A New York judge has ruled that the sexual assault case against producer and entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein will move forward.
Weinstein's defence had filed a motion to have the charges, which include first and third-degree rape and predatory sexual assault, dismissed, alleging that misconduct on behalf of police and prosecutors had "tainted the case." In a brief conversation at the bench with lawyers on both sides, Judge James Burke denied the motion to dismiss the indictment and set the next pre-trial hearing for March 7.
Several prominent entertainment industry figures filled the packed courtroom including Gloria Allred, Marisa Tomei, Amber Tamblyn, and Time Up's CEO, Lisa Borders.
In a press conference on the courthouse steps, Weinstein's lead attorney Ben Brafman, expressed disappointment with the judge's decision but called it a "technical ruling." He told reporters his client's case was "not about the #MeToo movement."
Weinstein's name has become synonymous with the movement after investigations last year by the New York Times and The New Yorker alleged decades of sexual harassment and assault by the producer. Thousands, including actress Alyssa Milano, then came forward on Twitter using the #MeToo hashtag to share their stories of abuse and offer support to other survivors. Many were breaking their silence for the first time.
Since then, a number of other prominent men in the media industry, including Matt Lauer, Les Moonves, and Kevin Spacey have faced their own accusations of assault and harassment. And the reckoning has spread outside of entertainment — physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the latest to face allegations. Perhaps more importantly, the #MeToo movement has brought about a quantifiable change towards gender parity. Of the (more than) 200 men who have been ousted from positions of power, the New York Times reports that nearly half their replacements are women.
However, Weinstein's case is the only one so far to go to criminal court and many are closely watching how the proceedings play out. While some have speculated that the case against Weinstein is flawed, many saw today's ruling as a victory.
Borders told reporters she was “relieved that Harvey Weinstein failed” in his efforts to have the charges dismissed.
“We saw the first steps toward justice,” she said. “We look forward to seeing you in March.”