Not Everyone Rejoiced At Weinstein Verdict

The verdict in the Harvey Weinstein sex crimes case was described as both a disappointment and a victory. Some court watchers felt the shamed movie mogul should have been found guilty on all counts. Others said the decision ushered in a new era for survivors of sexual assault and tamped down, once and for all, defense attorney’s tactic of blaming the victim.
For Denise Conroy of Chicago none of those things was the point.

“Watching that trial,” she told me, “I just kept getting madder. Why didn’t [those women] report it when it happened? I thought, ‘What the hell took you so long?’”

Denise Conroy of Chicago, Illinois reacts to the Weinstein verdict, Feb 2020 from her home outside Chicago, Illinois. She is a survivor of violent gang rape. Photo courtesy Denise Conroy
Denise Conroy, Rape Survivor, Encourages Early Reporting

Denise was 23 years old in 1982 when she was dragged between two houses while walking home from her waitressing job early one morning. Her voice still cracks when she speaks about what happened when two Hispanic men put a gun in her mouth and took turns violently beating and raping her.
“They kicked me and stabbed me. I was sodomized. And that gun. I’ll never forget that gun. I said, ‘Oh, God, please stop and he said, God is not here.’” At the hospital doctors nicknamed her “the murder victim who refused to die.” The crime was reported to police immediately.
Watching coverage of the Weinstein trial triggered Denise’s panic memory. She admits to yelling at the screen as Court TV recounted the women’s testimony against Weinstein. Each witness conceded that they had delayed reporting Weinstein’s sexual attack. In the case of actress Annabella Sciorra it took more than two decades before she told authorities Weinstein had forcibly raped her.

Survivors of sexual assaults often tattoo themselves with this symbol as a way of identifying "safe" people to discuss the crime.
This Identifying Symbol is Often Tattooed on Survivors

Since the first revelations about Weinstein’s criminal behavior surfaced more than 90 women have come forward to say the once high-powered Hollywood mogul sexually victimized them as well. (Weinstein still faces similar sex assault charges in California.) It does beg the question how so many women stayed silent for so long about such an obvious predator. Their fear of being erased from Hollywood outweighed their desire to report Weinstein’s criminal behavior.

After the initial charges were filed in New York more than 90 women, many of them movie and TV stars, went public.
So Many Victims Said Nothing – He Was That Powerful

“What’s the price of your soul?” Denise asked as she recounted the agony of feeling like the guilty party, post-rape, when detectives first questions were about what she had been wearing and why she was out so late. She earnestly wonders why the Weinstein women weren’t able to stand up for themselves at the time of the attacks, as she did so many years ago. Just facing her attackers and pointing them out in court was a torture, she said. But it was also empowering.
“I don’t want to victim bash,” she said to me in an urgent tone. “But if it happened, then report it! We won’t get anywhere if people don’t report. I know it’s a double-edged sword,” she said. “I know how hard it is. It’s embarrassing and humiliating but it must be done.”
Today, Denise, now 60, volunteers as an advocate for women at risk. She worries that the star-studded #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have lost focus on the countless non-celebrity women who are victims of sexual assaults and domestic violence. And the media, she says, seems transfixed on only the super sensational sex crime cases like Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein and, yes, Harvey Weinstein.

Although Convicted He Still Faces More Charges In California

Denise is also troubled by two other things: those who seem to equate all sexual harassment and assault with the same outrage and gravitas. Complaining about a co-worker who makes suggestive comments or has wandering eyes is nowhere near as serious as a forcible sex act and she believes more public support needs to be aimed toward actual crime victims. And second, while the Weinstein verdict gave her some hope, “What about the co-conspirators at Miramax,” she asked referring to top executives at Weinstein’s now defunct company, including his brother, Bob. “They had Harvey sign contracts agreeing to stay away from women. They need to be held responsible. This didn’t happen in a vacuum.”
Denise sounded a bit bitter when she spoke about the pedestal on which Weinstein’s victims have been placed. “They’re glorifying these women who didn’t come forward for years. Calling them heroes. What about people like me, women who have lived through unspeakable things? It sort of feels like a slap in the face.”
While taking nothing away from the Weinstein victims, Denise has a point.



