ALBANY — Oscar-winning movie producer Harvey Weinstein, now one of New York’s most notorious prison inmates after being sentenced for sexual assault, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to officials connected to the state prison system.
Weinstein, who turned 68 last Thursday is being isolated at Wende Correctional Facility in Western New York, officials told CNHI Sunday.
He is one of two Wende inmates who have tested positive, the officials said.
Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in a prosecution that attracted world-wide attention amid the #MeToo movement.
Officials familiar with his situation said it is believed Weinstein was positive for the virus when he entered the state prison system last Wednesday from Rikers Island, a New York City jail.
Weinstein was sent to Wende, where the prison system operates an intake center for new state inmates. Inmates are typically sent to other facilities from there after medical and security concerns are assessed.
Weinstein was accepted by the prison system last week following his sentencing at a Manhattan courtroom. During his trial, he had been alternating his time between Rikers Island and a New York City hospital, where he was treated for high blood pressure and chest pains.
Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), said he could not comment on Weinstein’s situation or elaborate on any inmate’s health record due to privacy rules.
Powers acknowledged the union has urged state corrections officials to immediately suspend all “non essential” transfers of inmates from one state facility to another as well as the transporting of local jail prisoners to the state prisons during the ongoing health emergency.
“There is no better breeding ground for this virus than a closed environment such as a correctional facility,” said Powers.
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the agency overseeing state facilities, declared last week it is suspending all visits to prison inmates to counter the spread of the virus.
The officials who said Weinstein has tested positive spoke on the condition of anonymity, noting they were not authorized by the corrections agency to publicly comment on the situation.
Powers said three state corrections officers are among those who have tested positive and numerous officers throughout the system are being monitored after coming in contact with people believed to have been infected, he noted.
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From HaAretz – To read the entire article click here.
New True Crime Show Explores ‘Insane’ Story of a Prominent Rabbi, Sexual Assault and a Missing Teen
‘It’s a story you hear and dismiss as an urban legend at first,’ says creator of Israeli docu series delving into the world of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who served prison time for sexual assault
On the night of January 23, 1986, a 17-year-old yeshiva student disappeared in Jerusalem. Nissim Shitrit was last seen in the area of an ultra-Orthodox community in the Jerusalem Hills. Four months earlier, members of a so-called modesty patrol came to the yeshiva where Shitrit was enrolled. Disguised as yeshiva students, they told the teenager that two well-known rabbis wanted to speak to him about his future. Shitrit went with them to the beach. They began to beat him up, but stopped when a police van drove by.
Shitrit filed a complaint with the police about the attack, telling investigators that his assailants had identified themselves as members of a modesty patrol who told him they came to teach him a lesson for having dared to go out with girls. In his statement, he added that one of his attackers was Shmuel Habany, a known follower of Rabbi Eliezer Berland and a member of the rabbi’s Shuvu Banim Hasidic community in Jerusalem. Habany was arrested, but released after denying a connection to the incident.
Members of Berland’s community are people who became religiously observant and are not wanted in their secular home but also are not welcomed in the Haredi community, which often sees them as unmarriageable. To what extent did that situation allow Berland to wield control over consciousness of his followers?
“It’s easier to take these people, who are tabula rasa in terms of religion, and to tell them things that they’ll consider to be absolute truths. From there it’s easier to also arrive at extremism. Often they actually choose a new identity for themselves, changing their names. With Berland there was also this extremism surrounding the laws of modesty, until at the end he was convicted of sex crimes. I think Berland has obsessions surrounding sexual control, and that’s where all the insanity came from. There are testimonies I was exposed to from additional women who didn’t go to court but testified before a rabbinical tribunal.”
In the movie and beyond, Berland is portrayed as a dangerous man with great influence over his followers. Perhaps law enforcement isn’t dealing with him and his sect in a reasonable manner, even when he preaches violence.
“I can’t understand it. After all he is a spiritual authority who has great influence. It’s like a riddle. I don’t know why and how it happens. I don’t have answers. To come and say that maybe there’s someone in the police who wants to protect Berland? I find that hard to believe. He is a powerful man with connections to a lot of people, including people from the underworld, who are considered his followers.”
Do you think there’s a connection between underworld figures and the fact that the police seem to be lenient toward him?
“If there is, that would be frightening.”
During your research, did you consider whether there are figures in the police who are protecting Berland at some level?
