On Tuesday morning, 11 of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, members of the activist group Silence Breakers, held a press conference at Los Angeles’ City Hall to laud his conviction. As they took turns at the podium, the women thanked the jury and prosecutors, praised the women who had testified in the New York trial, and lashed out at Weinstein and his attorneys.
They also expressed gratified surprise that Weinstein, with all of his resources, had actually been found guilty of rape and sexual assault, and will be sentenced to at least five years in prison.
Actor Rosanna Arquette, the second at the podium, was interrupted by a pro-Donald Trump heckler, who was quickly asked to leave. But Arquette was not fazed. “This seismic cultural change that began two and a half years ago has been brought to a legal conclusion,” she said. “Think about that; I want you to take this in. It is a historic shift that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.”
Arquette also praised “the brave women who have testified at this trial, who went through their own personal hell to bring us this moment of justice.”
“Change is coming,” she concluded.
Louisette Geiss, the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed against Weinstein, said: “Harvey, you messed with the wrong women. We will see you here in Los Angeles, where hopefully your conviction will leave you in jail for life.”
“It is documented that only 1 to 3% of these rape cases get convicted,” Geiss continued. “So Harvey, congratulations on being in the top percent once again. And we will get you in L.A.”
Journalist Lauren Sivan, who was one of the first new Weinstein accusers to come forward after the initial New York Times investigation broke in October 2017, said: “This is a great day, not just for all of us up here. Many of us didn’t think this day would come — we were actually really nervous and holding our breath. There was a very good chance that he would walk. The fact that he hasn’t shows that things are changing. This is a new day. The jury saw through all the BS and the lies his defense team tried to put out there.”
Actor Jessica Barth used her time at the podium to directly address Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno, who was interviewed by reporter Megan Twohey earlier this month on the New York Times podcast “The Daily.” When asked whether she had ever been sexually assaulted herself, Rotunno replied, “I have not. Because I would never put myself in that position.”
“I would like to say something to Donna Rotunno. I want to speak for the one of three women and one of four men who are victims of sexual violence,” Barth said. “I want to say that it has nothing to do with putting yourself in that position. Accepting a meeting with a Hollywood icon who’s produced every single independent film that you grew up loving, that made you fall in love with acting, that encouraged you and inspired you to come work in this industry to begin with, is not putting yourself in that position. Being alone in your apartment and having that same person barge into your door and rape you is not putting yourself in that position. This is a man that Meryl Streep once called ‘God.’ You think if Meryl Streep once referred to him as ‘God,’ you can trust him.”
Weinstein will be sentenced in New York City on March 11. After that, he will face criminal proceedings in Los Angeles, where he has been charged with four counts of sexual assault from accusations brought by two different women from incidents within days of each other in 2013.
When the press conference turned to questions, the group was asked whether they would want to be called as supporting witnesses in the Los Angeles trial, and the answer appeared to be a unanimous yes.
“Now we can turn our attention to the upcoming trial here in L.A.,” said Larissa Gomes. “We have an opportunity to build on this momentum.”