  1. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Reader Risa Caldwell writes:

    Dear Ms. Dimond,

    Your article in the Abq. Journal on 2-29-20 was well done and very
    The information you shared about a rape victim named Denise Conroy was
    quite emotional. I can only imagine that the trauma from that horrific
    day never goes away…you just learn how to get through it. My heart
    goes out to Ms. Conroy and the thousands of others who have endured such
    unimaginable violence.
    I’m writing to you to help get a message to Ms. Conroy. There is a
    renowned doctor in Chicago, that has successfully performed a minimally
    invasive procedure that helps victims with PTSD from traumatic events.
    His name is DR. EUGENE LIPOV. His main facility is in Chicago. The
    phone number is : 773-296-7937. He is board-certified in Anesthesiology
    and Pain Management, and has been practicing since 1990. He pioneered
    the adaption of a sympathetic block in the neck called STELLATE GANGLION
    BLOCK (SGB) for treating PTSD due to sexual trauma and many other
    reasons. He also heads a foundation called the Globalptsif( Foundation)
    that helps provide plane fare, lodging and procedural costs for many
    that might not be able to afford it. The websites are, or for more detailed information.
    I’ve been a nurse for 45+ yrs., (retired) so when I feel I can reach out
    to someone to help them, I feel compelled to do so.
    Of course, this procedure doesn’t work for everyone, but an 85% success
    rate is still amazing.
    Would you please forward this information to Ms. Conroy. Perhaps this
    procedure will give Ms. Conroy the “peace and joy” all of us desire in
    our lives.


    Risa Caldwell

  2. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Reader Helen Holmes writes:

    Normally I agree with you but sorry, think you are wrong about Weinstein though for something that was left out of the trial.

    About 4 years ago the NYPD Rape Squad wired a woman victim and asked her to try to go through at least some of it again. The cops nailed Weinstein but the very bizarre District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., refused too assign a prosecutor to the case.

    Same Vance several years earlier tried to have Jeffrey Epstein’s Sexual Preadator ranking lowered substantially. Fortunately the woman judge hearing the case was angry as she tossed it out.

    There has been an ongoing problem about sex complaints in that office. If you live in Manhattan and your lawyer sends a nice donation to the Vance re-election fund, magic seems to happen. He is up for re-election and so this case and all of the light put on it forced Vance to finally do the right thing.

    But women know what has been going and so have all the lawyers involved. I did research work for a writer about Jeffrey Epstein and it has made me see the fear in so many women. I am aware that accusing someone doesn’t mean guilty but in this one case boy am I glad that Harvey got what was coming to him. Epstein, interestingly, didn’t. But another sign of things being rotten and not in Denmark.

    • Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      Diane replies to Helen:

      I do not disagree that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance has been lax in bringing these high profile cases. His behavior has been shameful in my opinion. But that was not the angle of this column.
      I thought it was very important to tell the story of less-visible victims, those cases that never make the headlines because a celebrity is not attached. The story of Denise Conroy exemplified what non-visible victims have gone through, what they are thinking, and what they wish for future victims….Namely, if you are sexually assaulted report it immediately – thus taking away a defense attorney’s weapon that could be used later in a court trial.
      The lack of attention given these types of cases by District Attorneys nationwide is a topic for another column.

      • Denise on March 15, 2020 at 12:03 pm

        Hi Diane! I’ve known for too many years just how hard for most jurisdictions to prosecute these crimes. This has to change! I was an Investigator with the Medical Examiners office in multiple jurisdictions and there are so many cases that sit in the DAs office while I was on the end of the worst of this. When these victims have been murdered. This entire system is completely broken my friend and I refuse to give up!

  3. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Reader Doug Mueller writes:

    One thing is certain, rape is not about sex. Power is the drive. Control and intimidation drives these predators.
    With each unreported rape, the predators feel justified and crave more power. This also shows how well the perpetrator has conditioned the victim into believing he had power over their futures.
    This animal and others of his ilk got off easy. Many more victims might have been free of them had society been less prone to the re-victimizing those assaulted.

  4. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    Reader Fred T Adams writes:

    Not a human prerogative to deny anyone a soul. «Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. /// These ladies didn’t report the crime immediately because Weinstein’s influence would’ve driven them out of their chosen career, or so they believed.
    To call them whores is wrong, unless you’re willing to call each and every one of us a whore who once shaved the edge off our ideals to survive and prosper.
    Being raped is unimaginable for most of us men, who generally walk the street with confidence, no matter how ill placed. Women are smaller, weaker, and less ferocious than men and must learn different ways to survive than men. Avoidance of direct confrontation is one of those lessons: don’t pick a fight you can’t win. Treat these ladies in a Christian manner, and pray for the soul of Harvey Weinstein.

