A black and white photograph of Harvey Weinstein headlines a blog about Harvey Weinstein's convictions (Photograph Credit: Thomas Hawk [Some Rights Reserved])
February 28, 2020

Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Assault and Rape Conviction, Explained

On February 24, 2020, a New York jury handed down a verdict that meant the sex predator movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree of one victim and criminal sexual assault in the first degree of another victim. Both women testified to their abuse during trial. Harvey Weinstein’s conviction is a significant victory for survivors of sexual assault who rarely find justice through the criminal system. 

Prosecutors are notoriously hesitant to prosecute sexual assault crimes which oftentimes lack physical evidence beyond the victim’s testimony. And, as we know, victims face many obstacles in coming forward which means considerable time can pass before they are in a position to do so. 

Although Weinstein was acquitted of the more serious crimes of predatory sexual assault and rape in the first degree, the conviction that was handed down should not be seen as only a partial victory. 

We commend the prosecutors for taking a swing at those charges which allows for the survivors’ stories to be told. It is important to realize that just by bringing the charges a measure of justice is done by believing the women. Furthermore, these crimes require very specific elements to be proven making them extremely difficult to prosecute. 

For example, in New York (where this first case against Harvey Weinstein was tried), predatory sexual assault requires first that you establish the perpetrator committed rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, or course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree and then you must also prove that during the commission of the crime the perpetrator caused serious physical injury (which has its own legal definition) to the victim; or used or threatened to use a weapon; or has committed one of these crimes in the past or was previously convicted of related felony crimes. Despite the acquittal on this charge, his conviction of the others confirm that he is indeed a sexual predator and that women’s voices are finally being heard.

Lastly, don’t forget that Weinstein is still set to face rape charges in Los Angeles. He has not made his plea in that case and perhaps the guilty verdict here will lead to a guilty plea in L.A.

Dani Pinter, Esq.

Dani Pinter, NCOSE Law Center Legal Counsel

Senior Legal Counsel for the NCOSE Law Center

Dani Pinter, Esq. serves as Legal Counsel for NCOSE and its Law Center. In this role, she drafts and consults on state legislation to help unravel the complex web of sexual exploitation. Dani also serves as a voice for human dignity in precedent-setting legal cases by authoring legal briefs and providing research and advice to attorneys and will launch litigation on behalf of victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Dani speaks regularly on a variety of exploitation topics, with a special focus protecting youth in a digital age and on legal solutions to curb the demand for prostituted and sex trafficked individuals.

Dani Pinter originally joined the NCOSE Law Center at its inception in August of 2015. Dani was instrumental in reinvigorating the law center and traveled the country building relationships and raising awareness. Notably, she drafted the first piece of legislation recognizing the public health impacts of  pornography. This innovative piece of legislation has since been adopted in more than a dozen states. Dani also authored a key legal brief in a case involving a child predator who claimed a constitutional right to find children online and talk to them about sex in an arousing and exploitive manner. Her legal brief helped convince the Georgia Supreme Court to rule against the child predator and shut down the agenda of pro-child exploitation forces to go state by state trying to toss out such laws. 

In 2016. Dani moved back to her home state of Florida to start a family and there joined the State of Florida’s Department of Children and Families as a Senior Attorney in Children’s Legal Services. In that role, Dani litigated cases involving child abuse, abandonment, and neglect. She worked tirelessly to serve the children and families in need in her home state. During this time, Dani saw first-hand the devastation that sexual abuse inflicts on children and families and the cycle of abuse and trauma it creates. 

Throughout her time with Children’s Legal Services, Dani brought the knowledge she gained from NCOSE to every one of her cases. She could not help but note the policy changes and education that were needed in this field. So, when an opportunity to work with NCOSE again arose – Dani seized it without hesitation. Dani rejoined the NCOSE law center in 2019 as Legal Counsel splitting her time between DC and Florida. 

Dani has always had a passion for human rights issues especially those affecting women and children. This passion is what led her to Regent University School of Law. Upon acceptance, Dani received the Wilberforce Award, a full academic scholarship for those with human rights interests. While at Regent, Dani was in the Honors Program, a member of the Moot Court Board, the Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy, and the Student Bar Association. During her studies Dani interned with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Prior to law school Dani worked as a government relations intern for multiple DC policy organizations and graduated from the University of Central Florida with dual degrees in Psychology and Marketing.

Dani now resides with her husband and two children in Florida.

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