The Current

'It means everything and nothing': How #MeToo may have played into Harvey Weinstein conviction

Without pressure from the #MeToo movement, Globe and Mail reporter and author Robyn Doolittle says that Harvey Weinstein likely wouldn't have been found guilty of sex crimes.

'There's something we can now say: Harvey Weinstein is a rapist,' says Robyn Doolittle

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Courtroom where he was found guilty on charges of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual act in the first degree. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
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Without pressure from the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein likely wouldn't have been found guilty of sex crimes, says reporter and author Robyn Doolittle.

"The New York district attorney had an opportunity to charge him when he confessed on tape to sexually assaulting a woman in 2015 and didn't," said Doolittle, an investigative journalist for the Globe and Mail.

"It was after #MeToo that they did lay those charges."

Doolittle says that's a key part of the impact #MeToo has had on how sexual assault accusations are handled: no longer is it acceptable for institutions to turn a blind eye.

Weinstein was found guilty Monday by a New York jury of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual act in the first degree.

The jury acquitted Weinstein of two charges of predatory sexual assault, which could have carried a life sentence for the disgraced movie mogul, and a fifth charge of rape in the first degree.

The Current requested comment from Weinstein's representatives, but did not receive a response.

Doolittle, who is the author of Had It Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo, says the verdict "means everything and nothing at the same time."

"There's something we can now say: Harvey Weinstein is a rapist," she said. 

"But on the other hand, if it had gone the other way, it makes me nervous to think that people might have thought different about the overall #MeToo movement."

Forming 'deep friendships'

As the verdict was announced, Canadian actress Erika Rosenbaum says she experienced a mix of emotions.

"I was relieved that he was found guilty and the label of sexual predator will rightfully follow him for the rest of his days," she told Galloway. 

"I was also angry because he should have been found guilty on all five charges."

The Montreal-based actor has accused Weinstein of harassment and assault and shared her story with The Current in Oct. 2017. Weinstein has previously denied the allegations of non-consensual sexual conduct.

Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum came forward with allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein in Oct. 2017. (Susan Mckenzie/CBC)

Rosenbaum says that while she was hopeful that Weinstein's victims would get justice, she was also surprised when the verdict came down.

"We have very little precedent to hope in these cases…. And if you look at history, I mean, women have not been believed," she said.

"I dared to hope because there were so many of us, and there was such a wave of support following the story."

Since allegations against Weinstein first surfaced, his accusers — known as the Silence Breakers — have formed "deep friendships" around their shared experiences, Rosenbaum says. 

She says that survivors were exchanging messages of support with each other as the verdict was released. 

"It's been really, really inspiring to see the work that all those women are doing," she said.

'Weinstein will soon be the past'

Though Weinstein now faces a minimum of five years in prison following his conviction in New York, he is also charged in California with sexual assault and rape in two separate incidents from 2013.

Those charges were announced the day before Weinstein's New York trial began in January.

"I sort of wonder how the city will sort of adjust when it's happening on this side of the country," said Kelly McCormack, an L.A.-based Canadian actor. 

"To be honest, it's a fairly unoriginal opinion in Hollywood right now to view Harvey Weinstein as a monster," she added.

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McCormack, who says she has also been sexually harassed and assaulted on set, likewise believes that #MeToo has played a significant role in Weinstein's conviction.

"It has been in the movement's best interests that this case would set a precedent, and truly try and tackle a case that wasn't just a futile he said, she said situation," she said, adding that the New York jury sought the court's definition on forcible compulsion and consent.

"This is a jury that is actively trying to renegotiate with a judicial system that is not set up to support and understand victims of sexual assault and violence."

Now, as Weinstein awaits sentencing on March 11 — and victims come to terms with the verdict — McCormack says the narrative around the Hollywood producer will begin to shift.

"I think that the sisterhood of women standing up for women is the future of this story," she said.

"Harvey Weinstein will soon be the past."


Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Joana Draghici and Cameron Perrier.