“There’s a young woman who filed a police complaint against Berland for sexual harassment. A woman I know accompanied her. I know that a few hours after the complaint was submitted, Berland was already at Ben-Gurion International Airport and he left on a trip that lasted three years, until he was extradited [here]. People who left Shuvu Banim told me a few times that they had lost their faith in the police because of the way they were treated. There were so many things that Berland did and said, ostensibly including calls to murder someone, and you don’t understand how he wasn’t arrested.”
In the wake of your movie’s findings, the police have launched a new investigation into the disappearance of Nissim Shitrit. Do you believe that this time they will investigate the case with the seriousness that it deserves?
“I shall be very disappointed if the case of Nissim and of Avi Edri is not reopened,” Haziza said, referring to a different unsolved murder, carried out in the Jerusalem Hills in 1990 and attributed to the modesty patrols.“If at the end of the new investigation there are no answers, it will surprise and disappoint me very much.”
It’s possible that you’ll be called in and asked about findings in the case. What will happen if you’re asked to testify in a way that involves reporter’s privilege – the protection of confidential sources?
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Are the Weinstein-type Stories Covered by Mainstream News Outlets in Today’s World Determined by Financiers, the Politically Connected or the Otherwise Protected?
With the conviction of Harvey Weinstein on two of the five counts for which he was charged, one that is certain to go through years of legal wrangling, Weinstein is finally behind bars. And while there is still a California case against him pending, he has not yet been convicted for predatory sexual crimes, something engendered in the earliest of reports about his actions and the #MeToo movement that followed.
The person who can be largely credited with the conviction of Harvey Weinstein is journalist Ronen Farrow and his groundbreaking coverage. Without Farrow’s sheer audacity and the willingness of The New Yorker to take on a controversial case of sexual abuse by one of the most prominent and visible people in Hollywood, who really knows what would have stopped Weinstein and others like him. Farrow and The New Yorker set off what is and forever will be referred to as the #MeToo movement. Farrow handed humanity back to dozens of women directly affected by Weinstein. He also gave courage to an entire, though tragically common club of people threaded together only by the fact that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed. The #MeToo movement has “ushered in a new way of thinking about sexual harrassment in the workplace” and frankly a new way of looking at sexual assault everywhere. #MeToo is not only about women. It is about anyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted and that upended the axis of the world.
But, with that we cannot help wonder whether journalistic news outlets and networks that knew what was happening (or suspected) and chose to remain silent did not provide Weinstein and others like him (Epstein, for example) with a means to act with impunity. For whatever reason Weinstein was shielded from scrutiny by major news outlets; and we posit that by remaining mum on stories like the Farrow story, a message was sent both to victims and other alleged criminals that their crimes and misdemeanors would not reach mainstream airwaves. In other words, their secrets were vouchsafed.
Journalism used to mean uncovering fundamental truths, which of course begins with a requisite “suspicion.” In the years of sharp and scrutinizing broadcast news, mere somewhat substantiated allegations were often a focus of prime time broadcast and print stories. Where on the spectrum of inalienable truth and suspicion a news organization chose to publish, depended upon the story and the outlet. There is wide latitude between salacious rumor and dead-to-rights news.
Before the era of the internet, journalism was largely not contingent upon sound bites, the political and financial clout of the viewers or the power of the purse of the scrutinized. At least it did not seem that way. Today, the truth seems hard to find. Farrow is the exception not the rule. Why is that?
Is that not one of the reasons for this blog and others like it, to uncloak hidden truths that others refuse to address? Mind you, some of what we and more formidable blogs publish is already public. Yet mainstream media is unwilling to connect the dots. And we view that as no less enshrouding than a conscious decision to bury a story.
In today’s world of litigious subjects, well-financed fortune-holders and, for the purposes of this blog Jewish geography, stories are often buried by large news organizations to avoid litigation, financial threats or claims of anti-Semitism. The truth is far harder to find. RUOC’s fate proves that the politically connected are making inroads into actively silencing voices. Is there a similar Ronen Farrow to be found?
When the Most Powerful Man in Hollywood Tells you Sex is the Currency, is There Really any Choice?
Seven men and five women are in the process of deliberating on the charges against Harvey Weinstein. It is alleged by the defense that “regret” has been “renamed as rape” by the accusers (view here). We wholly disagree. As a point of full disclosure, this is the opinion of a random blogger who has had no contact with anyone in the case. It should be viewed as nothing more.
