This is the third in a series of blog posts on my reflections as an employment attorney on the unprecedented demise of Harvey Weinstein. Feel free to read my first blog post "Now is the Time to Revisit Anita Hill's Historic Testimony Following Harvey Weinstein's Unprecedented Demise," my second blog post, "What has Caused this Litany of Sexually-Abusive Predators to Escape Prosecution and Punishment?"
Let's face it. The casting couch is nothing new. Nor are charges of sexual extortion, sexual assault and rape deliberately concealed by some and ignored by others inside or outside of Tinseltown. Scroll through the headlines on your phone and victims, both male and female, in just about every occupation are sharing their own personal experiences over the last couple of weeks. McKayla Maroney claims that she was sexually abused her entire career by USA Gymnastics Dr. Nassar. Not a day goes by that some woman has not claimed to have been sexually harassed/assaulted by former President Bill Clinton and current President Donald Trump.
So Why did Harvey Weinstein become the Poster child for Sexual Harassment/Abuse in the Workplace Exposing a Systemic Problem Beyond Hollywood that has had Increasing Momentum?
The litany of public figures is so long that we can hardly keep up. Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly .... even the parade of trashy women who slept with Tiger Woods or were drugged by Bill Cosby didn’t these giant public figures down so quickly. So what caused the unprecedented demise of Harvey Weinstein faster than the speed of light? Public condemnation has not only hit every type of news, print and digital media, but Mr. Weinstein's on-going arrogant responses have only increased the momentum.
- The public statements released by Harvey Weinstein, Lisa Bloom, his former attorney, and all other spokespersons in defense of these claims were so arrogant and outrageous that everyone - and I mean everyone- in the world jumped on social media.
- Mr. Weinstein threatened to sue the New York Times.
- Ms. Bloom described Mr. Weinstein as “an old dinosaur learning new tricks.”
- Mr. Weinstein says, “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”
- Then Mr. Weinstein says, “Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year, I've asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she's put together a team of people. I've brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women and regret what happened.”
- And then Mr. Weinstein says,“One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won't disappoint her." USC School of Cinematic Arts quickly rejected Weinstein's $5 milllion pledge which just happened to follow shortly after a USC student launched a petition on Change.org calling on the school to refuse what she called "Harvey Weinstein's blood money."
- Unnamed spokespersons state that Mr. Weinstein unequivocally denies any non-consensual claims even after the tape of the model was releasedIn a matter of days, countless women, including superstars, came forward with detailed allegations ranging from forced vaginal and oral sex to Mr. Weinstein doing the unthinkable in a potted plant that is all too reminiscent of Professor Anita Hill’s testimony about her former boss, Clarence Thomas, then Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asking who put the pubic hair on his coke can. At lightning speed, Mr. Weinstein was fired by his namesake company, dumped by his wife, attorneys and handlers, ostracized not only by his longtime friends, collaborators, but his own brother, ousted from the Motion Picture Academy, expelled from the Producers Guild of America, and even abandoned by democratic political leaders who relied on his endorsement and donations.
- Before taking his private plane to his $2000 a night sex offender rehab program, Mr. Weinstein continues to resist the narrative by stating, “You know what? We all make mistakes… second chance, I hope…” Mr. Weinstein then turns to photographers reminding them that "I've always been loyal to you guys, not like those f**king pricks who treat you like s**t" in obvious reference to HOllywood's A-list, many of whom have condemned him.
- But, the news cycle did not stop, the #metoo campaign opened the floodgates so that every single person in America who had been sexually harassed or abused posted about their own experiences.
The answer is simple. Public condemnation is what brought Harvey Weinstein down and has now metastasized.
For more information on sexual harassment/abuse in the workplace, feel free to contact Lisa Sherman at (424) 249 -3631 or email her at [email protected]