Harvey Weinstein behind bars? Don’t hold your breath
Eighty-seven women say Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them. Some charge they were forcibly raped by the 66-year-old ex-movie maker. The now-disgraced Weinstein all but admitted his disreputable behavior when he reportedly said in a recent interview, “I did offer (women) acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone.” It came as no surprise when Weinstein’s criminal defense attorney, Ben Brafman, quickly announced that his infamous client had been misquoted and 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 any time 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 O.J. Simpson murder trial back in 1995? There was considerable evidence that the former NFL player-turned-actor had slaughtered both his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. The jury found him 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 of 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 out-of-court settlement with the family of a young boy who 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 10 charges related to sexual abuse of another prepubescent boy.
A Texas kid from a wealthy family named Ethan Couch drove drunk and killed four people and didn’t serve a day in prison after an expert testified that 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 commonplace in courtrooms across the country.
If convicted, 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 was released on $1 million bail and 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 his sentence, but it took time. O.J. Simpson did serve jail time but not for the reason the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had hoped. And Robert Durst is 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 McCormack Durst. Kathie Durst mysteriously vanished in 1982, and Robert Durst remains the prime suspect in her supposed murder. Michael Jackson died of a drug overdose in 2006. Ethan Couch 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.
To find out more about Diane Dimond, visit her website at www.dianedimond.com. Her latest book, “Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box,” is available on Amazon.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.