This Day In History: October 5

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On October 5, 2017, The New York Times publishes a detailed investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The bombshell report led to Weinstein’s eventual arrest and conviction on charges of rape and other sexual misconduct. It has since become recognized as one of the defining early moments of the #MeToo movement.

Within certain circles, Weinstein’s predatory behavior had been widely known for some time. Multiple reporters had been scrambling to break the story—reporter Ronan Farrow had brought the story to NBC News in 2016 but was turned away, eventually publishing his expose in The New Yorker five days after the Times’ ran its investigation. The list of Weinstein’s accusers eventually grew to several dozen women, ranging from well-known actresses like Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow to women who had worked for as little as one day at Miramax or the Weinstein Company.

Weinstein was immediately fired from his company and expelled from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. In February 2020, he was found guilty of felony assault and sentenced to 23 years in prison. The allegations set off a chain reaction, as more women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against important figures throughout the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, politics, the sports world and elsewhere. 

In addition to the public shaming of a number of high-powered media figures and celebrities, the #MeToo Movement, as it came to be known (The Me Too campaign was actually first begun in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke; it gained traction on social media following the Weinstein allegations), forced many Americans to examine the power dynamics and institutional sexism that allowed powerful men in virtually every field to commit and cover up all manner of sexual misconduct.

Some of the men who faced #MeToo allegations have either apologized and attempted to move on with their careers or simply denied the charges and kept their positions of power. Notably, over 20 women accused then-President Donald Trump of misconduct ranging from verbal harassment to rape. Meanwhile, as new allegations continue to arise in workplaces across the world, it's clear that the Weinstein scandal was a key step in the struggle to expose and stamp out sexual misconduct.