Weinstein avoids life sentence despite sexual assault allegations

Since 2017, more than 80 women have reported that Weinstein sexually harrassed, sexually assaulted or raped them in incidents from decades ago.

Georges Biard / Wikimedia Commons

Since 2017, more than 80 women have reported that Weinstein sexually harrassed, sexually assaulted or raped them in incidents from decades ago.

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault and rape among others made national news when the stories first broke in 2017. After several allegations from several survivors, many of them actresses in Hollywood, Weinstein was found guilty on two of the five criminal acts he was charged with. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.

A jury of 12 people convicted Weinstein of rape and criminal sexual assault on Feb. 21, but acquitted him on charges of predatory sexual assault. It appears that the jury was deadlocked on the charges of predatory sexual assault, which were the most serious charges Weinstein was facing. Had he been convicted of the predatory sexual assault charges, he would have been facing a potential life sentence. 

While many were hoping Weinstein would be found guilty on all charges, we can see progress being made in the consequences that he has received. Annabella Sciorra, former Sopranos actress, was one of the women who testified at the most recent hearing. She was heavily praised for her courage to again tell her story of being assaulted by Weinstein in the winter of 1993. On Feb. 24, Sciorra made a statement calling her testimony “painful but necessary,”  also stating that “while we hoped for continued righteous outcomes that bring absolute justice, we can never regret breaking the silence.” 

Although we can admire the courage it took for the women to testify, statements made by Weinstein’s legal team show that the battle is nowhere near over. The main lawyer working for Weinstein, Donna Rotunno, made a statement calling the day the verdict was reached a “bittersweet day” and made it known that Weinstein and his legal team have a plan to appeal the verdict that was reached. “The fight is not over,” Rotunno said. 

A press conference was later held where many attorneys who had represented the witnesses testifying made statements. “Harvey Weinstein is exactly where he should be now — behind bars,” attorney Debra Katz said. Attorney Douglas Wigdor made statements thanking journalists from The New Yorker (Ronan Farrow and Jodi Kantor) and The New York Times (Megan Twohey) for their previous reports on Weinstein’s actions. “We would not be here without that reporting and without those sources,” Wigdor said. Wigdor also stated, “Thank you to those women for lending a voice to those who cannot be directly heard.” 

Even though there was a conviction, and we can take comfort in that, it is still tragic to see some of Weinstein’s victims not receive justice. There is a way to look at some aspects of the situation in a positive light, such as admiring the courage of the women who testified. However, I do wish there had been a way to convict him on more charges, as we can clearly see these actions are repeat behavior from Weinstein. Going forward, we can hope that Weinstein will be given the maximum possible sentence.