Harvey Weinstein’s 23-Year Prison Sentence Sends an Important Message to Sexual Assault Survivors

Supermajority Education Fund

March 12, 2020

On Wednesday, movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison in a Manhattan court for his rape and criminal sex convictions. The sentence comes after Weinstein’s allegations first came to the surface in October 2017, via bombshell reports from New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, who all won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. Although the news that 67-year-old Weinstein has been convicted signals some justice for the six women who testified against him in court, it also sends a bigger message to survivors everywhere. 

“Most of us will never see the inside of the courtroom, but these women got to take the stand, look him in the eye and say, ‘You did this to me,'” Tarana Burke, the activist who started the original #MeToo movement, told The New York Times in February. “He will forever be guilty. That’s a thing we have.” 

Dawn Dunning, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young and all testified.

Amanda Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Rise, a civil rights accelerator, said that though Weinstein was sentenced in New York today, he was acquitted of a more serious, predatory sexual assault charge in February. 

“Today is an important day for all survivors of sexual assault,” Nguyen said in a statement today. “While we are disappointed in the outcome on the additional charges, we are not surprised. For every victory for survivors in the courtroom, there are countless individuals who, every day, endure a broken criminal justice system that deprives them of their rights and blocks their path to justice. Rise is dedicated to fixing our unjust legal system, which can feel like a second assault for survivors across the country. We will continue the fight for survivors’ rights.”

This decision comes nearly two years after comedian Bill Cosby, 82, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty on three charges of felony aggravated indecent assault and classified as a “sexually violent predator.” All charges were related to a 2004 assault of Andrea Constand, who was the director of basketball operations at Temple University at the time. Cosby had 60 accusers in total; Constand’s case was the only one that did not surpass the statute of limitations. 

“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Constand said in her victim impact statement in 2018. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others…We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”

While the sentencing of public figures like Weinstein’s and Cosby’s send the message “that it is possible for people in positions of power to be held accountable, there is still a lot of work to be done,” Nguyen told Supermajority News. “We will continue the fight for survivors’ rights.”