex upon unwilling victims.

Here’s an ABC news video about the conviction and charges:

104 thoughts on “Harvey Weinstein convicted of on two charges of sex crimes

  1. Weinstein and Trump share a trait that is common among people with great degrees of power: the belief that they are somehow inherently superior to others and, thus, the rules of society do not apply to them. They are prime examples of Lord Acton’s famous statement: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is difficult to rein in the power of such individuals. The effort succeeded against Weinstein, but only after the many years of damage he inflicted on women. The effort against Trump is many times harder and, at the moment, success is far from guaranteed.

      1. Several people (including LBJ’s biographer Robert Caro) have amended the Lord Acton aphorism cited by historian above (accurately, I think) to: Power often corrupts, but it always reveals — reveals much about the power-wielder’s underlying character that is.

      2. Is sociopathy a necessary (if not sufficient) precursor to becoming “rich and powerful”? It certainly looks like it.

        1. I’ve often thought it helps. You don’t pull your punches or feel bad when you land them. Makes getting things done more efficient.

    1. While not wishing to deny the general proposition that power tends to corrupt, sexual power corruption seems far from clearcut. Some possible counter examples, where sex is least of concerns:

      Recent Past Emperors: Stalin, Hitler, Mao

      Current (whose Empires we most fear): Job & Gates; Zuckerberg, Bezos, the Google Twins, etc.

      1. You’re undoubtedly right about Hitler, and I dunno about Stalin (but we know about his henchman Beria), but chairman Mao used his position of power to obtain sex. He had syphilis, but nevertheless ‘washed’ the less attractive part of his anatomy in the young female Revolutionary Guards, who wore their aqcuired disease as a badge of honour, I’ve read. (According to the book written by his doctor).

        1. Wasn’t Mao the one that that war criminal Henry Kissinger joked around with about “power [being] the ultimate aphrodisiac”?

          Without it, neither one of those toads would’ve ever gotten laid.

        2. Even in the company of the dreadful people you mention, Stalin was probably the most evil. He was an unfeeling, vindictive and controlling coward who would do literally anything to keep himself in power.

          Stalin employed violence, intimidation and murder to control and destroy his political and personal oponents. He had no qualms about starving his peasants, or subjecting them to unfathomable hardships in order to pursue his ideology of collective farms. He was happy and self-entitled in his belief that citizens must face great pain in the pursuit of his extreme marxist beliefs. This never mattered to him; he lived as a Tsar would, eating caviar and sleeping in palaces, while expecting his populace to live lives of pain, squalor and existential dread.

          The man was a genius, he was also a monster. He had no conscience, seeing fit to kill oponents, friends, family and others if it seemed politically expeditious at the time. The number of arbitrary mass execution orders he signed is astronomical and he NEVER showed any concern for the thousands he was murdering. Instead, he often showed a macabre fascination regarding condemned prisoners, regularly asking of their last words and demeanour before being shot.

          With regard to sex and romance he was an incurable prude. He was disgusted by nudity, sexual suggestion and any physical contact of a sexual nature. His Bolshevik prudishness toward sex stayed with him all his life. My personal belief is that this was at least partially due to the hurt, anger and bewilderment he felt after his first wife, Nadia shot herself while he hosted a party in the Kremlin during the early 1930’s.

          You’re correct in saying Beria was a monster, but he was orders of magnitude less dreadful than Stalin. Stalin was despicably cowardly and violent in how he arbitraily used terror and murder to control others. He was the worst of the very worst, and one of the most eggregious and appalling people in history.

          1. Sounds like a standard-issue politician, but without the sexual lust. Scum of the universe, the lot of them.

        1. Different strokes for different folks — or different sociopathies for different sociopaths, as the case may be.

        1. What was Solomon’s body count – 300 wives and 700 concubines, or vice versa? Good enough to get a verse or three in the BuyBull, anyway.

  2. And well-deserved, seems to me. A piece of good news!

    I am reading A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.

    It’s very good and reads like watching a wreck in a NASCAR race; you can’t put it down.

    But it is quite depressing to read the continual litany of chaos, amorality, and insanity that has gone on and is going on the Trump White House (it’s even worse than you think).

