Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault defense and victim blaming

Harvey Weinstein is a 67-year-old Hollywood producer facing life in prison if convicted of rape and predatory sexual assault charges he has denied.

Weinstein accusers—more than 80 in total–began the #MeToo movement in 2017.

Women came forward with allegations that he used his Hollywood status as a way to assault and abuse women, frequently by luring them into his hotel “office” room with promises to talk about career opportunities.

Attorneys delivered their final arguments in a case brought forward by only two women. Legal action was not an option for others for a variety of reasons: either the case was too far in the past to pursue legal action; or the crime occurred outside the jurisdiction of the New York courts; or the personal cost to testify seemed too high.

defense: victim blaming by a female lead attorney

Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, argued that a social justice push has made it acceptable for women to not take responsibility for their actions and retroactively decide that sexual encounters were actually assault.

“In [the prosecutors’] universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their own careers, the hotel room invitations, the plane tickets they accept, the jobs they ask for help to obtain,” Rotunno said.

Rotunno’s argument is called “victim blaming” and possibly the most widespread and pervasive cover for sexual assault. Is victim blaming right or wrong? Laura and Tim debate the issue here.

Geek out on victim blaming here.

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