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Abby Zimet: This is what justice looks like

Some of Weinstein’s accusers

Time’s up, for real. In a stunning victory for “the resilience of every moral person who stands up and says ‘enough,” longtime sexual predator and former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison – at 67, given his health issues, probably effectively for life – for sexual assault and rape. In February, Weinstein was convicted of 1st degree sexual assault of Miriam Haley, a former Project Runway production assistant, and 3rd degree rape of former actress Jessica Mann,based on gutsy testimony from both women. At the trial, jurors heard from four other women whose similarly horrific allegations of assault and rape fell outside the statute of limitations: Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff,  Lauren Young and Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra. After the guilty verdict against a man who “had haunted our lives, even our nightmares,” said one victim, “The sky is blue again.” With Weinstein facing five to 29 years, activists called his finally being held accountable a “transformational” shift, and expressed gratitude “to each and every woman who demonstrated courage (facing) impossible odds.””Simply put, without these women and others who were willing to come forward, nothing would change,” wrote Xeni Jardin. “Spare a thought for his victims. There may be hundreds more whose names you’ll never know.”

Before Weinstein’s sentencing, prosecutors urged substantial time for a  “lifetime of abuse toward others, sexual and otherwise”; defense asked for five years. In the packed courtroom, all six women who testified at Weinstein’s trial, who only met after his conviction, sat in the front row. In a wheelchair and black suit, Weinstein gave a garbled statement to Judge James Burke about the blacklist, due process, 9/11, the thousands of men “going through this crisis.” In contrast, Haley and Mann offered powerful impact statements about their ongoing trauma. Breaking down, Haley recalled her rape by Weinstein, the fear and paranoia she now lives with, and her unsteady healing process: “I showed up, not as a perfect victim, but as a human being.” Mann also described slow, hard progress: She likened her “uncontrollable  screams (in) the courtroom” to “the screams that wanted to come out when Harvey Weinstein raped me” and described life after assault as “a long exhausting form of survival.” “I live in a body that has become unsafe,” she said. “I have found my voice and hope for a future where monsters no longer hide in our closet. It is time for people who rape other people to pay with their life and the life they took.” In a remarkable sea change, they are now evidently starting to. Next: Trump.


First published in Common Dreams.

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