Jennifer Siebel Newsom speaks out after Harvey Weinstein sentencing


Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), reflected on coming forward and giving testimony at Harvey Weinstein’s trial as “one of the hardest experiences of my life.” The Hollywood film mogul was sentenced to a further 16 years in prison on Thursday.

In a video posted to Instagram on Thursday, Siebel Newsom, 48, who accused Weinstein of rape and sexual assault, spoke about the pain she experienced after Weinstein’s “excruciatingly traumatic” alleged acts. She called out those in the entertainment industry allegedly complicit in his web of crime for perpetuating a culture of violence against women.

“For years, he walked away unfettered, while I spent years nursing my wounds,” she said.

Harvey Weinstein gets 16 more years in prison after Calif. rape trial

Her remarks follow what is effectively a life sentence for Weinstein, 70, who will have 16 years added to the 23-year sentence he is already serving in New York. In December, he was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and a third sexual misconduct charge in Los Angeles. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charges related to Siebel Newsom’s accusations, the Associated Press reported.

Weinstein’s demise began in 2017 when the New York Times and the New Yorker published investigations exposing years-long patterns of sexual abuse, sparking the popularization of the #MeToo movement and a global cultural reckoning.

Among dozens of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, Siebel Newsom became one of the more notable figures at his Los Angeles trial after she gave a particularly intense testimony last fall. In a graphic retelling, she detailed how Weinstein allegedly raped and sexually assaulted her in a hotel room after they met at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005.

Siebel Newsom came forward about her experience with Weinstein in a 2017 piece in HuffPost.

Thursday’s sentence was possible because “eight very courageous women stepped forward to confront this serial rapist,” Elizabeth Fegan, Siebel Newsom’s attorney at the trial, said after the sentencing. She said that these women understood they would face “brutal, misogynistic attacks” by Weinstein’s attorneys and praised them for using the testimony “to reclaim their voices.”

“It can’t erase the trauma they’ve endured, but it can serve as catalyst for change and provide hope to other survivors,” Fegan said.

During the trial and in the years leading up to it, Siebel Newsom was asked “to relive and lay bare the most horrific and humiliating experience of my entire life with complete strangers, the general public,” she said, her voice breaking “— and even my own family in ways so harmful, more harmful than you can imagine.”

That pain is compounded by the skepticism with which society regards survivors, she said. “When we ignore a woman’s cries of pain, when we tell her that she is to blame, that she asked for it … We deny her natural trauma response.”

The effects of such experiences have sweeping consequences. The “bad apples,” like Weinstein, “haven’t just ruined individual women’s lives,” Siebel Newsom said, “but stifle the female talent pool, dampening our creative and economic output.”

Siebel Newsom, who goes by California’s “first partner” as opposed to “first lady” to signal inclusivity, has become an advocate for gender equality. She is founder of the organization “The Representation Project,” which aims to “fight sexism through films, education, research, and activism.” She also directed a 2011 documentary about sexism in American media, “Miss Representation.”

The most important takeaway, Siebel Newsom said after Weinstein’s sentencing, “is that we all have a role to play in healing this culture where violence against women is the norm.”

Adela Suliman contributed to this report.

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