    It’s hard to remember the early stuff (and boy, was there a lot of it) with all the crap since. It is wearing me down a bit and I may need to take a break from it.

    1. How I feel as well. Take the assassination of the Iranian general, where he gave the order and his generals were surprised. But the deed was done. And the news of that led to only a very stifled outcry. Then the Iranian retaliation, where in fact many U.S. soldiers were injured and some were not trivial. Nothing. Not a peep.
      Wtf. Wtf wtf wtf-ery-f.

      1. hen the Iranian retaliation, where in fact many U.S. soldiers were injured and some were not trivial. Nothing. Not a peep.

        Isn’t being maimed as a substitute for the head of state the entire purpose of being in the armed forces?
        Oh, sorry – my current reading of a book on the “Spanish Flu” is blinding me to the “send them abroad to die of horrible diseases” aspect of military service.

  3. Trump pardons seem, in part, to be directed at rich people who have committed crimes similar to his own. He shares an attraction to non-consensual sex and the rape of women with Weinstein. This might make Weinstein an ideal candidate for a last-minute pardon if he loses in 2020.

        1. Trump will probably try to pardon Weinstein anyhow, DESPITE Weinstein being convicted in a state court. Trump will claim he has the right. Trump is that obtuse.

        2. I have been advised that Weinstein is a big Democrat party donor. If so the Drumpf would be unlikely to consider pardoning him even if he could do so.

        3. Yet.
          If the Tangarine Shitgibbon is open to “state-grade” charges, I wouldn’t expect that loophole to last until the 2024 election. Or 2028, if his doctors and lawyers get the embalming and incantations right.

      1. This is correct. The President can pardon Federal crimes, and typically (always? it will depend on what the State constitution says) a State Governor can pardon State crimes.

  4. Thank goodness. Though it is sad that it is only near the end of a long career as a sexual predator that he was finally stopped.

  5. I didn’t follow this in the news. Was this forcible rape, or was this, “have sex with me and you’ll get a good role in a prestigious movie,” and then he didn’t follow through with his part?

    1. From what I know of the various cases, the circumstances do not lend themselves to the oversimplified dichotomy you pose.

  6. Donna Rotunno: “If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t go to the hotel room.”

    Now, I recognize that that’s merely a sound bite selected by ABC News to include in its story, perhaps taken out of context. But that anyone could say such a thing — let alone a woman with a legal education and courtroom experience — strikes me as extraordinary, and extraordinarily repugnant.

    Not to mention, just flat-ass WRONG, on so many levels. According to countless women who had it happen to them, Weinstein lured women to his hotel room under false pretenses in circumstances involving an extreme imbalance in power. And even were it otherwise, for a woman to agree merely to meet a man at his hotel room hardly constitutes consent to whatever might subsequently befall them.

    1. Indeed. If I park my car in a dodgy part of town there may be a greater risk of someone breaking into it than if I leave it in a more salubrious location but that in no way makes the felon who breaks into it any less guilty of a crime. The logic is no different for a woman who is victim of a sexual attack, yet rapists like Weinstein somehow seek (and often succceed) to transfer their guilt to the victim who somehow ‘asked for it’.

      1. I know I’m going to get yelled at for this but I don’t give a fig. I’m in a bad mood anyway, you lot can’t make it worse.

        Like all analogies, yours doesn’t quite get it right (that’s not a criticism! If any analogy got it exactly right, it wouldn’t BE an analogy).

        If you park your car in a dodgy part of town and it gets broken into, the person who did it is wholly responsible. But it can be said that you knew the risk when you parked it there. Depending on the circumstances, that can mean that you are partly responsible for the break-in. This is the reasoning behind why the police are sometimes (rightly) accused of entrapment.

        What does this mean for Weinstein? Not a damn thing. I hope he rots in there.

    2. Companies from out of town often use hotel rooms as job interview rooms. I’ve attended one such interview with a bank from the Cayman Islands. It was all very professional and the room was set up like a boardroom.

    3. I know women who think like this – it’s not that uncommon. The thought process goes like this: Look at that bad thing that happened to that woman! She must have done X or Y or Z. If I avoid doing X or Y or Z, then the bad thing won’t happen to me. That woman should have known that X or Y or Z would put her in a vulnerable position. She should have been more careful, and since she wasn’t careful, she’s got no one but herself to blame. I’m relieved that the bad thing won’t happen to me, because from now on I’m going to avoid X and Y and Z.

