The Accusations Against Weinstein are Not Credible
It is no exaggeration to say that Harvey Weinstein is the face of #MeToo: the first accused (though far from the last) and the one most universally acknowledged as a loathsome predator. Yet out of the 80 or more women who publicly accused him of everything from indecent exposure to rape, only 2 accusers (so far) are facing him in court. And even these two cases are no slam-dunk.
An article in The Economist entitled Harvey Weinstein’s Trials conveyed unmistakably that convictions against Weinstein for sexual assault, rape in the first degree and rape in the third degree are far from assured, but doesn’t clearly explain why, falling back on the standard feminist talking points. It alleges that rape is a difficult crime to prove. A feminist academic is quoted as saying that New York’s “broad definition of consent is particularly victim-unfriendly” because of its “assumption that women by default always consent to sex unless they are forced or clearly state otherwise.”
Indeed, an adult woman who does not say no to sex she later claims she definitely didn’t want does not make a very convincing rape claimant.
But what the article never mentions is the nature of the evidence in the Weinstein case, and it is the nature of the evidence that is most relevant to his alleged crimes, and that casts new light on all the confident statements about Weinstein’s guilt we have heard so often.
Evidence presented by Weinstein’s former legal counsel in a motion to dismiss charges suggested that rather than being victims, the women now preparing to testify against the once media mogul had long-term affectionate relationships with him, and that these relationships extended long after the alleged sexual assaults.
In the case of the first complainant, known only as Witness #1, a former close friend of this woman who spent time with the alleged victim and Weinstein together in New York City at the time of the alleged rape, told the Weinstein defense counsel that she saw the woman and Weinstein together on multiple occasions in New York City, including after the alleged assault in March of 2013. According to this witness, the woman and Weinstein had a long-term sexual relationship, and she never heard the complainant say anything bad about Mr. Weinstein—on the contrary, she spoke very highly of him—and the woman never told this friend or indicated in any manner that she had been raped by Mr. Weinstein. It was only years later, when the complainant decided to make her public accusation against Weinstein, that she phoned her friend—they hadn’t spoken together for two years at this time– and asked her to support and assist her in pursuing her allegations.
In the case of the only other complainant, whose name is Mimi or Miriam Haleyi, we have a somewhat similar situation. There is a great deal of email correspondence to show that Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Haleyi maintained a close, cordial, and affectionate relationship long after the alleged sexual assault, which she claims took place in July 2006. Like the other complainant, Haleyi did not report the alleged sexual assault at the time, waiting 11 years to do so. Also like the other complainant, Haleyi continued to reach out to her friend Harvey in the years following the alleged incident. Seven months after the alleged rape, Ms. Haleyi texted Mr. Weinstein asking if he had any time to see her. She also emailed him in 2008 to say that it was great to see him in Cannes, concluding the email “Lots of love.” In 2009, she wrote expressing sadness that she had not seen him in “so long” and signed off “Peace and love.”
In sum, Weinstein faces serious charges based on two women’s complaints, one from an incident said to have occurred four years before she reported it, another from an incident said to have occurred 11 years before she reported it. Both complainants, though now willing to see Mr. Weinstein go to prison for the rest of his life, maintained a close and friendly relationship with him for years. Far from seeking to avoid the man they claim assaulted them, they sought him out. The first complaining witness, in fact, continued a consensual sexual affair with him for many years after the supposed assault.
Of course, none of this evidence proves that Harvey Weinstein is not guilty, but it does raise reasonable doubt and it should raise serious questions about why such a high-profile prosecution could go forward based on years-old allegations and dubious accusations. The feminist response to the defense evidence is easy to predict, and Gloria Allred, lawyer for Mimi Haleyi, has already formulated it: just because a woman maintained a close relationship with a man or sent him friendly emails doesn’t mean he didn’t rape her. This is now feminist orthodoxy, encapsulated in a theory of female rape trauma and officially promoted to police, prosecutors, and judges as part of something called trauma-informed investigation.
The basic idea is that rape victims do not necessarily behave in the way one would expect a victim to behave. The theory, like most feminist theories, is emotionally compelling enough to overshadow its assault on common sense. The theory alleges that behavior such as failing to report to police, misremembering events, contradicting oneself, having outright denied that one was raped, withholding evidence from the police, telling lies, and continuing a friendship or sexual relationship with the accused are all indications of rape trauma; they are the way the victim deals with her sense of betrayal and self-blame.
The fact that the behaviors are also potent indications of a false accusation doesn’t bother the feminist advocates, who never saw an accused they didn’t want to march to the gallows. The baseline feminist argument is that the fabrications and play-acting and suppression of truth and generally unreliable behavior of a woman in the past should not in the slightest impede our belief in her credibility in the present. Sure, she may have lied to herself and others for years—but she’s not lying now. How do we know that? Supposedly because it is so painful to come forward as a victim, despite the money, fame, public sympathy, and personal satisfaction in doing so. According to the theory, we can’t believe a woman wasn’t raped because she acted normal and continued to date the man after the alleged incident, but we must believe her when she accuses him of rape years later, in the midst of a frenzy of similar allegations.
If these were cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, they seem to have been ones in which the women were enthusiastic and conscious collaborators. It is shocking that any man should face a long prison sentence on the basis of their paper-thin claims.