NEW YORK — Watching the stunning images of Harvey Weinstein walking into a courthouse Friday in handcuffs, a detective on each arm, Louisette Geiss still felt a shiver of fear in reaction to the man who, she says, once cornered her and tried to physically force her to watch him masturbate.
Yes, Weinstein had certainly fallen hard and fast. And yet, Geiss said, even in handcuffs, he still somehow looked powerful and defiant — not humbled, and certainly not remorseful.
“He’s not taking responsibility for a single one of these victims,” she said in an interview. “He looks like he’s just going through the machinery to get to the next step. I’m still scared, even talking to you about Harvey.”
To be sure, there was plenty of satisfaction and relief among the scores of Weinstein accusers as the disgraced mogul, who has consistently denied allegations of nonconsensual sex, was arraigned sex charges involving two women, including one rape count. But emotions were mixed. Actress Rose McGowan tweeted: “We got you, Harvey Weinstein.” But she also expressed uncertainty about how the case would play out in what she called an “elusive” justice system.
And others, like Geiss, who is a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Weinstein, cautioned there was a long way to go before ultimate vindication. “This is a win, but not THE win,” she said. “The win would be him behind bars, not living on an estate somewhere.”
Another accuser, actress Caitlin Dulany, felt more optimistic. “Today was a great day for all of us,” she said, referring to what she called a sisterhood of accusers. “The fact that our voices have made a difference means so much to me and to all of us who spoke out in the MeToo movement.”
Dulany, who has alleged a 1996 encounter with Weinstein in which he picked her up at her apartment before a dinner and stripped naked, before she managed to kick him out, said the day had meaning not only to those who have publicly accused Weinstein, but to other victims who haven’t felt able to come forward.
“We represent a lot of women who haven’t spoken out yet as well,” she said. “It’s a beautiful group of women. We’re there for each other.” The 54-year-old actress also said she hoped that younger women will see Weinstein being held accountable, and have faith that they, too, would be believed, should they find themselves in a similar scenario.
On Twitter, some were more outspoken than others.
“Today Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell,” wrote accuser Asia Argento. Her friend, chef Anthony Bourdain, wrote: “What’s on the menu for #Weinstein,” with an image of a prison menu. Actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused Weinstein of rape, tweeted, “Are you kidding me?” in reaction to Weinstein lawyer Benjamin Brafman’s statement that “the casting couch in Hollywood was not invented by Harvey Weinstein.” Actress Mira Sorvino saluted “all my sisters today who stood up against a monster.”
A number of women spoke proudly of their conviction that the Weinstein case, and the #MeToo reckoning that it sparked, would have a profound and permanent impact on how society treats powerful abusers — and those who come forward to accuse them.
“We can’t go backward,” McGowan said in an interview. “The genie can’t go back in the bottle. This is the first time since written history that women are being believed — begrudgingly, but still.”
Geiss, despite expressing fears that Weinstein might be able to escape justice, was also full of hope for a future in which women would be believed. “The tide is rising, and it’s full of women!” she said.
The Los Angeles-based actress and screenwriter found herself recalling one of Weinstein’s earliest responses to the growing accusations against him, shortly before The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine articles were published, when he told Variety through a spokesman: “The story sounds so good I want to buy the movie rights.”
It was that comment, she said, that ultimately spurred her to go public with her own accusation.
“Well,” Geiss said on Friday, “I hope he enjoys that movie from jail!”