What Impact Will the Harvey Weinstein Case Have on Future Cases?

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Harvey Weinstein has become a household name after multiple investigative articles exposed his alleged his abuse of power over women that he worked with. 

Thanks to reporting from New Yorker's Ronan Farrow and the work from New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, allegations of Weinstein's misconduct have become public knowledge. 

And Weinstein has now been found guilty of committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree involving one woman and rape in the third degree of another woman. However, he still faces charges in Los Angeles. 

What kind of impact has the Weinstein case had? Rebecca Rose Woodland, a litigator and legal analyst, joined TheStreet to discuss the fallout of the Weinstein case and discuss another case that she's involved with--the case against Dr. Robert Hadden, a former Columbia University OBGYN, who has been accused by over 78 women--including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, of assault. 

Here's a transcript of the interview:

Katherine Ross:

The rise and fall of American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, is arguably one of the most watched legal proceedings of the decade. The Hollywood heavyweight is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree involving one woman and rape in the third degree of another woman. Weinstein pled not guilty to all charges. He still faces standing charges in California. The Manhattan trial played out a lot like a movie with far reaching fallout from Hollywood to Wall Street. Joining us now is Rebecca Rose Woodland, a high profile litigator and legal analyst. Rebecca, thank you for joining us. I want to get everyone up to speed. Can you break down the Weinstein case for us?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

Sure. What we're looking at here, right now, is a man that was found guilty of two charges as you already listed. He was faced with four charges. This is just New York state. The District Attorney in New York charged him with crimes that were in the statute of limitation. What happened during the trial was that the prosecutors put witnesses on to support those charges and arguably, allegedly those witnesses had also experienced sexual crimes with Mr. Weinstein, but they were outside the scope of the statute of limitations. We saw various women coming in, testifying for the prosecution being cross examined by Weinstein's defense team. Eventually the jury deliberated for five days and came to the conclusion finding him guilty on two counts.

What we're going to see now is on March 11th a sentencing hearing. He'll go back to the Manhattan Supreme Court where he was found guilty and the judge therein will listen to various aspects of his life. He has the opportunity to put on some witnesses to support his credibility and his responsibility as a citizen. The defense team can do that for Harvey Weinstein. The prosecution can also put on some witnesses.

What the prosecution's intent there is to have him serve the entire sentence. He's facing up to 29 years on the two counts together, if we put both of those possibilities, the maximum sentences. What the defense will look at is him serving no time. The defense will try to talk around all of that. But there are minimums that are required, so it looks like Harvey Weinstein will be sentenced to some form of incarceration.

Katherine Ross:

New York District Attorney, Cy Vance, said, and I'm quoting, that, "The Weinstein case would push our justice system into the 21st century." How would that happen?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

I think that's interesting that Cy Vance said that, and I'm hopeful when I hear is that the District Attorney in New York wants to push our justice system into, I guess he means a new status. What I'm hopeful is that victims will be heard, that the New York District Attorney will take every victim, every female victim's case seriously, but every victim of sexual assault, I'm not only defining it, it's female. Take it seriously, investigate it through, and not in any way be focused on the defendant. What the defendant may do, what his position in society is. Let's first look at the facts and let's really pursue justice no matter who the defendant is and no matter who the victim is.

I think that is hopeful to me that Cy Vance and the Manhattan District Attorney's office is going to take a fresh look at some of these cases that I think have been overlooked.

Katherine Ross:

Do you think that this case will have a ripple effect onto other cases? And if so, how?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

That's such a good question. I do think that this case will have a ripple effect. I think that not only in this particular city of New York, in the state of New York, I think across the country and I hope across the world what will happen is that victims will be more confident coming forward because they'll feel that the prosecution, wherever they live, will take them seriously.

What happens then is, which happens often with lawsuits, is that there is a deterrent effect. I'm hoping that it not only puts the bad guys behind bars, but it deters people. It changes conduct. It makes people aware that this sort of conduct won't be tolerated anywhere across America and across the world because what this man did was victimized women, the jury found that to be the case. There are many other victims of other sexual crimes, women, men, they, it doesn't matter who. We want to discourage that from happening across the world and moving to a place of more peaceful society where people respect each other.

Katherine Ross:

Many say that this case has been a watershed moment for the Me Too movement. Do you agree with that?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

I think that it's hopeful. I think that any person found guilty of a sex crime is a moment. I think that what we're hoping to find is that there will be no more crimes. But those who have committed the crimes, let's put them to justice and let's have people be accountable for their irresponsible and, what we now see is, illegal behavior.

Katherine Ross:

Why do you think that it took so long for the lid to be blown off of this case?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

There are so many theories with this. I've read a lot, I would like to think that it was just bad timing earlier, because I don't represent the victim so I'm not sure who came forward when. I have second hand information that seems to be various people came forward at various times. What I'm hoping moving forward is that initially when a victim comes forward to the prosecution, their claims are taken seriously from the beginning.

Katherine Ross:

I understand that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office is reportedly investigating new abuse allegations against former Columbia University gynecologist, Robert Hadden. Hadden has previously pleaded guilty to felony criminal sexual act and misdemeanor forceful touching. Because of that plea, he actually lost his medical license but didn't serve jail time. Before we go any further, I actually want to give a full disclosure. Your client, Emilia Heckman, is also the wife of Maven founder and CEO, James Heckman. Maven is the parent company of TheStreet and operates Sports Illustrated.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

Yes, and I do represent Emilia in a case against Dr. Hadden civilly. What we're looking at now is the District Attorney made a statement recently, same District Attorney that prosecuted Harvey Weinstein, that he is assigning some people who run his sex crimes unit to look into some allegations. What I'm hoping he's looking into are these allegations that happen not within the last couple of years. Dr. Hadden was removed from being a doctor, that was part of his plea agreement in 2016. That plea agreement only covered a very small amount of the victims. 

Katherine Ross:

As of March 2, 2020 the number of women accusing Hadden of sexual assault stands at 78, according to reports. At the time of this reporting, no additional charges have been filed. So tell me, how is this case similar to Harvey Weinstein's? 

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

With respect to the similarities, we find that with Harvey, he's now been found guilty. In Dr. Hadden's case, what we can say so far is that he took a plea agreement and pled guilty to sexual misconduct. We have sexual misconduct against women by men who are in positions of power with these women. With Dr. Hadden, you might want to say it's a disturbing position of power because he was their OB-GYN. The instance I am aware of were patients of Dr. Hadden, so these were women who went to see a medical doctor and then were sexually abused in one form or another. The legal definitions of all of that is what the District Attorney will come forward after this investigation, I hope. I'm very confident that after hearing all these victims, the District Attorney will reopen a case against Dr. Hadden and will seek justice for these victims.

Katherine Ross:

With cases like Weinstein and Hadden, what are the potential financial ramifications for both the accused and also the institutions that represent them?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

That's a really good question as well. With respect to Dr. Hadden, Columbia University is also in a civil lawsuit as a defendant. There are requests that the District Attorney look into some of the conduct from Columbia University and different people within that institution more seriously, possibly for criminal charges. What we've seen in the past is USC, Penn State, finding themselves in situations where not only are there civil lawsuits, but there's criminal prosecution as a result of sexual abuse and sexual mistreatment of different, various types of victims in all of those cases. What you see is the possibility of Colombia here now facing some sort of retribution therein.

Katherine Ross:

Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I'm really looking forward to talking to you a lot more about the law, Wall Street, and of course, big business.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:

Thank you very much. I'm happy to come on and I'm happy to see you again soon.