Harvey Weinstein is one of the most infamous men to be accused of sexual assault, and many of the women who have come forward about their traumatic encounters with Weinstein are credited with starting the #MeToo movement.
The media is continually covering the case, and many are waiting to hear the final verdict of all of his charges. With 100 women coming forward about Weinstein assaulting or harassing them, most would not expect any woman to defend Weinstein’s actions in a civil conversation, let alone in court.
But Donna Rotunno is that exception.
Earlier this month, Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, sat down with Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, to talk about her experience defending Weinstein and what she thinks of the #MeToo movement.
According to the podcast, Rotunno is known for defending men accused of sexual misconduct. Her comments throughout her interview with The Daily and other statements she made about women coming forward about sexual assault are misleading and distract people from the true meaning of the #MeToo movement.
It is important to support due process and the court system, but our society should not stop supporting and championing anyone who comes forward with their experience. We should no longer protect men and people in power who commit these crimes.
Rotunno spoke a bit about her opinion of the #MeToo movement in the podcast and explained that she believes it takes away people’s right to due process. However, the movement was started to create a safe space for women to come forward about their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment. The purpose of the movement is not to take away from the court process but to draw attention to how common these crimes truly are for women everywhere.
“I’m not putting all of the responsibility on the woman,” Rotunno said in The Daily podcast interview. “I’m placing responsibility on the woman. Women cannot be equal if women don’t start taking on equal risk. Women want men to take on all the risk.”
However, the problem of assault and harassment should be solved by putting the blame on the criminals, not the victims. Rotunno is completely missing the point. Women shouldn’t have to constantly be on alert, people should just simply not assault other people.
Sexual assault is not going to stop if we keep blaming the victims or putting any responsibility on them.
In the podcast, Rotunno said she believes the culture today does not make it difficult for any woman to come forward. She said they have nothing to lose, therefore nothing stops women from making claims that they were assaulted or raped.
However, reports show that rape is the most under-reported crime and false reporting is between 2% and 10%.
A reason that so many rapes go unreported could be because of the harsh aftermath many women face in the criminal justice system or in their personal lives following their assault. Even in the Weinstein trial, one of the accusers had a panic attack after Rotunno grilled her with questions.
Rotunno is trying to downplay the severity of sexual assault cases and ignore the fact that the only people responsible for sexual assault and harassment are the perpetrators. Women should not have to take any blame or responsibility for being assaulted or harassed by strangers or people they know.
At the end of the interview, Twohey asked Rotunno if she has ever been sexually assaulted. Rotunno answers with “No, because I would never put myself in that position.”
That final comment can sum up where Rotunno stands on the issue of sexual assault and harassment. She does not understand the fundamental idea that sexual assault is only caused and carried out by those who commit the crime.
We need movements like #MeToo to help more women come forward with their stories to create a society where rape and sexual assault are not so common.
Sophia Messineo is a sophomore advertising and public relations major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org