Harvey Weinstein conviction reversed. What about #MeToo movement?

Harvey Weinstein conviction reversed. What about #MeToo movement?

Disgraced Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein won a legal victory last week when his 2020 convictions for felony sex crimes, including rape, were overturned by the New York Court of Appeals. Mr. Weinstein’s legal team successfully argued that the New York trial judge had erred in allowing witness testimony about prejudicial acts for which the defendant was not charged. The former film producer is still serving a 16-year sentence for a 2022 rape conviction in California.

But experts in workplace safety and culture point to substantive gains that are tough to undo and likely to outlast Mr. Weinstein. 

Why We Wrote This

It took a vigorous movement called #MeToo to counter long-standing sexual misconduct and abuse in American life. While two high-profile convictions have been overturned, experts say progress continues.

High-profile convictions of men like Mr. Weinstein and Bill Cosby, whose criminal case was also overturned, opened the door to people believing survivors, says Terri Boyer, founding director at Villanova University’s Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership. 

“That #MeToo piece, the whole purpose of it was to bring the stories to the fore so people understand that it does happen,” she says. 

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein won a legal victory last week when his 2020 convictions for felony sex crimes, including rape, were overturned by a New York Court of Appeals. But experts say the reversal falls far short of erasing the hard-won progress of recent years, including the passage of hundreds of state laws aimed at gender equity and workplace safety.

Accusations against Mr. Weinstein had accelerated the #MeToo movement, which has focused attention on protecting – and believing – survivors of sexual violence, and on combating workplace harassment.

Even after last week’s legal reversal, experts in workplace safety and culture point to substantive gains that are tough to undo and likely to outlast Mr. Weinstein. Those gains range from societal shifts that empower survivors of sexual assault and misconduct, to legal changes that support workplace safety and gender equality.

Why We Wrote This

It took a vigorous movement called #MeToo to counter long-standing sexual misconduct and abuse in American life. While two high-profile convictions have been overturned, experts say progress continues.

“Whether our laws are adequate to address harassment and whether companies are implementing good systems to prevent and respond to harassment, that’s all independent of Harvey Weinstein,” says Elizabeth Tippett, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. “The #MeToo movement never really did rise or fall on the one person.”

For many women, the reversal in New York has added weight, given recent restrictions and churning around reproductive health care across the United States. Mr. Weinstein’s victory underscores their concerns on a slate of issues related to women’s agency, safety, and equality. 

Those who saw Mr. Weinstein’s convictions as victories, more broadly, for the rights of women and survivors of sexual assault, have responded to the news with dismay, saying the successful appeal betrays #MeToo’s legacy. Women need to pay attention, they say – and get organized. 

Attorney Gloria Allred addresses reporters after Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape at a Los Angeles trial, Dec. 19, 2022.

“We have to keep pushing forward,” says Gloria Allred, the women’s rights attorney who represented one of the key prosecution witnesses in Mr. Weinstein’s New York trial. 

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