      {in this case, X is going to a meeting in a hotel room}

      And then there’s the related thought process, mostly to do with harassment at work, and it goes like this: I’ll never be harassed. If any man ever harassed me, I’d immediately stand up for myself! Any woman who gets harassed – she mustn’t have been willing to fight for herself. She must of have been a weakling. I’ll never let any man at work take advantage of me!

      And finally there’s the belief my current boss, a middle-aged woman, espouses: I’ve never been harassed at work! I don’t understand these women who say they’ve been harassed. They’re just whiners who want to complain about something.

      Needless to say, I’ve never ventured to ask her what her opinion of Weinstein is.

        1. Yeah so if you can control some variable you’ll be safe. It’s the same reason people try to blame sick people for their illness. Oh you got cancer, you probably ate something weird or used a wacko cream.

        2. Yes, it very much is a defense mechanism. It also leads to the women who hold such thoughts to distance themselves from other women who have had something bad happen to them. It’s part of the reason why women who’ve been raped or harassed are ostracized by other women.

          I’ve seen the ostracizing at work, when a woman has filed a harassment complaint. It’s akin to the opposite of sisterhood.

      1. Gabrielle, I think your comments are too simplistic. I hope very few people believe that “since she wasn’t careful, she’s got no one but herself to blame”. While none of the women’s actions reduce Weinstein’s guilt one iota, would you allow that some women had a spider-sense that perhaps they shouldn’t go up to the hotel room, that doing so might elevate a risk from very low (say in a hotel bar) to higher risk (a private hotel room)? And therefore acceding to going upstairs might not be advisable? I’m not talking about transference of guilt (it’s all Weinstein’s). I’m talking about negligently increasing one’s level of personal risk. Put another way, Weinstein’s lechery was necessary but insufficient to effect a rape.

        1. Perhaps, to soften things up, I could have written “she’s partly to blame” instead of “she’s got no one to blame but herself”. However, there are women who think in these absolutes of the latter phrasing, and not in a more nuanced fashion.

          But even you state that a woman elevates her risk of being raped by going to a man’s hotel room. This isn’t that different from my example woman saying to herself “If I avoid X or Y or Z, then the bad thing won’t happen to me.” She’ll avoid going to a man’s hotel room, and lower her risk of being raped.

          She’ll also, in the case of meeting with a Hollywood producer, miss out on desirable acting positions. Weinstein often had an assistant bring an aspiring actress to his hotel room (which I expect was actually a hotel suite), so the actress wouldn’t think it would be a meeting alone with Weinstein. Then the assistant would get up and leave. What’s the actress to do – get up and leave too? That’s walking out in the middle of a work-related meeting.

          In the end, Weinstein is responsible for what took place in these hotel rooms (suites), not the actresses.

    1. How many times have we seen defendants walk into court, or stumble and crawl, with a cane or roll in pushed in a wheel chair? It must be in the first chapter in the lawyers handbook.
      My niece filed for divorce years ago and a judge and jury got involved. He followed his attorney into court room with a very large black bible in his hands – although he’d never set foot in a church.

  7. Having often seen “just desserts” I headed to google to find: “just desserts. The expression meaning that which is deserved was originally just deserts. The phrase is the last refuge of an obsolete meaning of desert—namely, something that is deserved or merited.”

  8. this suggests that he still has no idea that what he did was a criminal act and not “consensual sex,” as his defense maintained.

    I think his ego wouldn’t let him believe that any woman would not consent to have sex with him. He was the most powerful man in Hollywood: why wouldn’t anybody want to have sex with him (says his ego)?

    It’s the same as a certain other person: “I’m a billionaire, why would any woman not love to have her pussy grabbed by me?”

    This is my opinion anyway based on nothing more than speculation.

    1. I think the delay also reinforced this; “she didn’t go to the police the next day, so it must have been consensual. I’m in the clear.”
      But, as we are learning, this is not really how rape works; the victim not going immediately to the police is very common. The absence of an immediate police report doesn’t mean it’s not rape, it means the crime was very traumatic to the victim.

