There are as many as 87 women who say Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted them in one way or another. Some charge they were forcibly raped by the 66-year-old ex-movie maker. The now disgraced Weinstein all but admitted his disreputable behavior in a recent interview when he, reportedly, said, “I did offer (women) acting jobs in exchanged for sex, but so did and still does everyone.”
It came as no surprise when Weinstein’s criminal defense attorney, Ben Brafman, quickly announced his infamous client had been misquoted and reminded that Weinstein has always denied all the charges.
No matter. The question remains: will Weinstein, who is currently free but wearing a restrictive ankle monitor, actually see the inside of a prison time anytime soon? Don’t bet on it.
Never underestimate the failure of the American jury system in these high-profile cases. The white-hot glare of media attention does something to people’s brains. Defense attorneys have excuse-making and jury manipulation down to a science. High-priced jury and trial consultants step in to help sway jurors’ thinking for those with big bucks.
Remember the first Bill Cosby sex assault trial? After more than 50 women accused “America’s Dad” of sex crimes, including drugging and raping them, he went on trial in the spring of 2017. Jurors deliberated for six days and deadlocked. Hung jury.
Remember the OJ Simpson murder trial back in 1995? There was considerable evidence that the former NFL player-turned-actor had slaughtered both his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman. The jury found OJ not guilty.
Remember the murder trial of multimillionaire wacko Robert Durst? He was living in a tiny apartment in Galveston, Texas, disguised as a mute woman, where he often fought with his cantankerous elderly neighbor, Morris Black. Durst killed Black, chopped up his body and tossed plastic garbage bags full of body parts into Galveston Bay. Once the bags floated to shore Durst was forced to admit that during an argument over a gun Morris was “accidently” shot in the head. (Mysteriously, Black’s head was never recovered) In 2003, a jury was convinced to believe Durst’s self-defense claim and acquitted him even though nearly everyone on the planet knew he was the prime suspect in at least two other previous murders.
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, dodged prosecution in 1993 when he reached a $25 million dollar out-of-court settlement with the family of a young boy that had reported child sexual abuse to Los Angeles authorities. The money assured the boy would not be a witness against the entertainer. In 2005, Jackson was acquitted after a lengthy criminal trial on 14 charges related to sexual abuse of another pre-pubescent boy.
A Texas kid from a wealthy family drove drunk and stoned, killed four people and didn’t serve a day in prison after an expert testified he suffered from “Affluenza,” an affliction of the privileged that supposedly rendered the 16-year-old incapable of comprehending the consequences of his actions.
The point, of course, is that oftentimes being rich can be a get-out-of-jail-free card. So-called “Green Justice” (as in the color of money) has become common place in courtrooms across the country.
If convicted Harvey Weinstein faces charges that could keep him in prison for the rest of his life. There are investigations into his actions with young women in New York, Los Angeles and London and the feds are investigating too. Unlike others charged similarly Weinstein isn’t languishing behind bars. He is free on $1 million bail, has surrendered his passport but is still free to travel between New York and Connecticut for visits with lawyers, doctors and other business associates. He must also wear a clunky ankle monitor so his whereabouts are always known.
With so many potential criminal charges in so many different localities one would think prison is definitely in Weinstein’s future. But words of caution for the #MeToo movement and the dozens of women who have accused the one-time Hollywood bigwig and are hoping he will soon be incarcerated. Don’t hold your breath. Even if Weinstein is ultimately convicted he will surely appeal and could continue to stay free during the lengthy process.
The phrase “justice is served” isn’t always applicable where wealthy, headline grabbing defendants are concerned.
Yes, Bill Cosby was finally convicted of sex crimes and is awaiting sentencing, but it took time. Simpson did serve jail time but not for the reason the families of Nicole and Ron had hoped. And, yes, Durst is now set to stand trial for another murder, that of his good friend Susan Berman who likely harbored too many secrets about the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kathie. Kathie Durst mysteriously vanished in 1982 and her husband remains the prime suspect in her supposed murder. Michael Jackson died of a drug overdose in 2006. Ethan Couch, the “Affluenza” teen violated his parole, fled to Mexico with his mother and once captured served two years.
Sometimes it just takes a while for justice to be served. Sometimes it remains elusive.