Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette, Mira Sorvino and over a dozen other women known as the Silence Breakers — all of whom spoke out against Harvey Weinstein — reacted to the news of the disgraced movie mogul’s conviction by saying their legal fight is not over.
In an emotional conference call Monday after a New York jury found Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act, the women expressed their gratitude to the six “courageous” women who provided testimony.
“Today because of the brave women who bared their deepest hurt for the world to see, he’s in Rikers Island. For once, he won’t be sitting comfortably,” McGowan said on the call. “Today is not a referendum on #MeToo. This is taking out the trash.”
Though many of the women were disappointed that Weinstein was not found guilty on all five charges Weinstein faced, they are looking ahead to another trial in Los Angeles, where he faces charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.
In addition to the call, the group issued the following joint statement:
“While it is disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator. This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out. Despite intimidation from Weinstein’s legal team, they courageously shared their stories with the jury, the courtroom and the world. This has been a flawed process from the beginning but has further exposed the difficulties women face in coming forward to tell the truth about powerful abusers. Their bravery will forever be remembered in history. Our fight is far from over. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has brought charges against Weinstein and we hope he will be met with swift justice. As we have said from our very first statement together as Silence Breakers: we refuse to be silenced and will continue to speak out until this unrepentant abuser is brought to justice.”
Several of the women on the call, some of whom read prepared statements and others who spoke candidly, said they were preparing for a “not guilty” verdict but were relieved at the outcome.
“This was a huge day. I’m crying right now because I expected the worst because, for us, the worst keeps happening. In Hollywood especially to sexual assault victims, the worst keeps happening,” Zoe Brock said on the call. “When Roman Polanski got a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival last year, I really just anticipated that Harvey Weinstein was going to get off today and that he would make a comeback and that he would go to the Oscars and he would win again. But that’s not going to happen because Harvey Weinstein is a convicted rapist. And right now he is sitting in Riker’s jail, and I am so happy about it and for everyone who came forward, and my heart weeps right now for everybody. I think it’s the best news.”
The women said that the trial served as a symbol of the growth that has been made since the #MeToo movement, pointing out that both in the court of public opinion and in the court of law, the testimony of victims is being taken seriously and is believed.
“It really showed that victim shaming will not work as a defense anymore. We saw it during the [Bill] Cosby case, and now it’s been confirmed during the Harvey Weinstein case. There’s no such thing as a perfect victim,” Lauren Sivan said. “It shows that rape is rape, sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter the victim’s behavior, no matter what they wore, what they said, what they did. I am so grateful the jury saw through that. I hope this really resets the legal system to catch up with the cultural movement that we have started, and hopefully younger generations will make sure we will move forward and not backwards with what we have started.”
Louise Godbold, too, wants to see a change in the legal system, starting with a change in the rules to statutes of limitations that never protect the victims. She also hoped that future trials might not be as traumatizing for victims.
“Why does this have to be so traumatizing for survivors? Mimi [Haleyi], Jess [Mann], Annabella [Sciorra] and all the other women, they were the ones who were on trial. They were the ones whose phones were seized, whose every last email and medical record was scrutinized. Harvey didn’t have to go through that. How is that fair,” Godbold said. “We have to look at the way we press charges, the way we conduct these trials, so that it’s less traumatizing, so that more survivors of sexual assault will have the courage to come forward and not fear that there will be a second violation.”
Following the verdict Monday, Weinstein was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody. He could face up to 29 years in prison for the crimes when he is sentenced on March 11. An appeal is expected.
The jury found Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape of Jessica Mann and a criminal sexual act of Miriam Haley (née Mimi Haleyi). However, the panel found him not guilty of two of the most serious charges — predatory sexual assault against Haley, Mann and “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra — and the first-degree rape of Mann.
The Silence Breakers include (not all women listed below were represented on the conference call):
Melissa Sagemiller Nesic
Sarah Ann Masse