  9. I had assumed he was guilty but after reading the reporting during trial, I started to have my doubt. Too many reporters seemed to think that he was not shown to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The witnesses were simply not credible. From The Nation, a progressive magazine:
    “‘I don’t think anyone is prepared for this,’ a feminist activist in the public line outside Room 1530 of New York State Supreme Court said during a break in testimony late in Harvey Weinstein’s trial for rape and sexual assault. ‘This” meant the possibility of acquittal or a hung jury.

    A group of us had been talking after listening to direct and cross examination of Jessica Mann, whose claims are central to the prosecution’s case. We were four New Yorkers, strangers: three women, one man, of different age and class; one black, one Latin, two white; an independent filmmaker, an activist, a recent college graduate, and me. Unintentionally, we were thinking like jurors charged to decide if the state was meeting its burden of proof. We had doubts.”

    1. I’m curious to know if “A group of us” was the only opinion rendered, or were there other groups or individuals who had different opinions. Apparently the group know as the jury was one such group.

      1. I suggest you read the article. From what I have read, I think he was probably guilty but not proven guilty “beyond a reasonable” doubt. Obviously, the jury had much more information and believed otherwise.

        I have no faith in the American justice system but that’s due to my second hand experience with it (juries often ignore exonerating evidence) plus my extensive layman’s research.

          1. Personal experience. I have a scum ball family member who was convicted of a crime. After reading the transcript of the trial, I have no doubt he was innocent. I hate the man but he was innocent of the one crime he was convicted of.

            I brought this up only to admit that I have a bias not to try to convince you. However, if you have served on a jury, you know how emotional some people get when a bad thing is alleged.

            1. Yeah, I think you’ve fallen prey to certain cognitive biases here, Curtis — among them the availability heuristic, the base-rate fallacy, and the frequency illusion (the types of cognitive biases economics Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and his partner Amos Tversky spent a career studying).

              1. Well, whether he is guilty of those biases or not, I think there is little doubt that historically often “all white” juries did just what Curtis suggests when the defendant had the wrong color skin.

              2. Of course, that is possible but I try my best to avoid it. I regularly read books and blogs by people whom I disagree with. Sometimes it confirms my views (e.g. reading creationists) and other times, I change me view.

                For example, since Trump has been elected, I have spent time trying to understand his support without resorting to name calling. This has made me realize that I know a lot less about life and economics than I thought I did. I was a libertarian but I am finding myself, economically, drifting towards intelligent Christian conservatives (Oren Cass, https://theworthyhouse.com). They understand life, community and economics well and do it without ridicule which is too common in our society.

                Progressives and libertarians seem lacking in sympathy and perspective. I still read them but they are not intellectually stimulating for me.

              3. Ken, it occurs to me that in law, I have mostly read things from the libertarian and defense point of view. I should look for an intelligent view that defends the current justice system. Thank you.

        1. I agree that it was probably an issue with the standard of guilt.

          From the NPR reporting, the jury asked to report as “hung” (no decision) on the acquitted charges; but the judge made them go back and decide.

          They did: Acquittal.

        2. The justice system, they say, can be improved by reform, but it appears that reform often screws things up. I’m remembering the “three strikes and your out” reform, and New York’s “tough new sentencing guidelines”, and the “war against drugs”, etc., which require undoing and then another attempt can be made which could cause further damage. Authentic reform is long overdue.

        3. Doesn’t America have a “Not Proven” verdict (which doesn’t preclude a second trial)? How bizarre!

    2. ” Unintentionally, we were thinking like jurors charged to decide if the state was meeting its burden of proof. “

      Evidently not.

    3. You have to be careful of the media’s penchant for “both sides” reporting. If a paper wants to do that sort of thing, it’s easy enough to keep interviewing groups until you find one that (sincerely) gives you exactly the opinion you want to publish.

      Did The Nation do that? I have no idea. But (and this is just my opinion) I am skeptical that a majority of people or your average “reasonable person”, listening to the testimony, would’ve found it unconvincing.

      1. You are right that one article is not convincing but I read many articles with the same view. I chose to share the best written one by a progressive “me too” woman. An equally factual one by conservative male would have been less convincing to most people.

  10. I am certainly delighted that he was convicted!

    How though do we reconcile “It is just deserts, …” with no free will?