The below article from the NY Times and the follow-up additional reading are hard to wrap one’s head around. There should not be a world where sex is currency. The professional lives of women should not be judged on sexual prowess. In Weinstein’s world, he was the power-broker, the gatekeeper, the Don. This was far greater than a job interview and the allegations against Harvey Wenstein should be viewed in the context of the world in which he behaved. Sexual favors should not have been an available currency for him nor should they be for any employer in any profession.
Moreover, if women believe that the “sex-as-currency” defense is how high-priced defenses are allowed to play out in court, how many will keep quiet to avoid the ridicule going forward?
Harvey Weistein was brilliant in his professional life, the creator of a phenomenon, particularly for those of us who love movies, cherish the escape and can readily relish in a day of one movie after another. That talent and vision cannot be taken away or taken lightly. With great power comes great responsibility. He had young actresses’ dreams in his hands. He should have treated them with care, treaded lightly. The problem with this entire case is that he was flippant with dreams and willing to exploit the vulnerable; and his defense is trying to decriminalize that and make it “okay.” In our opinion that is a mischaracterization and unacceptable.
The price many women had to pay to be a part of Weinstein’s incredible art was far too high, not a choice between “yes” and “no” a choice between acting a giving up the dream. Did those women really have a choice if they wanted to act?
Harvey Weinstein knows the sex was not consensual even if it was not forcible; and for some it was forced. The underlying structure of the word “choice” in his world is laden with the notion of duress, and laced with Weinstein’s status as the visionary. We hope the jury can see his actions for what they were, pressure to perform sexually if an actress ever wanted a place in Hollywood. That is not consensual sex.
In the interest of full disclosure, the prosecution team has had nothing to do with the publication of this opinion, an alternate plea to the jury, to give the victims justice.
Harvey Weinstein was Hollywood. He was the embodiment of what it meant to become an actress. He was the authority of what was good or bad. He had the power to decide who could live or who could die (figuratively speaking) in the field of acting. Getting past the Weinstein gatekeeper was not a choice. And if that “transaction” was the price of stardom, it was not consensual but manipulated, almost like drugging a date who decided to take a drink but did not realize that drink was laced with MDMA.
Aspiring actresses live and breathe their professions. It is a different thing for a female attorney, securities trader or CPA. We have transcripts, writings, reports that we can submit to prove our worthiness, our talent. We have bar exams to pass. Series exams to overcome. We are not screen-tested. Our success or failure is mathematically quantifiable. We choose to take the bar exam or the Series 7 exam but we can do it with our clothes on. And the examiners do not have the power to have us blacklisted if we fail, if it takes a few times to pass or if we do not score well. There is an objective measure of our talent and then success is generally ours to own. That is a choice.
The film industry is a wholly different animal. Everything is subjective. In Weinstein’s case, his opinion mattered. It did not only matter to him. He had the power to make or break an aspiring actress, the power to blacklist, the power to create and destroy. That is not a mere choice of “Yes” or “No”. And, according to at least one victim, he used that power to excess.
Unlike other professions, acting is as much a craft as it is an artistic endeavor. But to master that craft, the artist must give of herself, must be vulnerable, must be open to some form of exploitation, whether it’s looks, or shape or figure or voice. That’s a wholly different reality in professional terms. But sexual exploitation should not have been an option, a part of the equation. Weinstein created an environment where the rules of the game were different, unacceptable, manipulative; and they were his rules.
Weinstein’s attorneys are using the argument that sex as a currency was a choice, that this is the difference between immoral and criminal behavior. It was not. Being cordial to one’s attacker does not diminish the attack. It speaks to the strength of the victim not the weakness of the narrative.
How could sex have been a choice when Weinstein largely determined how an aspiring actress was viewed by all of Hollywood? He was the immortal in a world of mere mortals. Sexual favors for an aspiring actress was not a choice if he could kill the career of someone who defied him.
Harvey Weinstein was so much the visionary that the lens from which he viewed people, aspiring actresses, was often the standard measure from which others viewed those same actresses; and he knew it. He manipulated reality and preyed on the dreamers. He laced the proverbial drinks.
One can only imagine what it took for some of Weinstein’s alleged victims to succumb to Weinstein’s demands so as to be viewed through his eyes. But was that trade really consensual if not making the trade had the power to destroy the dream?
For the women who claimed to have been forcibly raped, one can only imagine what it took to get past Weinstein’s efforts to chill speech in order to speak out and tell their stories. This was not a trade – sexual favors in exchange for a chance at stardom. Sex was not a chosen currency it was manipulated as a dream-catcher.
