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Harvey Weinstein’s Prosecution Takes a Page from the Bill Cosby Playbook

January 7, 2020, 12:53 PM UTC
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren, men benefit from mentoring relationships with women, and the Harvey Weinstein trial recalls another infamous case of the #MeToo era. Have a lovely Tuesday. 

EVERYONE'S TALKING

- A page from the Cosby playbook. Harvey Weinstein appeared in a Manhattan courthouse on Monday to finally stand trial for sexual assault charges two years after accusations against him ignited the #MeToo movement. Day 1 of the long-awaited public airing of the once-powerful film producer’s alleged misconduct dealt a blow to his defense. The judge ruled Weinstein’s lawyers can’t call as a witness a detective who is accused of keeping key evidence from prosecutors—a tactic that sought to undermine the integrity of the New York Police Department investigation of the one-time movie mogul. 

Previews of the trial focused on such legal mechanics that have restricted the scope of the trial. More than 80 women have publicly accused Weinstein of misconduct, yet prosecutors in New York have charged him with the rape and sexual assault of only two women, former assistant Mimi Haleyi and an unnamed woman who says Weinstein raped her in 2013. (Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and argues the encounters were consensual. He also faced new sex crime charges in L.A. on Monday.)

It’s important to understand that the trial’s narrowness doesn’t mean it can’t have a profound outcome. In fact, its limited focus mirrors the most recent case against Bill Cosby, the one decided in 2018 and upheld last year that ultimately put the disgraced television superstar behind bars. 

In Cosby’s instance, more than 50 women had come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, but his trial technically hinged on the account of just one, Andrea Constand, who said the entertainer drugged and assaulted her years ago. Still, five women shared their experiences on the stand, bolstering the case that Cosby had a “unique sexual-assault playbook,” as a Pennsylvania appellate court put it in upholding his conviction

Prosecutors in the Weinstein case are expected to mimic that strategy by calling several women who can speak to the former producer’s alleged pattern of predatory behavior. The most serious charge Weinstein faces is predatory sexual assault, which accuses him of sex crimes with more than one person. It carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The parallels between the Cosby case and Weinstein's were certainly not lost on New York Magazine, which yesterday published photographs of some of Weinstein’s accusers. The art recalls the magazine’s powerful cover featuring Cosby’s many accusers, only this time the women stand side-by-side, arms linked, forming a human chain. 

The Cosby case was considered a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement. It was seen as an indication that societal attitudes had shifted—that jurors would take women’s accusations seriously and that justice would prevail. Now as Weinstein’s trial begins, everything that Cosby’s conviction came to represent is also at stake.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Endorsement report. After dropping out of the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Julián Castro endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president. Most other candidates who have dropped out, including Sen. Kamala Harris, haven't yet offered endorsements. (Judge Judy, meanwhile, endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.) Washington Post 

- Men's mentoring. Executive coach Rania H. Anderson argues that men gain just as much from mentorship of or by women as women do from mentor relationships with men: take Marguerite Zabar Mariscal, CEO of chef David Chang’s Momofuku Group, or Richard McPhail, successor to CEO Carol B. Tomé at Home Depot. Amid the ongoing conversation about men's supposed reluctance to mentor women after #MeToo, it's an interesting read. Harvard Business Review 

- Four days for Finland. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin proposed making standard across Finland a four-day, six-hour-a-day workweek. The Broadsheet has previously covered the benefits of modified workweeks for working women and the equitable distribution of domestic labor. Quartz

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sam's Club SVP and chief people officer Becky Schmitt will join Cognizant as EVP and chief people officer. Imperva named Infor's Pam Murphy CEO. Alyssa Mastromonaco, previous White House deputy chief of staff under President Obama, and Aisha Moodie-Mills, former president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, join The Wing as senior political strategists leading its "2020 political programming and efforts." 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Fundraising force. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has raked in $76 million since he started in the 2020 presidential race—more than any Democrat except Sen. Bernie Sanders. The woman behind Buttigieg's fundraising success is Swati Mylavarapu, a Silicon Valley vet of Google and Kleiner Perkins. Taking a cue from her background, she calls campaign fundraisers "investors" instead of "bundlers." Wall Street Journal

- -30-. Sue Shellenbarger has written the Wall Street Journal's Work and Family column since 1991—when she quit her own full-time job because of a lack of affordable childcare and her family's needs. On the eve of her retirement, she reflects on what's changed for working women in the nearly three decades since. From the executive profiled in 1996 who says she had to pretend to be going to meeting because she could "never say I wanted to see my child’s first-grade play," to the couples more equitably splitting domestic duties today. Wall Street Journal

- Another gender gap. One gender gap that's closing? Who's arrested for violent crimes. While men still overwhelmingly dominate arrests (this story doesn't get into the racial breakdown of statistics), the number of female arrests increased by 50% from 2015 to 2016 in the U.K. A private investigator offers this explanation for the uptick: women are now "the breadwinners in 40% of all households. If these women can’t pay the bills, some will resort to committing crimes." Guardian

ON MY RADAR

The Goop Lab trailer: It’s dangerous, it’s unregulated, and it’s Gwyneth Paltrow Vulture

Nike plans to leverage the popularity of Air Max sneakers to attract women customers in 2020 Glossy

Gen X women get less sleep than any other generation. What's keeping them up? Time

QUOTE

"In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are."

-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a Cut profile