Guilty! What does Weinstein’s conviction mean going forward?

Harvey Weinstein Trial in Jury Deliberations in New York, USA - 24 Feb 2020

It’s been over two years since the first slew of allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct were released, an explosive story which opened the floodgates for a wave of movements against workplace harassment and the sexual exploitation of women. After thousands of #MeToo moments, emotional admissions of victimhood and a lengthy investigation, Harvey Weinstein has finally been found guilty in a court of law, on two charges of third degree rape and first degree criminal sexual acts.

He now faces up to 25 years in prison for his crimes, something that has been welcomed and celebrated by many of his victims. Prominent campaigner and one of Weinstein’s many accusers Rose McGowan told the BBC: “the trash has been taken out” and described herself as “ecstatic” that justice was finally served. The dedicated Twitter page for the “Time’s Up” campaign released a statement from the “silence breakers”, tweeting that it was gratifying to finally be able to legally class Weinstein as a “convicted serial predator” and praised the many women who came forward and testified against him.

Yet even with this jubilation across the entertainment industry and amongst his victims, the verdict against the former producer is bittersweet. Indeed, he was cleared of his most serious charge: predatory sexual assault, something that would have brought with it even more jail time and arguably greater justice. The Time’s Up campaign lamented “full justice” has not been done, but that they would continue to fight and speak up for the women who will not be “silenced” any more.

But considering how difficult rape accusations are to convict, any sort of victory should be taken as an absolute win. Part of the importance of the #MeToo movement was the issue of believing the women, and encouraging them to come forward. The conviction of even a couple of Weinstein’s charges proves that justice can be done and positive things can come from speaking out. In the future, I can only see this successful conviction of the most powerful man in Hollywood as a standard bearer for movements against workplace harassment and sex crimes more generally. Justice can, and will prevail and women should not be deterred from reporting these abuses.

Of course, the fight still goes on. Kevin Spacey’s trials all fell through meaning that the same kind of outcome can’t be replicated. As the other chief figure of Hollywood’s reckoning with these powerful men, a double whammy of convictions would have paved the way for a complete legitimation of the movement. But on the whole, as Hollywood carves out its post-Weinstein future, this moment will be a cautionary tale for those drunk on their own power.

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