His Lawyers Vow to Appeal But He Now Faces an LA Trial on Similar Charges
The Undoing of the Poster Child for #MeToo Men Likely Means More Such Cases and a Continuing Change in Hollywood and Corporate America
No amount of spin can change the fact that Harvey Weinstein has been convicted and his just concluded New York trial has bolstered the #MeToo movement, sending more ripples through Hollywood, corporate America and politics. More #Metoo complaints and charges are likely in the future.
Weinstein’s lawyers are already appealing his conviction but he now faces sentencing in New York and a trial in Los Angeles on similar charges.
Despite his protestations after the verdict that he was innocent, the Weinstein conviction is clearly a watershed moment for the #Metoo movement. However, it was a split verdict by the jury as it convicted him on the lesser charges and was hung on the most serious charges,
As with any movement, there is always the chance the pendulum goes too far and then it comes back the other way. For now, this is not the justice system run amok, as Weinstein’s lawyers argued.
As New Yorker reporter and author Ronan Farrow tweeted after the verdict: “Today’s outcome in Harvey Weinstein’s New York trial is the result of the decisions of multiple women to come forward to journalists and to prosecutors at great personal cost and risk. Please keep those women in your thoughts today.”
The conviction sent more #MeToo ripples through corporate America’s legal and HR departments which need to continue dealing with how to address and prevent sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
Even before the Weinstein trial, his use of non-disclosure agreements to settle complaints by women he abused was under fire. After the Weinstein allegations and his use of NDAs first surfaced in 2017 in The New York Times and the New Yorker, 16 states introduced legislation to limit their use in lawsuits or complaints.
The NDA issue also hit the 2020 Democratic primary battle. In a debate before the Nevada Caucus, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to release women at Bloomberg News from NDAs they had signed with his company. Bloomberg stammered under questioning at the debate, then relented afterwards and agreed to release three women from their NDAs.
In the wake of Weinstein’s conviction and Bloomberg’s tepid response on the NDA issue, it’s a sure bet his Democratic opponents won’t let the issue drop.
There are other ripple effects here – Weinstein was a big Democratic donor, and President Trump himself is the subject of multiple complaints and lawsuits from women saying he harassed or abused them.
Lastly, there is the issue of other #MeToo men who made noise over the past two years of trying to mount career comebacks.
Not every man caught up in #MeToo is a Weinstein. Few if any deserve to be totally forgiven. For those who seek another chance, PR should and does have a long-term role. But the Weinstein conviction will make it harder for those other men.
About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms