February 25, 2020
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published an article discussing the Weinstein conviction and quoting RPJ Partner Heidi Reavis as an expert in the legal field of sexual harassment and assault cases. The article specifically addressed what impact the particular convicted and acquitted charges could have on sex-crimes cases moving forward. The opinion from legal experts across the board, it said, is that the conviction will embolden more victims to come forward and prosecutors to take on their cases, even in cases where the proof relies heavily on victim credibility. Reavis noted further in the article how acquittal on the charges of predatory sexual assault underscores the need to educate the public about the vital importance of ‘real time’ physical evidence. “The fact that Sciorra’s testimony was in effect disregarded may ultimately mean that law enforcement offices step up their communications to the public about the vital importance of capturing forensic evidence right away,” she said.
Later in the evening, after another interview with Reavis, Yahoo! Finance reported in detail on Weinstein’s sentencing and the likelihood of his being sentenced to the maximum number of years. The article quoted Reavis heavily, explaining the range of factors allowing Judge Burke to have some license in this regard. “It’s hard to imagine Judge Burke not levying the maximum sentence against Weinstein based on the court of public opinion,” she said, additionally explaining how the fact that Judge Burke remanded Weinstein immediately to jail further indicates his intention to have Weinstein serve time.
Reavis highlighted the victim impact statements as factors in sentencing. “One aspect of the victim impact statements may be to blunt the negative impact of the Weinstein defense team on conceptions of damage and memory.”
“The public may not generally appreciate how victims of rape and sexual assault experience those crimes with all five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. So rape and sexual assault victims’ memories are not simply a matter of mental recollection—human sensing organs are associated with each particular sense,” Reavis explained. “So the approach of the ‘memory experts’ in Weinstein’s defense team have been particularly demeaning of the witnesses and misleading of the public about the profound and permanent damage often experienced by victims. Hopefully the victims’ direct impact statements of the profound and permanent harm done to them will be given full credence by the judge at sentencing.”
Reavis was also quoted in People’s article on Weinstein’s sentencing, discussing the lasting implications of his registration as a sex offender, and in VICE, explaining that, at least in New York, an civil lawsuits brought against him after this point will likely use his convictions as undeniable evidence. In USA TODAY, she was quoted expressing that the question now on the table is how the conviction in this case will change how we treat victims and allegations of sexual assault hereafter.
“The real challenge is how we as a society do a better job supporting victims of sexual assault, harassment and discrimination so women can live without fear for speaking out, and how we do a better job preventing these assaults from happening in the first place,” she said.
Read Reavis’s full comments in the articles below:
“How much time will Harvey Weinstein serve in prison? Legal experts weigh in,” Yahoo! Finance
“Weinstein Conviction ‘Landmark Step’ for Sex-Crime Prosecutions,” The Wall Street Journal
“How much prison time will Harvey Weinstein see after rape, sex assault convictions?” People
“What Happens Now That Harvey Weinstein Is Officially a Convicted Rapist?” VICE
“Harvey Weinstein verdict: What will ‘a new era’ mean to #MeToo, Hollywood and sex-crime prosecutions?” USA TODAY