The saga of Harvey Weinstein continued today as the Hollywood movie mogul was sentenced to 23 years in prison for criminal sex acts and rape. The surprising guilty verdict was handed down on Feb. 24 and Weinstein immediately fell ill with heart palpitations that diverted him away from Riker’s Island to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. The legal defense team has been waiting for today’s sentencing to file a formal appeal of the verdict which, based on Judge James Burke’s “life in prison” punishment, stands a good chance of being heard.
The fortunes of this legendary film producer and Democratic party fundraiser turned for the worse when the New York Times dropped a salacious story detailing decades of his sexual misdeeds and payoffs to victims. The first in a series of front page stories was published on October 5, 2017 and kicked off the #MeToo movement which ended the careers of many celebrities and business leaders. The Times had been sitting on the Weinstein story since 2004 and “spiked it” for over a decade thereby allowing this sexual predator to abuse an unknown number of striving actresses unlucky enough to land on his casting couch.
“In 1997, Mr. Weinstein reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Rose McGowan, then a 23-year-old-actress, after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. The $100,000 settlement was “not to be construed as an admission” by Mr. Weinstein, but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” according to the legal document, which was reviewed by The Times. Ms. McGowan had just appeared in the slasher film “Scream” and would later star in the television show “Charmed.” She declined to comment.“New York Times, Oct. 5, 2017
After the story broke over 80 women stepped forward to tell their stories of Weinstein’s abusive behaviour and for every courageous victim there were probably others who watched in silence. Naturally there are questions surrounding the reasoning the newspaper editors used to justify holding back on reporting libidinous acts by a powerful political and entertainment figure. In the case of Weinstein the question answers itself when the words “Democratic party” are associated with the culpable abuser. A better, more relevant question is why did The New York Times drop this bomb on a Tuesday morning in Autumn and continue giving it maximum front page, above the fold, coverage for a week?
For now the randy producer will wait in prison while his appeal for a new trial works its way through the New York justice system. Weinstein has also been charged with rape and sexual assault by Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and will hope to escape the long arm of justice on the West Coast. These charges stem from a two-day period in 2013 which is 4 years before The New York Times determined their report on the famous sexual predator was “fit to print.” Maybe in another 23 years the they’ll tell us why they refused to report the story for so long.