Actor and photographer Erika Rosenbaum was out enjoying the sunshine when she got the first text from a friend.
Then five texts. And a flood of emails and calls.
Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul whose case has become emblematic of the #metoo movement, was finally behind bars.
“You could never have sold me this script if I was a movie producer,” said the Montreal-based Rosenbaum, who is among the more than 90 women who’ve publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, and never quite believed he’d face justice.
“I cannot fathom what’s going through his mind today, but I really hope that people everywhere recognize that even the very rich and the very powerful and the seemingly untouchable will be held to account for this kind of behaviour.”
The 67-year-old was found guilty of rape and sexual assault against two women in a New York courtroom Monday, and faces up to 29 years in prison.
The jury did not find him guilty of the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying up to a life sentence. It was the first criminal trial to arise out of allegations from many more women. Most of those cases were too old to prosecute.
Rosenbaum is one of a group of around 30, which includes Ashley Judd and Rosanna Arquette, who spoke out about the now convicted serial predator in the original New York Times and New Yorker reporting.
They call themselves the Silence Breakers.
“It’s a sort of a unique group that no one asked to be a part of, but we’re all so grateful to be together and to have each other’s support,” the 39-year-old said by phone Monday afternoon.
Rosenbaum has alleged that Weinstein made aggressive sexual advances during three separate meetings about 15 years ago, including one in a hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival where she said he held her by the back of her neck and masturbated while standing behind her. Weinstein has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying any sexual activity was consensual.
“I know that this is really just the beginning, this isn’t the end,” she said. “But that untouchable man that we were all so afraid of for so long, he was sitting in Rikers (island jail) when we were doing our press interviews today.”
Twenty-three members of Silence Breakers, including Rosenbaum, released a joint statement on Twitter after the verdict was announced.
“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,” it read in part.
“This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out … their bravery will forever be remembered in history.”
Rosenbaum does feel the entertainment industry is changing, especially in Canada, where she says the union ACTRA “stepped up to the plate immediately.”
It has hosted open forums for members, and introduced a code of conduct for sets. And there are lots of “survivor-led initiatives” to combat abuse. Like #Aftermetoo, a movement working towards ending workplace sexual violence, co-founded by Canadian actress Mia Kirshner.
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Known for her roles on The L Word, and 24, Kirshner told the New York Times that Weinstein offered her a career opportunity in exchange for sex, which she rejected, in a hotel room when she was 19.
“The jury came back. Harvey Weinstein is found guilty. He is. He did this,” she tweeted Monday.
“Personally, I am happy to see his conviction and that some justice has been served. There is still so much more to do to address, repair, and change a system that allows and protects a sexual predator, and overlooks the safety of women and vulnerable people,” added producer, writer, director and co-creator of #AfterMeToo Aisling Chin-Yee in an email.
“This conviction only scratches the surface to account for Weinstein’s predatory behaviour.”
For Rosenbaum, there’s a sense that this moment represents one battle.
“But really the war wages on for equality, in every industry and every part of life.”