(NEW YORK) — Miriam “Mimi” Haley, who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, said she felt “relief” at the outcome of the trial, which found the disgraced movie mogul guilty of criminal sexual assault and rape in the third degree.
Haley (formerly Haleyi, but she said on the stand she changed her last name), a former production assistant who had worked on Weinstein productions, testified in a New York court that he assaulted her at his apartment in 2006, and the jury found that Weinstein forced a sex act on Haley.
Haley appeared on “Good Morning America” with her attorney, Gloria Allred, Tuesday, discussing what it was like to hear that Weinstein received the two guilty verdicts.
“I just sat down and I started crying,” Haley told “GMA,” noting she was in a coffee shop when she learned the news. “It was just a huge sense of relief, just a relief that the jury got it, that they believed me and that I was heard. … I was just grateful that they got it.”
Weinstein, 67, was found not guilty of the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and of rape in the first degree. The charge of rape in the third degree he was found guilty of came from Jessica Mann and came with sentencing guidelines of probation up to four years.
Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Haley had taken the stand during the trial and was cross-examined.
“It was terrifying, but after a lot of thought, I just felt that it was the right thing to do and something that I wanted to follow through with, so that’s why I did it,” she said.
I also thank all the women that came forward before me that created this environment where I felt safe to speak out.
Haley told “The View” the process has been “really draining and, frankly, terrifying,” especially as “it’s been dragging on.”
“I also thank all the women that came forward before me that created this environment where I felt safe to speak out,” she said.
The outcome in the Weinstein case is seen as a landmark moment for other accusers and #MeToo — a movement against sexual harassment and assault that gained viral attention after allegations against Weinstein were first reported in October 2017 by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
“It gives me hope that we’re making progress [with] this verdict,” Haley said. “I just feel like we’re being educated about the reality of sexual assault and sexual assault victims.”
This education includes, she said, the fact that many sexual assault victims “do know their attacker” and “have some sort of relation to that person.”
“That brings with it a whole other layer of emotional confusion that you need to process through,” she said, adding, “I think we are getting rid of a lot of outdated ideas about these kind of assaults.”
While Haley noted the progress the #MeToo movement has made has been “really amazing,” she said, “I don’t think that we should be telling people, for example like Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, ‘Don’t put yourself in that position.'”
Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno said in an interview with The New York Times earlier this month that she has never been a victim of sexual assault, “because I would never put myself in that position.”
“I think we should be focusing on, like, ‘don’t rape people,'” Haley said. “If they come to your house, don’t rape them. If they come to your hotel, don’t rape them.”
She said the focus needs to shift “from constantly victim-blaming” to “the actual person who committed the crime, taking responsibility for their choices.”
“The story of Harvey Weinstein is in so many respects the story of a long and unsuccessful fight for any kind of accountability for someone so powerful,” Ronan Farrow, one of the journalists who reported on the extensive allegations against Weinstein, told “GMA” Tuesday.
“A lot of the stories have been not just about the allegations but about the tactics used to dodge accountability including in the criminal justice system,” he continued.
Weinstein faces up to 29 years behind bars. He is expected to be sentenced next month.
Haley’s attorney, Allred, praised her client on “GMA” Tuesday morning, calling her “brave” and “courageous.”
“Mimi had to face very intense cross-examination on the stand and she had to take the oath and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God, and then hours and hours of cross-examination,” Allred said, adding that she was also proud of her clients Lauren Marie Young and Annabella Sciorra, who both also testified at the trial.
Sciorra accused Weinstein of raping her in the 1990s as part of prosecutor’s attempt to prove a pattern of predation. He was ultimately found not guilty of two charges of predatory sexual assault.
“It’s a very high burden of proof, guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and she told her truth,” Allred said of Sciorra. “She stood in her truth. She refused to be intimidated and she was very authentic and many people said she was an exceptional witness in this courtroom so she did what she had to do and that’s what’s important.”
Allred went on, “This is about the empowerment of women, about women refusing to stand silent when they have been the victims of gender violence and he could face a sentence because of Mimi’s courage of 10 to 25 years in prison and then he has to face the L.A. charges so he may never come out of prison.”
Haley said she will take the opportunity to speak at Weinstein’s sentencing.
“I do intend to do that,” she said. “I’ll figure out what I’m going to say.”
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