Final month, as a brand new intercourse crimes trial started for Harvey Weinstein in Los Angeles, protection legal professional Mark Werksman insisted that Weinstein was falsely accused by ladies and was the sufferer of the #MeToo motion.
Throughout opening arguments, Werksman attacked California First Associate Jennifer Siebel Newsom as “just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead” whereas claiming others had both “made up” the assaults or engaged in transactional intercourse. After Siebel Newsom testified in courtroom that Weinstein raped her, Weinstein’s attorneys claimed that she “indicated [her] pleasure.” He even requested her to re-create a faked orgasm in courtroom.
I love Siebel Newsom and different courageous ladies who’ve referred to as out Weinstein’s crimes — particularly contemplating my very own preliminary misgivings about coming ahead and my worry of him, once I had far much less to lose. I used to be the accountant for each Miramax and the Weinstein Co. for 28 years, and I turned conscious of a sample of accusations in opposition to Weinstein in late 2014, a number of years earlier than they broke right into a public scandal.
Seeing his protection in courtroom, I can inform you Weinstein hasn’t modified one bit: He has used intimidation for many years in opposition to ladies to attempt to discredit and silence them. It shouldn’t have labored for so long as it did.
The onus to talk out in opposition to Weinstein and predators like him mustn’t solely be on survivors. Males in positions like mine can and should assist by exposing the sexual misconduct of their friends, co-workers and managers and guaranteeing that abusers are uncovered and held accountable.
Trying again, I do know I ought to have publicly spoken up sooner when it was clear the board would do nothing. Although I didn’t know the complete extent of his abuse, I attempted to work internally within the firm to cease him beginning in 2014, and I got here ahead publicly solely after reporters from the New York Occasions contacted me in 2017. They’d been alerted by survivors of the abuse, who confirmed the braveness no bystanders had displayed.
I used to be an unlikely supply on the pervasive sexual abuse by some of the highly effective folks in Hollywood. I started working as an accountant for Miramax in 1989. For years, I had heard rumors of sleazy habits involving Weinstein. I wrote these experiences off as him being a womanizer. Nevertheless, as I started to understand the depravity and extent of his habits, and after dozens of ladies publicly accused Invoice Cosby of sexual assault, I got here to see these accounts as a disturbing sample that was sure to proceed. My daughter Shari, then 25, insisted that I act. She made clear that it might be cowardly to stay silent. She was proper.
Initially, I attempted to confront Harvey and to work throughout the Weinstein Co. to rein in his habits. In November 2014, I despatched an e-mail to Weinstein imploring him to “[s]top doing bad shit.” He confronted me the subsequent day and, though he admitted nothing, referred to me disparagingly as “the sex police” from then on out. I, and different executives, additionally tried to influence his brother, Bob Weinstein, and several other board members to power Weinstein to go away the corporate.
As a substitute, the corporate gave Weinstein a brand new contract that included a cost construction to punish him if the corporate entered into settlements to compensate victims of his abuse. Below that deal, Weinstein would cowl the prices of future settlements and pay a $250,000 monetary penalty for his first offense, with escalating penalties. This sickening “incentive structure” condoned Weinstein’s dangerous habits and made clear that he was there to remain.
The lads controlling the corporate selected complicity over the protection and dignity of ladies whom Weinstein preyed upon. Nevertheless, as soon as some ladies who had been abused by Weinstein confirmed the braveness to return ahead to the New York Occasions, I knew I needed to take a threat and do the identical.
Males have a essential function to play in ending sexual assault, harassment and misconduct. As males represent nearly all of enterprise leaders, together with administrators of boards, they’re usually well-positioned to make use of their energy to carry different males accountable, to assist survivors and to make sure that extra misconduct doesn’t happen. By not believing survivors or failing to take satisfactory motion, males have too usually enabled particular person actors and techniques that perpetuate sexual abuse. Accountability for Weinstein got here solely after numerous males and a few well-known ladies had enabled Weinstein’s habits for many years.
I don’t know whether or not the abuse would have ended sooner if I had alerted somebody outdoors the corporate in 2015.
Weinstein’s new legal trial is occurring 5 years after the #MeToo motion ignited, and I hope that the protection’s victim-blaming ways will fail on this period. Regardless, they’re indicative of the assaults and trauma ladies proceed to face for telling the reality. Survivors bear huge burdens. They need to not have to talk out alone too. Males in positions like mine can and should bolster that fact.
When pushed by my daughter, I did communicate as much as the board eight years in the past and assist the reporters’ investigation 5 years in the past. As we speak, I acknowledge that silence within the face of abuse is complicity.
Irwin Reiter was the chief vice chairman of accounting and monetary reporting on the Weinstein Co.