Aug 26, 2019

#MeToo vs. statutes of limitations

 Harvey Weinstein (C). Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein (C). Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

There's a grand jury indictment against Harvey Weinstein, pushing his trial back to 2020 but allowing one of his alleged victims to testify against him.

Why it matters: The new indictment gets around statute of limitations issues pertaining to Annabella Sciorra's testimony, the New York Times reports.

  • The indictment will "let Ms. Sciorra tell her story on the witness stand under the legal theory that her testimony will support charges of predatory sexual assault, even though her alleged encounter with the producer happened so long ago to be charged separately as rape."
  • In "order to prove predatory sexual assault, prosecutors must present evidence that Weinstein committed felony sexual assault against at least two individuals," BuzzFeed News reported.
  • Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains his innocence.

The big picture: Some of the most prominent #MeToo cases involve allegations that are past individual statutes of limitations, even though activists are working to change that status quo.

  • Some history: "When laws around domestic violence and sexual harassment emerged in the 1970s and ’80s, they were meant to encompass an understanding of the broader dynamics of control and entitlement that informed insidious behaviors," the Times reported last year.
  • "But too often these laws were rendered in a way that limited their ability to impose consequences for the wide range of damages inflicted by patterns of manipulation and abuse."

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