The moment #MeToo activists and Weinstein’s sexual assault survivors have been waiting for finally happened this past Monday, Feb. 24.
Harvey Weinstein, former American film producer and now convicted sex offender, was found guilty on two charges – criminal sexual assault in the first degree, and rape in the third degree. For that, he faces between five and 29 years in prison.
However, he was found not guilty on two counts of predatory sexual assault – arguably the most serious of the charges. A guilty veredict on the count of first-degree rape might have landed him behind bars for life, according to NPR.
But Weinstein’s legal troubles are far from over.
In Los Angeles, he stands accused of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint, according to The New York Times.
The trial is set to begin in L.A. after Weinstein’s sentencing in New York, March 11.
Weinstein living behind bars will undoubtedly comfort the women whose lives he’s forever marred.
The justice system’s ability to take accusations like Weistein’s seriously provides courage to the women who have faced the arduous decision of whether to report a heinous crime against her or keep her job.
However, Weinstein’s crimes would never have come to light if it wasn’t for reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The New York Times, who initially investigated the accusations, and released a story that exposed Weinstein and skyrocketed the #MeToo movement.
The #MeToo movement, which started in 2006 via MySpace, received nationwide recognition in late 2017, more than a decade later, after multiple women came forward, accusing the film producer of sexual assault.
While accusations against Weinstein were the matches that lit the #MeToo movement’s fire, he is just one of the many accused. The fight does not end here.
The movement attracted the attention of several high-profile celebrities such as Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and more, who have called for well-known members in the industry, such as Weinstein, to be held accountable for their actions.
R. Kelly, a famous R&B recording artist with a long history of sexual assault allegations stemming from the early ’90’s, is another example of a high-profile celebrity facing such accusations, which are finally being taken seriously by the criminal justice system. Most recently in a series of six episodes released by Lifetime titled “Surviving R. Kelly,” accusers came forward with accounts of his sexual crimes.
With major allegations against Weinstein and R. Kelly, and numerous people affected, why did it take so long to hold them accountable?
Media outlets, such as The New York Times and Lifetime, have fueled the criminal investigations that make such prosecutions possible. They allow justice to finally be reached, and promote public consciousness over the issue.
But if this is how we count success against sexual predators, the #MeToo movement has a lot of work to do. We all have a lot of work to do.
While we should continue to praise the work of such platforms, it is our time to hold every guilty individual accountable. We must lift the burden of bringing awareness from reporters’ shoulders and instead place it upon our courts.
We all have a collective responsibility to allow every victim to tell their story without fear of reproach.
Activists and survivors rejoice for now – but there is still work to be done tomorrow.