Aspiring actresses, for whom film is/was the lifelong dream, had no choices if they wanted to make it into the profession. They had to drink. Sex with Harvey Weinstein was not a choice.
The bar exam is a choice. Sex is victimization. Harvey Weinstein was not a bar-examiner. He, in this blogger’s opinion, was a predator.
This is just the opinion of a blogger.
Weinstein’s Lawyer Wrote an Article Addressing Jurors. The Judge Is Unhappy.
The film producer’s lawyer urged jurors to do “what they know is right,’’ prompting the prosecution to complain of jury tampering.
Over the weekend, just days before jurors in the Harvey Weinstein case were set to begin deliberations, his lead defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno, wrote an opinion piece imploring them “to do what they know is right.”
The article in Newsweek magazine infuriated the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and on Tuesday the lead prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, called Ms. Rotunno’s behavior “inappropriate,” and tantamount to jury tampering.
The judge ordered the defense team not to speak to the news media until after a verdict is reached.
“Defense team you are ordered to refrain from communicating with the press until there is a verdict in the case,” Justice James M. Burke told Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers. “I would caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut.”
The jurors were not in the courtroom at the time. As in many high-profile cases, jurors have been reminded every day by the judge not to follow any news media coverage of the case.
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A lawyer for Harvey Weinstein told jurors on Thursday that he was the victim of an “overzealous prosecution” and that prosecutors were acting like moviemakers, inventing an alternative world in which women are not responsible for their own behavior.
During a five-hour closing argument, the lawyer, Donna Rotunno, argued that Mr. Weinstein’s accusers had chosen to engage in consensual and often transactional relationships with him to advance their own careers.
Malka Leifer, former Melbourne principal and accused child abuser, granted further delays in extradition process
The alleged victims of an Israeli teacher accused of sexually abusing girls at a Melbourne school said they were distressed and angry about further delays to her extradition case.
The Jerusalem District Court has granted lawyers for the former principal of the Adass Israel girls school, Malka Leifer, time to cross-examine members of a psychiatric panel that found the 54-year-old had been faking mental illness to avoid extradition.
The panel is meant to be the final assessment of Ms Leifer’s mental fitness after more than 30 previous examinations, many of which found her mentally competent to face trial.
Israel’s State Attorney’s Office had seized on its findings to press for a speedier resolution to the extradition hearing, so Ms Leifer could be sent to Australia to face 74 sexual abuse charges.
“The psychiatric panel’s findings lead to the inevitable conclusion that over the past five years, the court and the mental health system have fallen victim to a fraud perpetrated by Leifer and her supporters,” it said in a press release before the court hearing.
This is being published from the files of Larry Noodles.
Please see his blog for an in-depth look into Rabbi Daniel Greer, whom Noodles refers to as the “GOAT.” He has written extensively on the subject.
In our opinion, far too many Jewish organizations, shuls, funds, and people have supported Rabbi Greer, written letters on his behalf, explained away his crimes as if they did not happen. Is it not time that his supporters be held accountable for their support and by implication their complacency?
A recent letter written to the Court and posted by Noodles on his blog reads: “He [Greer] humiliates people with the ease that others say good morning.”
“However, I wish to echo and amplify the voices of his true victims and tell you both from experience and professional expertise that victims of emotional, let alone physcial or sexual abuse often come back, often seek to impress, and often fail to confront the abuser.”
We will be following this story closely and adding information as it becomes available regarding Rabbi Greer and his supporters.
Is it not time to denounce Rabbi Greer and show your support for his victims?
NEW GOAT VICTIM COMES FORWARD
Daniel Greer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, suspended after 12, last month after getting convicted of four felony counts of risk of injury to a minor. Connecticut trial Judge Jon Alander considered the testimony of no less than three accusers, ie., Rabbi Avi Hack, Eli Mirlis and Rafi when he sentenced pedophile “Rabbi” Daniel Greer, AKA “the Goat” to 20 years in jail.
In spite of the testimony of no less than three accusers, in spite of the fact that the Goat’s two loyal sons fled the compound, and in spite of the fact that Dr. Ford testified in the civil trial that Ezi Greer was molested by the Goat, the Goat received numerous glowing letters of admiration, love, and support. One such love letter was written and signed by “Senior” Rabbi Albert Feldman, Rabbi Emeritus of the Westville Synagogue, who stated: “After knowing Daniel Greer for better than a half-century, I can fully vouch for Rabbi Daniel Greer’s upright moral and ethical character and behavior in all situations.”