'Fight far from over': Survivors, others on Weinstein conviction

Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been convicted of sexual assault and rape.

    Survivors and victims of sexual violence, their supporters and others have hailed Monday's conviction of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein as a "landmark" verdict, but said their "fight was far from over". 

    Once one of Hollywood's most powerful producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. He faces up to 25 years in prison on the sexual assault conviction. 

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    The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape.

    The case was a milestone for the #MeToo movement, which was re-energised following the accusations against Weinstein. Women across the world went public with misconduct allegations, many against powerful men in several industries. 

    "While it is disappointing that today's outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator," the Silence Breakers, a group of Weinstein accusers, said in a statement. 

    "This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out," the group added. "Their bravery will forever be remembered in history. Our fight is far from over."

    Prosecutors bolstered their case against Weinstein by calling several other accusers as witnesses. 

    One of these women, The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors Weinstein came into her apartment one night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her.

    Though the accusation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, prosecutors offered it to show Weinstein was a repeat sexual offender.

    "For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere, thank you," tweeted actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to go on the record against Weinstein in the New York Times. 

    "Today is a powerful day & a huge step forward in our collective healing," tweeted actress Rose McGowan, one of the Silence Breakers. 

    Mira Sorvino, another woman who was part of the group, tweeted that Monday was "the beginning of #justice. More to come, my sisters". 

    More than 80 accusers

    More than 80 women had accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. He had denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual. His defence lawyers have said Weinstein will appeal against Monday's conviction. 

    "This trial - and the jury's decision today - marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse and assault at work," said Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of the Time's Up Foundation. 

    "The jury's verdict sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement," she added. "While we celebrate this historic moment, our fight to fix the broke system that has allowed serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein to abuse women in the first place continues. Abusers every where and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back." 

    According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), of every 1,000 sexual assaults in the United State, 995 perpetrators will walk free. 

    Tarana Burke, who founded the MeToo movement more than a decade ago to support survivors of sexual assault, shared a statement from the movement that said a lot of work still must be done. 

    #MeToo protest
    People participate in a protest march for survivors of sexual assault and their supporters in Los Angeles, California [File: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters] 

    "Though today a man has been found guilty, we have to wonder whether anyone will care about the rest of us tomorrow. This is why we say MeToo," the statement read. 

    Weinstein now faces charges in Los Angeles, California. In that case, announced just as the New York trial was getting under way on January 6, authorities allege he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights during Oscars week in 2013.

    In addition to the criminal cases, Weinstein and the company he founded are facing civil lawsuits filed by dozens of women for various allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

    Lawyers for many of the women as well as creditors of the Weinstein Company, former board members and insurers have reached a proposed civil settlement worth approximately $47m. About $25m is expected to be available for compensating women who alleged abuse, according to a report by the New York Times.

    The agreement would need court approval.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies