Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced former big-time Hollywood producer, is set to go on trial January 6th. He is facing charges for allegedly raping a woman in 2013 and forcing oral sex on a production assistant in 2006. Weinstein is out on bail after a plea of not guilty.
Weinstein is only facing charges on two incidents, but his accusers number more than 80 women. The accusations against him kicked off the #MeToo movement, a widespread movement against sexual harassment and assault.
The trial is expected to last two months. It will definitely be one of the most high-profile court cases of the new decade. The highly-publicized nature of the case will undoubtedly make the trial more complicated than strictly necessary.
Unfortunately, Weinstein’s trial is far from a slam dunk. Despite his obvious guilt in the public eye, many of the accusations against Weinstein could not be added to the official charges against him, due to statute of limitation or jurisdictional issues. Both the defense and prosecution have had problems leading up to the case, making the ultimate result anyone’s guess.
Against his lawyer’s advice, Weinstein gave an interview a few weeks ago. In the interview, he claims that throughout his career he only did positive things for women and that all of his achievements have been forgotten. It did not go over well in the court of public opinion. Its impact in actual court will likely be minimal, but it does show that Weinstein has little remorse for his alleged wrongdoing.
Why This All Matters
This trial is a big deal, not just because of its highly public nature, but because of what it means for all of Weinstein’s accusers and all victims of sexual assault.
For some, the #MeToo movement has gone too far, a sentiment that Weinstein’s lawyers plan to play on. For others, the movement still has a long way to go. The #MeToo movement has been effective with publicly shaming abusers, but thus far the criminal justice system has been slow to catch up. This trial will be an important landmark for victims of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement as a whole. If Harvey Weinstein is convicted, it shows that the criminal justice system is willing to believe survivors, stand up for them, and protect them. It’s up to the judge and jury now.