The Weinstein Scandal: Breaking the Silence Over Sexual Assault

Two decades ago, in what was supposed to be a business breakfast meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein told actress Ashley Judd to meet him in his room. Appearing in a bathrobe, he told her that she could watch him shower and asked her if he could give her a massage.

On October 5, 2017, The New York Times publicly announced that it found three decades worth of other undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein. The allegations asserted that Mr. Weinstein used his status as a top Hollywood producer to sexually harass, assault, oppress, and manipulate women such as Ms. Judd. For thirty years, Mr. Weinstein had managed to cover up an abundance of dirt; his sexual misconduct was documented in emails, legal records, interviews with current and former employees, interviews with film industry workers and internal documents from Mr. Weinstein’s businesses, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

Mr. Weinstein remained an anonymous perpetrator for over three decades.  He reached more than eight settlements with women for allegations, including but not limited to, unwanted physical contact and sexual harassment. All of his accusers, including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, were his subordinates hoping to advance their careers — actresses, assistants, and models. A pile of allegations and reports from over 30 accusers corroborate Mr. Weinstein’s M.O. — hotel meet-ups disguised as business meetings, requested massages, sexual advances preceded by intimidation, and masturbation in front of the victim.

From an outside lens, Mr. Weinstein seemed like the quintessential Hollywood man — the individual to network with in order to reach success in film or television. His accolades overflow. He has six best-picture Oscars. His film and television credits include Project Runway, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and even the college sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. He has won humanitarian awards and presents himself as a liberal, feminist ally. Nevertheless, it was known by individuals internal to his companies that he mistreats women. Unfortunately, Mr. Weinstein’s employees are forced into silence; his employees sign contracts agreeing not to criticize The Weinstein Company or its leaders in a way that could harm any employee’s personal reputation or The Weinstein Company’s reputation. Some of Mr. Weinstein’s victims who accepted settlements and payout, which were roughly between $80,000 and millions of dollars, signed confidential clauses.

On October 15, 2017, Mr. Weinstein sent an email to Hollywood studio executives and Hollywood agents, writing: “Do not let me be fired.”  However, the Weinstein Company has since removed Mr. Weinstein from the company. The Producers Guild of America terminated his membership, stating: “This is a systemic and pervasive problem requiring immediate industrywide action.”

Mr. Weinstein’s controversial behavior in the film industry sheds light and brings much needed attention to injustices that happen every day in all industries — quid pro quo sexual misconduct and the use of power to coerce, force, or manipulate subordinates into sexual favors. One of Mr. Weinstein’s accusers and former employee of the Weinstein Company, Lauren O’Connor’s, wrote a memo that voices the sexual harassment and assault victim’s plight: “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”

It is clear now more than ever that Hollywood has many unspoken truths that publicists and lawyers have protected at the expense of sexual assault victims. However, Mr. Weinstein’s victims’ courage to speak up has opened a floodgate for other victims to feel comfortable doing so. Solidarity has proven powerful in a time when an assaulter feels confident that he can continue to sweep under the rug over 30 years of his sexual misconduct. Speaking up has been effective in revealing other powerful men’s sexual harassment and abuse, such as Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, President Donald Trump, and actor Bill Cosby. These men, and now Mr. Weinstein, have suffered financial, reputational, and professional setbacks because women chose to tell their stories.

Moreover, the Weinstein controversy has encouraged various women in the industry to publicly address their sexual assaulters. Among the list of courageous women are model Cameron Russell, singer Bjork, “Riverdale” actress Lili Reinhart, and the “Inside Edition” correspondent Lisa Guerrero. Actress Alyssa Milano began an online campaign in reaction to Mr. Weinstein’s victims’ bravery to speak out. The campaign encourages women of all walks of life to post the hashtag #metoo on social media forums if they have dealt with sexual harassment or assault. The hashtag was used more than 500,000 times in its first 24 hours of use.

What this means for you is that your voice can be heard regardless of your harasser or assaulter’s job title, status, net worth, or popularity. #Youtoo can see justice and seek damages. You are not alone. Your harasser or assaulter likely had other victims, and together, we can credibly uncover what his power has been able to conceal.  Speak out and join the force of women who together decree #metoo.


Teri Gibbs by Teri Gibbs
October 18, 2017

What The Taylor Swift Lawsuit Means for You

Taylor Swift often receives a lot of criticism in the media. She dates too many guys or she’s not as good as Beyoncé – but by far Swift critics tend to chide her the most for her delayed responses to feminist issues, including sexual assault.