  5. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Reader Gale Gough writes:

    Weinstein has no soul.

  6. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Reader Robert Palmer writes:

    Look at that face in his picture. You can see the pedophile and rapist in him! I should have been on his jury.

  7. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Reader Chuckwillswidow@Chuckwillswido1 writes:

    And what might Conroy think about Robson/Safechuck waiting 25 yrs. to accuse (Michael) Jackson after defending him under oath?
    Otherwise I agree with your point people should not be baying, whooping it up about Weinstein conviction or anyone else

  8. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Reader Super Black Cat@MyBlackCat555 writes:

    There is a point, which brings another question: Why did Harvey Weinstein have a powerful PR machine out to destroy careers? Those women were powerless alone, but upon hearing other victim’s accounts, they empowered each other to speak out together with more courage & succeeded.

  9. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Reader RevengeTiddles writes:

    Wow, that hit pretty hard.

    How can we talk frankly about sexual assault or abuse without dismissing or devaluing the experiences of others?

    Thanks for providing a different perspective.

  10. Diane Dimond on March 2, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Reader We Believe You@webelieve_you writes:

    It seems like reporting abuse immediately or years later depends very much on the context of the abuse, the type of relationship with abuser (stranger vs colleague for ex) & who the abuser is (unknown vs respected family member or pilar of community). #Believevictims all victims

  11. Holly on March 4, 2020 at 10:10 am

    I 100% agree with your perspective in this column. While those were different times for women And I am empathetic for their experiences, it occurs to me that these women were more interested in propelling their careers than speaking up. It appears that now that they have had their fame, they are ready to speak up.

  12. Diane Dimond on March 5, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Reader Doug Mueller writes:

    One thing is certain, rape is not about sex. Power is the drive. Control and intimidation drives these predators.
    With each unreported rape, the predators feel justified and crave more power. This also shows how well the perpetrator has conditioned the victim into believing he had power over their futures.
    This animal and others of his ilk got off easy. Many more victims might have been free of them had society been less prone to the re-victimizing those assaulted.

  13. Diane Dimond on March 9, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Reader Dear Ms. Dimond:

    You seemed to answer your own question in your recent column about Harvey Weinstein and sexual assault. Even someone like Denise Conroy, who was beaten and violated so severely she was left half-dead, still had to report what she was wearing and why she was out alone late at night. Does this not infuriate you? What on earth does it take before law enforcement and society in general decide that yes, indeed, this woman was a victim of a horrific crime and we need to put the perpetrators on trial, not her? And you wonder why other women don’t report? It has taken what: 40? 50? 80? women to complain about Weinstein before someone finally decided there’s a pattern here. There’s not much victory.

    There are plenty of women who do report their assaults, but no one tests the rape kits. There are women whose rape kits are tested and a suspect identified, but there is no prosecution. So much for following the rules. For the women who are not raped but who endure assaults in public, in the workplace, wherever, the judgment is the same: This is probably your fault anyway. Go ahead and complain: we’ll fire you and/or make your work life hell. We’ll run you out of your profession. After all, it’s your word against his, and we all know women are liars anyway. If you accuse a man who has been demanding sex as a requirement of the job, you will ruin someone’s life. Yours, of course, never was worth as much. Women are not selling their souls; they’re making a cold, hard calculation that there is no point in reporting — and they are usually correct.

    You know, there are men who refuse to be alone with a woman to guard against the chance that some money-grubbing slut will falsely accuse them. But women who actually do have good reason to be wary are never allowed to demand that they need a chaperone, do they?

    No, we do not need to treat every unpleasant encounter as though it is as bad as what Denise Conroy had to endure, but it would be nice if we could at least be taken seriously. We may not in the end be believable, we should be able to feel that we deserve a hearing.

    Thanks, Lynne Murnane

    p.s. I was assaulted at work many years ago, and no, I did not report it. The man who grabbed me and kissed me was my boss (he also wanted to show me pornography). I would have lost my job, so I did what so many other women do: dance my way out of it and hope not to feel his wrath. I knew no one would care.

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