Friday, May 25, 2018

Mother of Mercy is this the end of Harvey Weinstein?

Over the last year to eighteen months or so we have seen many (mostly) women and men make accusations of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and  generally inappropriate behavior against (mostly) men in primarily the media, arts and entertainment industries. With the possible exception of Bill Cosby, no man was more closely associated with such alleged bad behavior than Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. 

Weinstein allegedly harassed, assaulted, or raped dozens of actual or would be Hollywood starlets. Weinstein had enough power and friends in the industry and out of it that he could allegedly harm the careers of women who didn't want to play ball with him. Weinstein allegedly hired Israeli private intelligence firms made up of former or current IDF and Mossad personnel to dig up dirt on accusers, handle hostile media and generally raise the cost incurred, legal or otherwise, to anyone inclined to mumble a bad word about his extra-curricular activities. Well nothing lasts forever. Weinstein was just formally arrested by the NYPD. 

Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to New York City detectives and was arrested on Friday on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex, a watershed in a months long sex crimes investigation and in the #MeToo movement. Around 7:30 a.m., Mr. Weinstein walked into a police station house in Lower Manhattan, flanked by several sex crimes detectives. Toting three large books under his right arm, he looked up without saying a word as a crush of reporters and onlookers yelled, “Harvey!” 

With camera shutters clicking and reporters shouting questions, the scene was a mirror image of the red carpets where Mr. Weinstein presided for decades as a movie mogul and king of Hollywood. But after decades of harnessing his wealth and his influence in the movie industry to buy or coerce silence from women, and after withstanding an investigation into groping allegations three years ago, Mr. Weinstein’s reign ended behind bars in a police holding cell on Friday morning. He was fingerprinted and formally booked. Then about an hour later, he was led from the First Police Precinct in TriBeCa and taken to court on Centre Street to face rape charges, his arms pinned behind him in several sets of handcuffs to accommodate his girth, the police said.

The criminal sex act charge stems from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker and then investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa. The victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified. Mr. Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting movie stars and employees of his former namesake company over the course of decades.

Mr. Brafman, declined to comment on Thursday. In the past, he has said that Mr. Weinstein denies any allegations of “nonconsensual sex.” As part of a bail package negotiated in advance, Mr. Weinstein will put up $1 million in cash and will agree to wear a monitoring device. His travel will be restricted and he will surrender his passport.

I can't say whether Weinstein is guilty of these specific charges. And that is what this is about. I believe he's probably guilty but that's based on what I read in the newspapers, which as we know, isn't always accurate. 

I won't be able to see the evidence and weigh the testimony and demeanor of the accusers and accused. Chances are you won't either. Guilty or not, at this point in time Weinstein should be considered innocent and like anyone else be allowed to robustly defend himself, challenge his accusers' veracity and/or recollection of events. And if he's found guilty then he shouldn't get any sweetheart deals but the same sentence doled out to anyone else. That's important. Whatever the normal penalty is for his crime, that's what he should get. It is also going to be interesting to see how the trial, should it come to that, deals with different arguments over consent. Consent compelled by actual or threatened force isn't consent obviously. And ignoring someone's "NO" is also self-evidently rape. 

But what if someone felt that she had to go along with what Weinstein wanted, but Weinstein never made any verbal, visual or demonstrative threats of violence or career damage? Judging by some of Weinstein's previous comments, that could be part of his defense. Is he delusional? Did he ignore women's no's? Dunno. Some women say so. Lots of women say so. I think that the outcome of the Weinstein case could influence other situations: those we know about and those that have yet to become public knowledge.

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