Now, Swift has spoken out about her own sexual assault. In 2013, radio DJ David Mueller allegedly lifted Swift’s dress and groped her during a photo op. Swift reported Mueller’s behavior to Mueller’s boss. In response, the radio station terminated Mueller. Two years later, Mueller sued Swift for $3 million, claiming her allegation cost him his $150,000 job at the radio station.

Faced with a lawsuit for reporting Mueller, Swift counter-sued Mueller for assault and battery. The catch – Swift claimed only $1.00 in damages. On August 15, 2017, a jury found Mueller liable for Swift’s sexual assault and awarded her $1.00. Many celebrities from Amber Heard to Hillary Clinton and other took to social media to offer their support.

Critics of Swift have again called her out for her delayed response – if she really thought Mueller’s conduct was so bad, why didn’t she sue him first? Why did she only sue for $1.00 in damages?

In reality, Swift had a fairly common response to Mueller’s conduct. Women often feel pressure not to “make a big deal” out of sexual assault. As a result, many women want to forget or adopt a “just-don’t-do-it-again” mentality towards their aggressor.

That’s likely how Swift felt – until Mueller’s ego prevented Swift from private justice.

Swift also presumably meant for her counter suit against Mueller to be symbolic. Swift wanted to show that victims of sexual assault do not sue their perpetrators to become rich – they do it for justice.

Unfortunately, the small price tag Swift placed on her own assault may have failed to actually teach Mueller, and men like him, a lesson. In response to the jury’s verdict, Mueller said he would pay Swift with a Sacagawea dollar and stated: “I mean if this is all about women’s rights … it’s a little poke at them, a little bit. I mean, I think they made this into a publicity stunt, and this is my life.”

Clearly, Mueller still doesn’t get it.

So, what does Swift’s lawsuit mean?

Ultimately, it means that regardless of whether someone inappropriately touches you in an obscene way for a split second or for many seconds – you have a right to justice. You have a right to private justice – like reporting the behavior to a supervisor – or public justice – like in a court of law – or both.

Swift’s lawsuit also highlights the importance of a proper valuation of your damages. Your emotional, psychological, and physical well-being is worth significantly more than $1.00. Although Swift meant well with her symbolic lawsuit, a $1.00 judgment does not adequately hold a perpetrator responsible for his conduct or prevent the behavior from recurrence.

If you have experienced sexual assault, take action on behalf of yourself or to stop it from happening to someone else.  Lawyers who specialize in sexual assault answer questions anonymously, and free of charge in a consultation. If you have a question, feel free to call us at 619-995-6829.

Stephanie Sandler by Stephanie Sandler
August 17, 2017

What You Need to Know About Uber & Lyft Sexual Assaults

Updated August 3, 2017.

In March of 2016 we wrote a post about the dangers of using a ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Later in April 2016, a district attorney in San Francisco sued Uber for falsely claiming they had used “the most comprehensive screening of would-be drivers available.” It was later revealed that these screenings did not include fingerprinting for past convictions, and Uber settled the case for $10,000,000.

Update: October 2017

Be aware that there are general personal injury lawyers claiming to assist sexual assault victims who have little to no experience in this field of law. Our firm founder has released the following statement: “Sexual assault is not as common as a car accident, and the treatment and procedure required to begin healing and become a survivor of a sexual assault varies for each individual. If someone has been sexually assaulted whether by an Uber or Lyft driver, or otherwise, I encourage them to speak with a lawyer who specifically handles this area of law.”

Uber’s code of conduct at the time included the language: “Furthermore, commenting on appearance, asking overly personal questions and making unwanted physical contact is inappropriate.” Uber and Lyft have both come under scrutiny for their drivers who have committed violent acts or sexual assault.

A website called Who’s Driving You has been set up to track news related to accidents, harrassment, and sexual assault connected with Uber and Lyft. Reports for robbery and physical assault average about one to two incidents per month, whereas sexual assaults are nearly double that amount. Unfortunately, as with most sexual assaults, this number of reported incidents is most likely lower than the actual number of incidents.

Uber & Lyft Assault Victims Hire Our Firm

As of October 3, 2017, dozens of women have confided in our staff about their dangerous and inappropriate ride-sharing experience with Uber or Lyft.

If you are one of the millions of women who depend on a ride-sharing service to get where you’re going, be aware the next time you get into a car with a driver. The following data was collected from past and recent incidents, and could save you from an attack:

  • In all cases the drivers were men
  • In nearly all sexual assault cases, the women were intoxicated
  • In all incidents of sexual assault, the rider was sitting in the front passenger seat
  • In one incident, an intoxicated woman was “helped” to her door where upon entering her house she was raped by the driver

It used to be that riding in a taxi meant the patron sat in the back, on the right side of the car, and hardly ever in the front seat unless the back seats were in use. This deviation from the norm, while “friendly,” has unfortunately resulted in the increase of assault and unwanted touching.

