By now, even those most unaware of what’s going on in the world know about Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein was a powerful Hollywood producer of Oscar-nominated films such as “Shakespeare in Love.” He has been fired from the company he co-founded with his brother, The Weinstein Company, after more than 40 allegations of sexual harassment and assault have become public.
A New York Times article about Weinstein’s alleged behavior with female employees and actresses, and a tweet by actress Ashley Judd started a cascade of admissions by many famous actresses to the same effect.
Through his lawyer, Mr. Weinstein has denied ever sexually assaulting anyone, the reports show a pattern that is hard to miss.
Later in October, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
She quoted a friend as saying, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
The hashtag was tweeted nearly 1 million times in 48 hours. In addition, it was shared by over 12 million people in 24 hours on Facebook.
Before this, in 2007, another “me too” campaign was started by Tarana Burke, a youth activist. Her goal was to let other sex abuse survivors know that they were not alone. Milano later credited Burke.
What Does This Mean For Law Enforcement?
In the wake of Fox News’s Eric Bolling scandal, sexual harassment is as a form of gender discrimination.
If you read the reports from young women working for Weinstein, they definitely felt coerced to perform disturbing things in order to receive positions in the industry.
Weinstein was using the power he had to take advantage of vulnerable women.
Those who claim to have been raped by Weinstein have more than sexual harassment charges to bring. He has settled out of court with several women over two decades in his career. If it is true, he could be criminally charged. However, short of rape, these are some sexually harassing behaviors which can result in criminal charges.
Sexual Harassment Behaviors That Can Result in Criminal Charges
Forcible touching of someone’s intimate body parts, including the inner thigh, under coercion or threat of force, could be a second-degree felony punishable by fifteen years prison and mandatory inclusion on the sex offender registry.
This depends on the severity of the criminal sexual conduct. The charge and penalty will be enhanced if the perpetrator is in a position of authority over the victim.
Assault or Menacing
Assault or menacing is physical violence or threat of physical violence. This includes:
- Showing up unannounced
- Physically following someone
- Repeatedly sending unwanted messages via text or the internet.
Physical restraint can fall under the law against unlawful imprisonment and it can include intentionally restricting the liberty of someone else by confining them or by moving them from place to place, or by intimidating a victim into staying in one location in order to subject them to unwanted and offensive conduct.
Regardless of the law’s ability to prosecute Mr. Weinstein for his past alleged crimes, the “me too” movement has exposed the huge problem sexual harassment can be in Hollywood and in many avenues of life.
If you have been accused of sexual harassment, it is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you.