    1. Because I’m not talking about retribution here; I’m talking about an appropriate punishment to satisfy the demands of sequestering the malefactor, reforming him (probably not a good goal here if he’ll die in jail) and, especially, deterrence of others. “Justice” is the satisfaction of those demands. To me, “just deserts” just means the satisfaction of those three aims of punishment, not the proper payback for what he did.

  11. Good riddance to a truly evil human being. Soon he’ll be locked up and forgotten by the world. Unfortunately, those he assaulted will never forget him like the rest of us.

    1. Soon he’ll be locked up and forgotten by the world.

      Locked up – hasn’t it happened already, or did his lawyers place an appeal?
      But forgotten? Almost certainly not. For several centuries.

  12. It is notable that Mr Weinstein has no clue about wrongdoing. Do not (nearly) all men use their position of power, if any, to get laid? I think Mr Weinstein genuinely thinks that he did nothing really wrong. Sex in exchange for a role ( or money, or comfort, etc), what’s really wrong with that? (no, that is not my position, Mr Weinstein clearly overstepped boundaries, but it is how many males think). I am sure Mr Pussygrabber is far from the only one to think that way. Is it not what Mr Clinton or Mr JFK did?
    The problem is that with men in positions of power, the distinction between consent and coercion tends to blur.

    1. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Weinstein feels he is particularly entitled. He also has been conditioned to being able to get away with just about anything.

      But I am not at all convinced that he doesn’t, or didn’t, know that his sexual assault and harassment behaviors were wrong. I’m pretty sure he knew that some of the things he was doing were illegal and that society in general, i.e. by the standards of most people, considers such behaviors to be unethical.

      He knew those things. He was simply a scumbag who had the means to get away with it for so long he thought he’d never have to face any consequences for it. Any genuine surprise he might feel is because the things that have always shielded him from consequences, wealth, authority, reputation, suddenly failed him.

  13. I heard Rosanna Arquette on NPR, talking about turning Weinstein down for sex at what was supposed to be a business meeting in a hotel room, in the 1990s. She said her career was pretty much ruined by the time she got to the lobby. Big fat bully — so glad he’s FINALLY been held to account.

    1. A quick look at Arquette’s IMDB page suggests her career was hardly ruined – she has appeared in multiple TV shows and movies every single year since her “business meeting”.

      Paint me skeptical of her claims about her career.

      1. Ms. R. Arquette has worked steadily, but much of it has been in independent films, often in supporting roles. It’s impossible to tell, from looking at her filmography alone, what leading roles in studio film (if any) she may have been passed over for due to her being blackballed by Harvey Weinstein and Miramax.

        Weinstein was long a Hollywood movie macher, capable of damaging someone’s career, no doubt about it.

      2. I’m skeptical too – from looking at IMDB and knowing that any career has highs and lows. It also seems implausible that he would go out of his way to ruin her career. There’s plenty of famous names on the list of Weinstein accusers who continued to have successful careers.

  14. Weinstein is truly deplorable and a stain on maleness. I’m delighted (relieved?) he’ll live out his remaining days in jail. I was curious as to how the courts were going to treat the gray areas of sexual relations and power. At one extreme, we have forcible rape, then a step away we have the explicit or implicit threat of loss of a job if sex is withheld, another step is the promise of a job in exchange for sex, or the potential to advance your career in exchange for sex, or advancing your career via intentional near sex. Where do we draw the line on consensual and transactional relations without calling it rape? How much does a power imbalance affect our definition of consent? Should it?

  15. The New York Times podcast “The Daily” did an excellent piece on the trial yesterday (link below). Bottom line – the two cases involved were considered by veteran sex crimes prosecutors to be dicey, given subsequent consensual relations between both women and Weinstein, as well as because of the lack of corroborating evidence. Thus, his conviction could be a significant step forward with respect to holding people like Weinstein legally accountable.


    1. Even if Trump can’t pardon him from the state-level charges, he can certainly appoint him to some post like “director of film industry morality” (a Hoover position?) or “minister for women’s rights”. It’s not as if it would adversely affect his re-election (and re-realection) chances.
      Trump’s or Weinstein’s.

  16. Oh, I see this concern has already been addressed. He can’t be pardoned by Trump because he was convicted by the State. Phew!

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