news

Jessica. Miriam. Lauren. Annabella. Dawn. Tarale. Thank you for walking through hell for us.

Content warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers. If you need support, please call the sexual assault helpline on 1800 010 120.

Jessica Mann. Miriam Haley. Lauren Young. Annabella Sciorra. Dawn Dunning. Tarale Wulff. We thank you.

Harvey Weinstein is a convicted rapist. On Monday, a New York jury found the 67-year-old guilty of rape and criminal sexual act.

He has been held accountable for his horrific actions thanks to these six brave women who courageously testified that he had sexually assaulted them.

Harvey Weinstein jail time
Harvey Weinstein is a convicted rapist. Image: Getty.

He faces up to 29 years in prison, and Judge James Burke demanded Weinstein be taken to jail immediately. ⁣(Weinstein, however, complained of chest pains and was taken to hospital instead.)

Indeed, the women who broke their silence and relived their trauma in court in the hope of justice have been hailed for their courage that led to this watershed verdict.

Their stories, as told in court, are as follows.

Jessica Mann was an aspiring actress when Weinstein invited her for a breakfast meeting at a Manhattan hotel in March 2013. He persuaded Mann to go to his hotel room, where he used an erectile enhancer before raping her. During her cross-examination, in which she was questioned for five hours by Weinstein's lawyer Donna Rotunno, Mann experienced a panic attack. She walked off the stand in tears.

Harvey Weinstein trial
Jessica Mann arrives at Manhattan criminal court to testify at the sex assault trial of Harvey Weinstein on January 31, 2020 in New York City. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

Miriam Haley was the production assistant for Harvey Weinstein when in 2006 she went to his New York City home for a meeting. There, he took her to his bedroom despite her objection. She told Weinstein she had a tampon in, at which point he jerked it out of her vagina. He then performed oral sex on Haley.

Harvey Weinstein trial
Miriam Haley at a press conference about her allegation against Harvey Weinstein in 2017. Image: Getty.

Annabella Sciorra was a rising actress when in the winter of 1993 or 1994, Weinstein offered to take her home after the two had dinner together at a restaurant. After dropping her off, Sciorra heard a knock at the door. It was Weinstein. He forced his way in, she testified, and raped her. During Sciorra's testimony, she told the jury: "I was punching him, kicking him. He got on top of me and he raped me."

Harvey Weinstein trial
Annabella Sciorra at the 90th Annual Academy Awards in 2018. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

Dawn Dunning was 24 years old and an aspiring actress who planned a meeting with Weinstein in a Manhattan hotel in 2004. Upon opening the door, Weinstein was wearing nothing but a bathrobe. He pointed to potential acting contracts, Dunning testified, and told her she could have the roles if she had three-way sex with Weinstein and his assistant. He allegedly told Dunning: "How do you think other actresses got ahead?"

Harvey Weinstein trial
Dawn Dunning in 2019. Image: Getty.

Tarale Wulff was a cocktail waitress when Weinstein dragged her to a secluded terrace before allegedly masturbating in front of her. Later, in the hope of acting work, Wulff agreed to have a meeting with Weinstein at his apartment. She was led to his bedroom, where she claims he raped her.

Harvey Weinstein trial
Tarale Wulff at Manhattan Criminal Court during an intermission in testimony during the sexual assault trial of Harvey Weinstein on January 29, 2020 in New York City. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

Lauren Young was a 22-year-old model when Weinstein trapped her in a bathroom in 2012. He undid her dress, before masturbating and ejaculating onto the floor. In her testimony, she said she didn't call the police after the incident, because Weinstein "has power".

(Weinstein's trial in New York was for charges relating to just two of the women: Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley. The other four women were there to demonstrate the movie producer's pattern to relentlessly abuse the dreams of aspiring actresses.)

The cross-examination Weinstein's accusers endured were designed to break each of them down.

Harvey Weinstein’s lead defence lawyer, Donna Rotunno, insisted that "women lie" and attempted to propel the argument the sexual encounters described by his victims were merely a matter of "unwanted voluntary sex".

As Deborah Tuerkheimer, former assistant Manhattan district attorney, wrote for The New York Times: "At times, they were portrayed as lying for fortune or fame. They were blamed for putting themselves in a vulnerable situation. They were presented as vengeful women who regretted having consensual sex."

In the end, however, the truth prevailed. The victims were believed.

Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discusses comments made by Harvey Weinstein’s female defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno. Post continues below. 

Following the verdict, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said: "The women, who came forward courageously and at great risk, made that happen.

"Weinstein is a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims."

Referencing the six women plus two of the prosecutors, Meghan Hast and Joan Illuzzi, Vance continued, saying these are "eight women who have changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence".

"These are eight women who pulled our justice system into the 21st century by declaring that rape is rape and sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter what."

As the Time’s Up organisation highlights, this is not just a victory for the “Silence Breakers” who refused to be silent about Weinstein, but it is also a victory for survivors everywhere, and for all those who believe in justice.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, there were many other crucial cogs who helped bring down a person who was once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

There are the journalists who tirelessly helped uncover the long-kept secret yet long-known truth about Harvey Weinstein. They include The New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, and New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow, who respectively undertook years-long investigations to expose the crimes committed by Harvey Weinstein against women.

There are also, importantly, more than 80 other women who have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, with allegations ranging from unwanted touching to rape - all of which demonstrated Weinstein's decades-long pattern of sexually assaulting women. There is a separate case in Los Angeles against Weinstein that will continue to go ahead.

For now, though, we must say thank you to the six women who bravely spearheaded the criminal lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator.

May it only be the beginning of a long fight for justice for victims of sexual assault.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature image: Getty.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???