Harvey Weinstein has been behind bars for a year: What's changed?

Maria Puente

One year after Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sex crimes, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the headlines, and the #MeToo movement that his case helped propel has lost some steam and attention. 

What has been accomplished by the three-year-old campaign against sexual harassment and abuse, aside from Weinstein's conviction?

Scores of entertainment and media figures have been accused and driven from their careers. A handful of other men are in the early stages of criminal prosecutions.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed, especially against Weinstein and his company but remain mired in legal limbo as attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants dicker over damages. At least one #MeToo-related lawsuit may be over soon: A tentative settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit that alleged James Franco intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, Hollywood has vowed to do something about sexual misconduct in the industry. Advocacy groups such as Time's Up have been established to hold feet to the fire by, among other tactics, condemning those who attempt a comeback. There have been protests and news conferences, media surveys and reports.

A century after the founding of Hollywood, the long, sordid story of sexual harassment in the industry is fully out in the open. Whether it's been fully addressed and eliminated is another matter.

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for his sex crimes trial on Feb. 10, 2020, in New York City.

How has Weinstein's case affected Hollywood?

Singular as it is, the Weinstein case has put wrongdoers on notice of potential consequences of illegal and unethical behavior. 

Weinstein was convicted of two sex crimes, including third-degree rape, by a Manhattan jury on Feb. 24, 2020. He was sentenced on March 11 to 23 years in an upstate New York prison.

So far, Weinstein is the only major Hollywood figure who has been criminally charged and convicted of sex crimes stemming from the flood of sexual-misconduct allegations that poured out after exposés about the former industry power broker's behavior appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017.

There are at least two other criminal cases in the pipeline in Los Angeles against lesser-known entertainment figures, but so far the #MeToo movement has not produced a flood of prosecutions of A-list names like Weinstein. 

Meanwhile, the pace of public accusations lodged against Hollywood and media figures has slowed but not stopped. 

Weinstein, 68, is incarcerated at Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo in Erie County,, having completed the first year of his sentence. He's awaiting possible extradition (he's fighting it) to Los Angeles County to face similar sex crime charges there.

Has Weinstein appealed his conviction? 

He and his legal team have vowed to appeal his Manhattan conviction but they have not yet filed the brief with the state appeals court. 

Although he tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived at the prison last March, he has recovered and looked relatively healthy during a virtual hearing in December on extradition.

Harvey Weinstein's defense team, Donna Rotunno, Damon Cheronis and Arthur Aidala, huddle in the hallway during jury deliberations in Weinstein's sex-crimes trial in New York on Feb. 21, 2020.

According to his spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, Weinstein's legal team is working on "the final touches" of his appeal brief and expects to file it within 20 or 30 days. Meanwhile, the fallen mogul is doing "all right" in prison. 

He's "not enjoying the prospect of a longer term there, so he occupies his time with his legal strategy while reading history books about various luminaries and academics," Engelmayer said in an email to USA TODAY. 

"His focus is on keeping in touch with his children and focusing on being able to get out eventually and spend quality time with them as they grow up."

Why hasn't Weinstein been extradited to California? 

The extradition process has been delayed twice and is now set for early April, as a result of the pandemic still raging in Los Angeles County.

Also, a new district attorney, George Gascón, has just been elected in the county; he was not involved in the investigation and filing of charges against Weinstein in LA.

"There is no new information on the Los Angeles action, and we are watching the developments there very closely," Engelmayer said. 

George Gascon was sworn in as the newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney in December.

In the California case, Weinstein is accused of 11 felony counts of sexual assault, including forcible rape, against five women in encounters at Beverly Hills hotels dating back to 2004.

Former District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Gascón's predecessor whom he defeated in November, established a task force to investigate and prosecute sexual misconduct in Hollywood in November 2017 in the wake of the Weinstein allegations and #MeToo. 

So far, Weinstein has been the task force's major target; a number of other cases presented by police agencies to the task force were declined, including two accusations against Weinstein.

Who else is being prosecuted? 

Two other Hollywood figures have been charged with sex crimes as a direct consequence of #MeToo, both in Southern California.

