Notorious film producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been charged with six more counts of forcible sexual assault in Los Angeles, according to the District Attorney. Convicted earlier this year for various sex crimes, Weinstein’s long list of charges includes four counts of rape, in addition to several other crimes spanning the years from 2004 to 2014. If convicted, he could end up with a sentence of 140 years to life in a state prison. His previous conviction in New York for sexual assault and rape was touted a victory for the #MeToo movement.
A Groundbreaking Development in the Law
When Harvey Weinstein declared guilty of sexual misconduct in February, 2020. He alleged that he was “totally confused.” He had just found guilty by a jury of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act. The decision considered groundbreaking because prosecutors had the difficult task of knocking down several stereotypes. These include the allegation that authentic rape victims fight back their aggressors, and that they don’t go to a man’s hotel room or maintain a relationship with their own abuser. Jennifer Becker, a senior attorney at Legal Momentum in New York, expressed her hope that more prosecutors would take on cases in the future that seem difficult and challenging, often because they involve the necessity of tackling ingrained misbeliefs.
Clergy Abuse Finally Tackled
Another ‘difficult’ subject prosecutors may have shied away from in the past is the subject of clergy sexual abuse. Major strides have made in this area as well. With a clergy abuse trial opening for the very first time in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal. In this case, one priest has accused of molesting an altar boy in the Vatican’s youth seminary. Another priest has accused of covering up the crime and telling the relevant bishop that the victim’s allegations were false.
Once again, the victim seemed to have a big uphill battle ahead of him. His ‘savior’ in this sense was his roommate, who had written church authorities several times detailing what he had witnessed. He described the sexual abuse as “terrifying” and repeated. Usually, this type of crime has tried according to canon law, and the maximum penalty is that of defrocking. This case is different, however, as it occurred within the Vatican city and the state’s criminal prosecutors also have jurisdiction. This is the first trial of its kind in the Vatican tribunal.
Conflicts of Interest
The Weinstein and Vatican cases have much more than it seems in common. These include a huge inequality of power between aggressor and victim, covering up, and conflicts of interest for those directly and indirectly involved. It has hoped that the #MeToo and similar movements work to knock down stereotypes. This includes those alleging that clergy abuse is almost impossible to prove. That female actors involved in relationships with producers cannot simultaneously be victims of sexual abuse, aggression, and abuse.
Two big cases have reported on the global news this week. The first is that of Harvey Weinstein, who has been charged with six more counts of forcible sexual assault in Los Angeles. The second is that of two priests for criminal occurrences against a young seminarian in the Vatican. Both cases may have not made it beyond mere complaints a few decades ago, but the law is working hard to stop the unfair exercise of power and the resultant abuse that has long-term effects on victims’ physical and mental health and wellbeing.