Harvey Weinstein’s conviction should send the right message to other sexual offenders, says the executive director of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.
On Monday, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of rape and sexual assault against two women in a New York courtroom.
Patricia Arango said it did not matter that Weinstein was a powerful person. Famous or not, perpetrators can be convicted of their crimes.
“There can be consequences. Before, there were no consequences. They would never hold them accountable for what they did. To have this guy convicted is huge,” Arango said.
A jury found the former film producer guilty of sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013. He was acquitted on the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault.
Sentencing is set for March 11, and Weinstein must still face other charges in Los Angeles.
Arango said it will be difficult for those who testified to see Weinstein acquitted on some charges.
“I can imagine how they are feeling right now. But in general, it’s a very powerful message. A powerful, very recognized person in the world, can be convicted.”
The Weinstein verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and “that’s-Hollywood” excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works.
She said some victims completely shutdown and don’t want to hear anything about the Weinstein case, while others recognize it as a victory.
Arango said victims continue to come forward in central Alberta to tell their story because of the #MeToo movement that helped to identify Weinstein.
She recalled how a 40-year-old woman finally came in to talk about a relationship she had with a 26-year-old man when she was only 13 years old.
She said almost every day, support centre staff visit people who disclose they are victims while attending the hospital.
Last year, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre received 449 new counselling clients, 504 in 2018, and 83 so far this year.
“Don’t stay in silence, because we can make this end one day. Sexual assault is preventable. It’s not going to happen in my lifetime, but it’s going to happen one day,” said Arango.
— With files by The Associated Press