Danny Masterson, star of “That ’70s Show,” has been charged by Los Angeles prosecutors with raping three women in the early 2000s. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“Extraction” and “Atomic Blonde" producer David Guillod has been charged with multiple sexual assaults, dating from the early 2000s and involving four women, by prosecutors in Santa Barbara County. He has pleaded not guilty.

Danny Masterson, left, with his attorney Tom Mesereau in court in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2020.

Is Bill Cosby a #MeToo case?

Many consider the prosecution of Bill Cosby a #MeToo case, although not directly. He was accused of sex crimes in suburban Philadelphia years before #MeToo and was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault at his second trial in 2018. He is serving a three- to-10-year sentence in a Pennsylvania state prison. 

Cosby has sought to be released from prison early because of his age (83), his health (he's blind), and the risk of contracting COVID-19. He has been turned down every time he's asked.

The state's Supreme Court accepted Cosby's appeal and heard conflicting arguments in December about whether Cosby was fairly convicted or if his trial was flawed by evidence and testimony that should have been excluded. A ruling on whether to confirm or overturn his conviction is pending.

Why were other accused men not prosecuted?

Not every accusation of sexual misconduct can be pursued by prosecutors because the allegations are too old and fall outside statutes of limitations, or there's not enough evidence or because witnesses can't be found or refuse to testify. 

Other celebrities accused and investigated were either never charged or their cases dismissed. The most prominent was Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who was accused of groping an 18-year-old bus boy in a Nantucket, Massachusetts, bar in 2016. The case collapsed at the pretrial stage in July 2019 when the accuser abruptly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination while being questioned about the mysterious disappearance of his cellphone from evidence.

A few accused men have attempted to return to Hollywood, such as filmmaker Brett Ratner, who parted ways with Warner Bros. in November 2017 after seven women accused him of sexual harassment and assault.

After a report by Deadline that independent film company Millennium Media had hired Ratner to direct a Milli Vanilli biopic, Time's Up issued a scathing statement entitled, "There Should Be No Comeback for Brett Ratner."

“Not only did Ratner never acknowledge or apologize for the harm he caused, but he also filed lawsuits in an attempt to silence the voices of survivors who came forward – a tactic right out of the predator’s playbook," Time's Up president and CEO Tina Tchen said in the statement. "You don't get to go away for a couple years and then resurface and act like nothing happened. We have not – and will not – forget. And Millennium Media shouldn’t either. There should be no comeback. #wewontforgetbrett."

What is happening in the #MeToo movement now?

The most culturally influential consequence of Weinstein's criminal case continues, albeit at a slower pace than in fall 2017, when public accusations against star entertainers and media figures surfaced almost daily.  

Just in recent months, three years after the #MeToo surge, entertainment figures have come forward to call out other celebrities with accusations of sexual and domestic abuse and abuse of power on the job. 

Evan Rachel Wood and Marilyn Manson

Evan Rachel Wood, a "Westworld" star, posted Feb. 1 on Instagram that her former fiancé, musician Marilyn Manson (aka Brian Warner), "horrifically abused me for years," an allegation he denied as “horrible distortions of reality.”

Wood's accusations, which were followed by similar allegations from other women, led to Manson being dropped by his recording label and by his agent.

On Feb. 19, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed it is investigating domestic violence allegations against Manson in incidents said to have occurred between 2009 and 2011. 

It wasn't the first time Wood has spoken out about allegations of misconduct. In 2016, she posted a letter on Twitter, claiming she had been raped in the distant past by two different people but did not name them. 

In 2018, she talked about her experiences with rape and torture during testimony before a House committee in support of a nationwide bill of rights for sexual assault survivors, but she did not name names.

In December, British musician FKA twigs sued her ex-boyfriend, troubled movie star Shia LaBeouf, for repeated abuse and physical, emotional and mental assaults he allegedly inflicted in their nearly yearlong relationship.

Her accusations prompted similar allegations from other women in LaBeouf's life. He has denied the accusations in the lawsuit. 

On Feb. 10, Charisma Carpenter, star of WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," posted a lengthy statement on Twitter accusing "Buffy" creator and "Avengers" director Joss Whedon of emotional abuse and abuse of power on the set. Her accusation followed "Justice League" actor Ray Fisher's similar allegations about Whedon in July 2020. Whedon has declined to comment to USA TODAY. 

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