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#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Insists Harvey Weinstein’s Overturned Conviction ‘Not A Blow to the Movement’ | VIDEO

*(CNN) — #MeToo founder Tarana Burke couldn’t hide her disappointment on Thursday in a hastily arranged press conference following news that once-powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes conviction had been overturned by the New York Court of Appeals. But her resolve was just as strong.

On a day when reactions from survivors, including Weinstein’s accusers, largely conveyed disheartenment and outrage, Burke chose to deliver a rallying call for unity among them.

“We ride the wave when we have big moments and when we have low moments, we get low and we get dirty and we do what we have to do. We get in the trenches and we do our work, and we will continue to do that,” she said. “The outcome of this case doesn’t change that.”

Burke, who led the charge of the #MeToo movement before it became a viral hashtag, added that she was “devastated for the survivors who are connected to this case and the survivors who had found some solace and catharsis in the original verdict around Harvey Weinstein.”

Tarana Burke (Sarah Morris-Getty Images-FILE via CNN Newsource)
Tarana Burke (Sarah Morris-Getty Images-FILE via CNN Newsource)

Burke spoke at the press conference after actress and activist Ashley Judd, who called the court’s decision “an act of institutional betrayal.”

“I stand in sisterhood and solidarity with all survivors of male sexual violence,” Judd said. “Today is a day, like every day in American women’s lives when male sexual violence has intruded and disrupted our lives. This is what it’s like to be a woman in America, living with male entitlement to our bodies.”

The New York Court of Appeals’ ruling comes more than six years after reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017 revealed Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual abuse, harassment and secret settlements as he used his influence as a Hollywood power broker to take advantage of young women. The revelations led to a wave of women speaking publicly about the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and harassment in what became known as the #MeToo movement.

Judd was among the first women in Hollywood to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment when she told her story in Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning report.

She sued him for defamation and harassment in 2018.

Ashley Judd (WABC via CNN Newsource)
Ashley Judd (WABC via CNN Newsource)

Before the start of Weinstein’s downfall, he was one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood who produced movies such as “Pulp Fiction,” “Clerks” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

The case and what’s next

The 72-year-old Weinstein was convicted in New York in 2020 of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Weinstein has maintained his innocence and denied any non-consensual sexual activity.

In its ruling, the court said the testimony of “prior bad acts” witnesses should not have been allowed because it “was unnecessary to establish defendant’s intent and served only to establish defendant’s propensity to commit the crimes charged.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Thursday said that it plans to retry the case.

Weinstein is being held at Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The department said it is reviewing the appeals court’s decision.

Harvey Weinstein (Etinne Laurent-Pool-AFP-Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
Harvey Weinstein (Etinne Laurent-Pool-AFP-Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

He is unlikely to be released because he was sentenced last year in Los Angeles to 16 years in prison for charges of rape and sexual assault. That trial similarly used “prior bad acts” witnesses and has also been appealed.

At the end of her remarks on Thursday, Burke acknowledged that the court’s ruling would spur questions about the future of the #MeToo movement but clarified “This decision actually means that we have a movement.”

“Ten years ago we could not get a man like Harvey Weinstein into a courtroom and you need to be clear about that,” she said.

She added later: “This is not a blow to the movement. It is a clarion call, and we are prepared to answer that call.”

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