- Rosanna Arquetteaward-winning actress, filmmaker and activist. She was one of the first women to share details of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.
- Tarana Burkefounder of the #MeToo movement. She started the #MeToo hashtag in 2006 to focus on young women of color who have endured sexual abuse, assault or exploitation. Burke is now the executive director of the newly established organization “Me Too” International.
A jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and sexual assault, following a seven-week trial in Manhattan. The jurors convicted the disgraced Hollywood producer Monday of raping then-aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a hotel room in 2013 and of sexually assaulting production assistant Miriam Haley at his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her. Weinstein was convicted of first-degree commission of a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. But he was acquitted of two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape. He faces a total sentence of up to 29 years in prison. His sentencing has been set for March 11. “It’s a beginning,” says Rosanna Arquette, award-winning actress, filmmaker and activist. She was one of the first women to share details of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. We are also joined by Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement and now the executive director of the newly established organization of the same name, known as “Me Too” International.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The verdict is in. Disgraced former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been convicted of rape. On Monday, a Manhattan jury of seven men and five women found Weinstein guilty of raping then-aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a hotel room in 2013 and of sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haley at his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her. Weinstein was convicted of first-degree commission of a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape, but he was acquitted of two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape. He faces a total sentence of up to 29 years in prison.
After the verdict was announced, Judge James Burke ordered Weinstein to be taken to jail immediately. Weinstein was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. His attorneys say he experienced heart palpitations and high blood pressure when he was being taken to Rikers Island jail. He was reportedly then transferred to a locked unit at Bellevue Hospital.
This is attorney Debra Katz addressing the media after Weinstein’s conviction. Katz represents costume designer Dawn Dunning, one of Weinstein’s accusers who testified in the trial.
DEBRA KATZ: Doug and I were in court as we saw Harvey Weinstein being remanded into police custody. Harvey Weinstein is exactly where he should be now: behind bars.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance called Weinstein a, quote, “vicious, serial sexual predator” and said the women who testified against Weinstein were heroic.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY CYRUS VANCE: To the survivors of Harvey Weinstein, I owe, and we all owe, an immense debt to you, who had the courage, beyond measure, to speak your story to the world, to this courtroom, at great personal risk and in great personal pain. To those of us who were privileged to be in the courtroom when they testified, you know what I mean. These survivors weren’t just brave, they were heroic.
AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Weinstein’s sentencing has been set for March 11. The verdict comes after weeks of testimony from a slew of accusers who described alleged rapes, forced oral sex and groping by Weinstein. Weinstein’s New York trial was the first criminal case to arise from allegations against him made by more than 90 women, including actresses Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd, Uma Thurman and Gwyneth Paltrow and Mira Sorvino. But many of those cases were too old to prosecute. Weinstein still faces charges in Los Angeles. Authorities allege he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights in 2013 during Oscars week.
Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests, in New York and L.A. In Los Angeles, Rosanna Arquette is an award-winning actress, filmmaker and activist, one of the first women to share details of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. Arquette has been closely following the New York trial of Weinstein. And here in New York, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement. She founded the #MeToo hashtag in 2006 to focus on young women of color who have endured sexual abuse, assault or exploitation. Burke is now the executive director of the newly established organization of the same name, also known as “Me Too” International.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I want to begin with Rosanna Arquette. You were one of the first to speak out against Harvey Weinstein because of your own experience with him. Can you respond to yesterday’s verdict?
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: I think, even though it was five counts — it was only three counts, we are happy. It’s a beginning. It’s an opening. This is very, very important. It’s a seismic cultural shift in a lot of ways. And it’s really important that this man be held accountable for his actions. And to convict a very powerful white male is a big deal. And I’m happy that he’s going to go to jail, one way or another.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Tarana Burke, I wanted to ask you: First, your reaction to the verdict? But then also, you issued a statement afterwards saying that you thought that this jury worked with an incredibly narrow and unjust set of laws governing sexual assault. I’m wondering if you could elaborate on that.
TARANA BURKE: Well, my reaction was similar to a lot of people, I think: a sense of relief, knowing that this is not the fullness of what accountability can look like, to have some accountability from a person as powerful as Harvey Weinstein. Knowing the survivors, knowing some of them personally, knowing that this felt like cathartic to them, I was definitely relieved that there was some conviction.
But, you know, the reason why I said that in the statement is because there was a lot of chatter about people not believing folks like Annabella Sciorra and her testimony, and that’s why he wasn’t convicted on the higher charges. And really, I think we have to examine what the laws look like around sexual violence. It’s not so much the people who came forward, but what they had to work with. The charges were 27 years old. There are statutes of limitations. There’s not enough law to cover the breadth of what sexual violence actually is and what it does in people’s lives. So they worked with what they had.
AMY GOODMAN: The jury convicted Weinstein as felony sex crime and rape, but acquitted him of predatory sexual assault, acquitted of the most serious charges but still faces up to 29 years in jail. The New York Times wrote, “On the two counts of predatory sexual assault, the not guilty verdicts suggested that the jurors did not believe the testimony of Annabella Sciorra, an actress best known for her work in The Sopranos.” Your response? And then I want to get Rosanna’s, as well.
TARANA BURKE: Again, I don’t know that we can assume that they didn’t believe her, as much as they couldn’t get to where they needed to get to convict him of that crime. And I think it’s really dangerous to put out this narrative that she wasn’t believed. Right? Because she came and she testified about this really horrendous thing. And to make that assumption sends a message to survivors that we don’t need to send, that if you come forward, that folks won’t believe you. The laws are very narrow around what you can — and the burden of proof is very different than it is for, say, a civil case or a case that was more recent. So I think we have to be careful about saying they didn’t believe her.
