As the criminal trial of disgraced movie mogul and accused serial sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein began Monday, more than 20 of the now 100 women who have spoken out about his alleged abuse gathered near the courthouse in New York, calling out his defenders in Hollywood and the pattern of accused and admitted sexual predators making career comebacks.
Ahead of his trial, Weinstein’s legal team and defenders have ramped up their attacks against “the silence breakers,” and Weinstein, who has denied all of the abuse charges, has given interviews defending himself and suggesting he will make a career comeback.
“Does anyone really want to see that? It’s like a pedophile saying: ‘I can’t wait to go back to coaching Little League as soon as this is all over,’” journalist Lauren Sivan, a Weinstein accuser, said Monday. “This is a dangerous pedophile. Even if he is acquitted in this trial, let’s hope he is never able to go back to what he was doing.”
Several of his accusers, such as actors Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan, criticized Weinstein’s defenders and enablers in Hollywood.
“Unfortunately, there are so many people who feel sorry for the rapist, especially in Hollywood,” Arquette said.
“They have an asterisk next to their name for all time for what they’ve done,” McGowan said. “We know them, and we will out them if we have to, if they come forward to help him again.”
McGowan also called Weinstein “a moron,” when asked about his widely mocked interview lauding himself as a champion of women’s careers in Hollywood.
“I think it’s despicable, I think it’s disgusting, I think it’s rewriting history, because for every woman he has put on the screen, he took out about a hundred,” she said.
The allegations against Weinstein have included numerous stories of the once kingmaker in Hollywood intimidating and silencing the women whom he allegedly abused, wielding his power and influence over their careers. Many of the women who came forward were sidelined or forced out of Hollywood.
McGowan said Weinstein’s recent comments illustrate that he has failed to demonstrate remorse for or understanding of his alleged abuse.
“Not at all, he doesn’t realize what he has done at all,” she said. “And I don’t think he ever will.”
The beginning of Weinstein’s trial marks another turning point in the Me Too movement, catalyzed in the fall of 2017 by the women coming forward, through reporting by The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. On Monday, several of the women reflected on Me Too’s impact, such as states passing new laws that will make it easier for sexual assault survivors to seek justice.
But the women also cautioned that Weinstein’s trial was just one step in a long process of changing the entire system, particularly for powerful men with the legal resources to silence sexual assault survivors.
“We would like to see more change on the men’s side,” Sivan said. “We would like men in power to know that they can’t abuse their power, pay off their victims and go about their business, that that hopefully will not stand anymore.”
“We need the good men to come and be our allies. And there are a lot of good men. It’s not ‘taking down the men,’” Arquette said, referring to criticisms, often from men, that Me Too “has gone too far.”
When asked about the pattern of “bad men getting promotions,” McGowan said: “One step forward, three steps back.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.