“Thirty years ago, I accepted sexist behavior because I loved my job and thought it was the price I had to pay to keep it,” said Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley in a candid response to last week’s news of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein being found guilty of rape. “I don’t know if this [guilty verdict] is a game changer as much as it is a reminder this isn’t going away, that the rules have changed, and that people in power can and will be held accountable for their misuse of power.”
Dudley cut her professional teeth focusing on issues of sexual violence involving women and children, taking rape seriously at a time when not everyone in law enforcement did so. “It is my hope that the less powerful people in our criminal justice system know this is no longer true, that they don’t have to accept sexist behavior in order to be successful,” said Dudley.
In the Weinstein trial, defense attorneys highlighted the fact that several of Weinstein’s accusers continued to have cordial if not romantic relations with the accused after they said he sexually assaulted them. That may account for why Weinstein was found guilty on the lesser charges, not the ones that could have sent him away for life.
“This is always difficult,” Dudley said, “but many times victims do that in an attempt to normalize the abuse and not feel as if they were victimized. It is not uncommon.”
Victims of rape and other forms of assault can find help at Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), formerly known as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, at (805) 963-6832. See sbstesa.org for more.