Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Weinstein case could influence other sex crime prosecutions

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 9:40 AM
In this January 6, 2020, file photo, Actor Rose McGowan (right) speaks at a news conference as actor Rosanna Arquette (center left) listens outside a Manhattan courthouse after the arrival of Harvey Weinstein in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York prosecutors are hailing Harvey Weinstein’s conviction as a pivotal moment that could change the way the legal system views a type of sexual assault case historically considered difficult to prove.

Most of the women who testified against Weinstein stayed in contact with him — and sometimes had consensual sexual encounters with him — after alleged attacks. None promptly reported his crimes.

There was little physical evidence to bolster their stories.

The jury convicted anyway, finding the producer guilty of raping one woman in 2013 and sexually assaulting another in 2006.

“This is a new day,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said after the verdict was announced.

“Rape is rape whether the survivor reports within an hour, within a year or perhaps never. It’s rape despite the complicated dynamics of power and consent after an assault. It’s rape even if there is no physical evidence.”

But some women’s advocates cautioned that it’s too soon to know how much the legal landscape has shifted.

“This is not a signal that our systems and institutions are magically transformed,” said Sonia Ossorio, the president of the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter, who sat through most of the trial. “This is one case, one man. We’ve got to keep it in perspective.”

If any case seemed to encapsulate the #MeToo reckoning with sexual misconduct, gender dynamics and power as a form of coercion, it was Weinstein’s.

Dozens of women who crossed paths with Weinstein through the entertainment industry have said he bullied, pressured, coerced or overpowered them while demanding sexual favours.

The alleged encounters took place over many decades, amid movie screenings in Los Angeles, film festivals in Cannes, and business meetings in New York or London.

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