Tarale Wulff, one of convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein’s accusers who testified at his trial and is barred from speaking in court at his sentencing, posted an open letter online Tuesday asking the judge to hold Weinstein accountable by “imposing a prison sentence that reflects what he has done to us.”
Wulff said in her letter posted on Medium that no matter what sentence Judge James Burke imposes on Wednesday, “it will never undo what has happened. Those events will continue to haunt me and the other survivors for the rest of our lives.
“I hope that the sentence sends a clear message that times have changed and that more women need to speak out for themselves and that men and women need to speak out for others,” she added. “We need to show self-love and empathy to overcome centuries of illogical thinking that has normalized the sexual mistreatment of women.”
Since his conviction, Weinstein has been held pending sentencing at either Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan (where he had a procedure to remove a heart blockage) or in the infirmary unit at the city’s main jail complex on Rikers Island.
His sentence could range from five years to as many as 25 years in prison. In a pre-sentencing letter to the judge filed late Monday, Weinstein’s lawyers sought the mimimum sentence, arguing that Weinstein’s age, health and lack of a criminal history makes him a candidate for a lower sentence under sentencing guidelines.
In prosecutors’ pre-sentencing letter last week, they sought a lengthy sentence to reflect a “lifetime of abuse,” documented in three dozen anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct or workplace abuse, dating as far back as 1978, that they compiled against Weinstein over the past two years.
Wulff, 43, was a “Molineux witness” at Weinstein’s trial on five sex crimes. The ex-movie mogul was convicted Feb. 24 of two crimes: third-degree rape and first-degree sexual assault involving two women. He was acquitted on three other more serious sex crimes.
The Molineux witnesses’ allegations against Weinstein were not charged because they’re either too old or out of jurisdiction, but were offered by prosecutors to help them prove that Weinstein had a pattern of “prior bad acts.”
New York law prohibits such witnesses from delivering “victim impact statements” at sentencing. Instead, the two women Weinstein was convicted of assaulting, Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and Jessica Mann, are expected to deliver statements in court.
So Wulff offered her views in her letter because she “believes it is important that her voice be heard,” according to her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor.
Wulff testified at the trial that Weinstein raped her sometime between May and July of 2005 at his downtown apartment in New York, where she went for what she thought was a meeting about a possible role in one of his movies.
“Harvey Weinstein stole a part of my self-worth, treating me like I was nothing and I became fearful and mistrustful, not only of others but of myself,” Wulff wrote. “These feelings were unbearable to live with and I pushed back the fear, shame and guilt to move on with my life. That is how I survive.”
She thought she was coping until the fall of 2017 when Weinstein was targeted in media exposes for decades of alleged sexual misconduct.
“The heartbreak of shame and guilt came flooding back,” Wulff wrote. “I knew what those women felt and I wanted to help them. I had to. My single intention was to help survivors hold Weinstein accountable for his disgusting crimes.”
She wrote that testifying was “surreal.” She was nervous and intimidated, she wrote, and worried she wouldn’t remember everything under the pressure of intense questioning.
“But in my heart I knew I had my truth and no matter what anyone said to me, I would go home with my truth,” she wrote.
On cross-examination, Wulff was challenged by defense lawyers over inconsistencies in her testimony. Initially she said the rape happened in 2004, but changed the year after speaking to a friend. She paused frequently and stammered, saying she was unsure about times and dates, about what she told prosecutors and when, about whether she remembered telling Weinstein she didn’t want to have sex, about whether her “fragmented” memories were improved by more than 50 sessions with a specialist psychologist.
It is not clear whether the jury believed the Molineux witnesses or had some doubts; their verdict did not say one way or the other and jurors who have spoken out since have not explicitly said.
She wrote that she is confident Burke will “do what is right and not give Weinstein any special treatment.”
“This is hopefully just the beginning. The conversation must continue.”
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