Six women testified during the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, and now that the former movie mogul was found guilty of two felony charges, those women are speaking out with newfound freedom.
Miriam Haley, who was assaulted by Weinstein in 2006, resulting in him being convicted of a criminal sex act (which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years), appeared on “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning” and “The View” to break her silence — this time, not in a criminal courtroom.
Haley used her platform to urge the public to shift the conversation away from victim-blaming, slamming Weinstein’s legal team for criticizing the women’s choices, rather than their client’s choice to rape them.
“It’s really amazing that we’re making progress. We’re being more educated about sexual assault and sexual assault victims and what all of that often involves,” Haley said on “The View,” alongside her attorney Gloria Allred.
Referring to Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno’s headline-making claim that sexual assault victims should not put themselves in a position to be assaulted, Haley added, “I don’t think we should be telling people … ‘Don’t put yourself in that position.’ I think we should be focusing on, ‘Don’t rape people.’ If they come to your house, don’t rape them. If they come to your hotel, don’t rape them.”
Garnering applause from the audience, Haley added, “I really feel like [we need] to shift the focus from constantly victim-blaming and evaluating what somebody’s part in it was, to the person who committed a crime actually taking responsibility for their choices.”
On “CBS This Morning,” Haley noted that most rapists are not found guilty by the legal system, given the low percentage of rape cases that are prosecuted, let alone ending up with a conviction. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, to be honest. I mean, the statistics say that most rapists … walk. So I didn’t know which way it would go. But I’m just very relieved and grateful and happy that it feels like we’re making progress.”
Haley said she was sitting in a coffee shop when she heard that Weinstein was found guilty, and she cried when she learned of the news.
“It was just a huge sense of relief, just a relief that the jury got it, that they believed me and that I was heard,” Haley said on “Good Morning America.”
While Haley’s testimony resulted in Weinstein’s conviction, Annabella Sciorra’s did not. The actor testified that Weinstein raped her in the early ’90s, though the jury didn’t convict Weinstein on the predatory sexual assault charge.
Allred represents Sciorra, in addition to Haley, and praised her client, despite the outcome. “I will let her speak for herself when she’s ready,” Allred said on “The View.” “But she knew, I hope, that what she did was really important, no matter the result.”
Sciorra released a statement yesterday after the verdict, saying, her testimony was “painful but necessary.”
“I think there are jurors who did believe Annabella Sciorra,” Allred said. “It’s just that they felt that it didn’t rise to the level of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but I admire her courage and all of the courage of the women who come forward because if they’re not willing to testify in a court of law, then people who prey on women will never be convicted. This is a new age. It’s the legal reckoning. And women refuse to be silent about injustices against them any more.”
Tarale Wulff, a model who testified as one of the three “prior bad acts” witnesses, in order to help prove a pattern of sexual predatory assault, also broke her silence in a TV interview, sitting with ABC News’ Juju Chang on “Nightline.” Chang asked about her reaction to hearing that Weinstein is a convicted rapist.
“Hearing it said so bluntly and cleanly, it’s landing heavy right now,” Wulff said, alongside her attorney Douglas Wigdor. “I want to let it out because I’ve been holding it back for so long,” Wulff said through tears. “It is vindication”
Wulff testified that Weinstein held her down and raped her, and masturbated in front of her in 2005. She was called in twice to testify and be cross-examined by the defense. During cross-examination, Weinstein’s lawyers questioned her fragmented memories, accusing her of falsifying her story and recovering her memories of the rape with a therapist.
“I think it’s important to understand what somebody like Tarale or the other women who testified really had to go through,” Wigdor said. “I don’t think anything could prepare anyone, frankly, for walking into that room with 100 journalists with a group of defense lawyers sitting at the defense table and Harvey Weinstein looking very menacing. She was raped and then had to undergo a cross-examination, that is not easy for anyone.”
Wulff said she assumed Weinstein’s lawyers would attack her re-telling of the event, given how long ago it was, but she found relief in telling her truth.
“My story has not changed. I had never replayed it for anybody like that before,” Wulff said on “Nightline.” “That was definitely the hardest because when you say it out loud, it becomes a little more real, and when it stayed inside of me, it was my story, my secret and it didn’t have to be real. But that’s also part of the cleansing — to say it out loud.”