AMY GOODMAN: Rosanna Arquette, your response?
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Well, everything that the Queen Tarana said, because she’s our hero, and she’s right. We really do have to change the laws. That’s what’s next. Annabella Sciorra’s testimony, I believe that had she not done that in the courtroom, we wouldn’t be here today. I think they did listen to her. But because there were — they couldn’t charge, for some reason, something happened with the jury. And I want to thank the jury for deliberating and taking the time and doing this as much as they possibly could, because I actually don’t think it was actually their fault in this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rosanna Arquette, I wanted to ask you, in terms of the strategy of Weinstein’s defense attorneys — you watched the proceedings of the court, of the trial closely. Your reaction to their attempt to discredit the testimony of the women who are charging him with these crimes?
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Well, you know, those are the dirty tactics that Harvey Weinstein always played, for years and years. That’s how he manipulated people, including — you know, there’s a lot of evidence missing in the years of Cy Vance. I’m so happy he’s on board now, but many years ago he wasn’t. And so, this is how he plays. She was — it was horrible to watch and to be called the — you know, I felt so bad for the witnesses. He’s on trial, not the women. That’s what everybody forgets.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Sorry, it’s 4:30 in the morning here.
AMY GOODMAN: Rosanna Arquette is an award-winning actress and filmmaker, one of the first to speak out about Harvey Weinstein’s abuse. And Tarana Burke is with us, founder of the #MeToo movement, executive director of the newly established “Me Too” International. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Yes, the verdict is in. Harvey Weinstein is a convicted rapist. On Monday, a Manhattan jury of seven men and five women found Weinstein guilty of raping then-aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a hotel room in 2013 and of sexually assaulting his production assistant Mimi Haley at his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her. I wanted to continue our conversation with our two guests. Rosanna Arquette is with us in Los Angeles, and Tarana Burke is with us here in New York.
Rosanna, you were one of the first to sound the alarm, to speak out around what Harvey Weinstein did to you. And if you could quickly — and if you don’t want to, certainly feel free to say no — recount what happened to you? And then I want to talk about the years after what happened to you, in terms of what you felt was somehow his attempts to discredit you.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: I was asked to go to meet Harvey Weinstein for dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a movie that I was going to do, and he was giving me the new script. I arrived. They said, “Mr. Weinstein will see you upstairs.” I went upstairs, you know, and thought, “What’s going on? Oh, yeah, you know, he probably has the penthouse suite,” which is what a lot of directors did when they came into town, stayed in a big suite. And he opened the door in his white bathrobe, and he said, “I can’t move my neck, cannot move my neck.” And I said, “OK, well, I’ll get you a massage.” And he grabbed my hand and pulled it down towards his penis. I pulled it away. And he said, “Rosanna, you’re making a very big mistake. Look what I’ve done for Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson.” Those were the two names he gave me. And I said, “I’ll never be that girl.” And I left. And, you know, I told people. They told me to keep my mouth shut. I told my agent. One of my agents was that guy Paul Feldsher, that actually testified for Harvey Weinstein. So, that’s strange, in that time.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I wanted then to go to this whole issue of Harvey Weinstein hiring Black Cube, the private intelligence agency run largely by former officers of Israeli intelligence, Mossad, and other intelligence agencies. According to reporting by The New Yorker and others, Black Cube was hired by Weinstein via his law firm. Agency investigators reportedly adopted false identities in order to obtain information about his accusers, including actress Rose McGowan. She spoke about being targeted by Black Cube investigators during an interview on CBS 60 Minutes and being tricked into revealing intimate details of her alleged abuse by Weinstein to one of their spies.
TOM STEINFORT: Black Cube came after you personally, yeah?
ROSE McGOWAN: Oh, yeah.
TOM STEINFORT: What toll did that take on you?
ROSE McGOWAN: I think it shaved years off my life. I think them coming after me spun my brain — and still does — in a way that’s fractured a part of me that I don’t think will ever fix. But these are people that hurt people. And that’s their job. Their job is to hurt other people. So, you know, I hope they’re proud at night.
AMY GOODMAN: That was actress Rose McGowan, who filed a lawsuit against Weinstein, alleges he conspired to defraud, smear and marginalize her as she was preparing to name him in 2017. Now, last year, or the year before, I saw you, Rosanna Arquette, at an event organized by Ava DuVernay to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. You were very shaken that day.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: It was right before the Sundance Film Festival. And filmmakers had just come to your house to show you a completed film about Harvey Weinstein called Untouchable. You had been interviewed by them, and you were now seeing the completed film. You told me that day that you had just seen the film, and you were learning for the first time that you were on that list of Black Cube. Can you explain what you think they did and what he did to you, after you were telling the story of what happened to you?
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Well, we knew that I was — I knew I had been spied on, because Ronan Farrow had told me that before. But what they had was a signed contract and a picture of me as a target — and that’s what they show in the film — signed by Harvey Weinstein. So it was scary, very scary. And he did this to a lot of people, and that’s what he’s done for years. And if anybody hasn’t read Catch and Kill, I highly suggest reading Ronan’s book or hearing him read it. That’s even —
AMY GOODMAN: Ronan Farrow’s book.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Who revealed this first in The New Yorker magazine.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Yeah, yeah.