What Do I Do if I Have Been Sexually Assaulted by an Uber or Lyft Driver?

While it is a painful truth, know that you are not alone. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, there are resources to help you, including the caring staff at our firm. We are counselors who work with victims of sexual assault and violence, and will hold your story in the strictest of confidence. There is no obligation to hire us to handle your case, and your consultation with us is completely free.

Meet Jessica Pride

Next Steps to Take

If you are not ready to speak with a lawyer, but want to report the incident to police or speak with a counselor, we encourage you to look for a sexual assault victim center in your local area. If you’re not sure where to turn, we will gladly help you find the assistance you need. Call our firm at 619-995-6829.

You are not alone – we are here for you.

by Jessica Pride
July 12, 2017

Jessica Pride at the 18th Annual Tea & Tonic Fundraiser Featuring Terry Crews

As the event co-chair, Jessica Pride will be amongst several sponsors, volunteers and community leaders at the Center for Community Solutions San Diego’s (CCSSD) 18th annual Tea & Tonic. The fundraising event celebrates all those committed to supporting the CCSSD’s mission to end relationship violence by being a catalyst for caring communities and social justice. The CCSSD welcomes celebrity keynote speaker Terry Crews, who is known for his action and comedic movie roles in films such as Everybody Hates Chris and White Chicks.

Jessica maintains a key role in helping to organize the Tea & Tonic fundraising event and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the CCSSD.

Jessica (R) and friend Ms. McCord at last year’s Tea & Tonic.

To purchase tickets, contact Kimberly Jenks at or call (858) 272-5777.

(View full PDF)

by Jessica Pride
March 24, 2017

When A Massage Becomes An Assault

Massages are meant to be a soothing relaxation technique to relieve tension or stress – but what happens when they become something else? Something dark and uninvited?

If you’ve trusted in a professional massage therapist, masseuse or spa only to have that trust completely violated, it’s important to know that it is not your fault. While it is easy and far too common for victims of sexual assault to look inward and shoulder the blame, you are not guilty for what has happened to you. You did not ask to be abused.

The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

You are not alone.

Many may feel confused about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate conduct during massage therapy, and yet it is critical for identifying abuse when it happens. The following guidelines can help clarify the difference between appropriate behavior and abuse during a massage. This information can be educational and lead to prevention by asking your massage therapist prior to a session, or hope and healing if you are a survivor of such an occurrence.

It’s Your Right

As with any other wellness or spa treatment, there are boundaries, ethics and normally a zero-tolerance policy associated with massage services. Unfortunately, there are still those who use their authority, position and access to privileged information to prey upon people in such a vulnerable state.

These guidelines can help you understand what appropriate behavior is expected of a massage therapist or masseuse when receiving a massage, as well as your rights and what to do if a situation becomes uncomfortable.


Your masseuse or therapist should communicate the process clearly and effectively. Do you fully understand the procedure that’s been described to you? If you have questions, be sure to ask them. It is your right to be informed of what exactly will be taking place during the massage.


There are different types of massages – Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, etc. and each kind entails a variety of movements and practices. If at any time during your massage process you feel uncomfortable, you can ask the therapist to explain what he or she is doing, or simply ask them to stop the action. You are under no obligation to allow the therapist to perform a technique if it makes you experience pain, embarrassment or discomfort. You are in charge of your body, and you are entitled to set boundaries.

Comfort Level

A massage is intended to release tension, improve mobility and function as well as promote relaxation. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, you can choose to end the massage. Deciding what articles of clothing to leave on as well which body parts you do not want touched are your personal preference, and it is your right to be feel comfortable throughout the entire massage.

Remember, if something doesn’t feel right, you are allowed to express yourself and ask questions. Specifically, if you have never received a massage and don’t fully know what to expect, asking questions can greatly help ensure your safety and comfort level.

Hope and Healing After Massage Therapy Assault

If you are a survivor of sexual assault by a massage therapist, we at Pride Law Firm offer our sincerest empathy for what you have gone through. While we cannot begin to understand, or put into words what you are feeling and have endured, we want you to know that Jessica Pride and the Pride Law Firm are here for you.

There is hope. As you begin the healing process, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You can let go of guilt and shame
  • You can heal from emotional wounds
  • You can have a healthy relationship with your body
  • You can be proactive and process the trauma
  • You can move on with your life and feel like yourself again

Seeking Justice 

In recent events, an unlicensed masseuse is being charged with the molestation of a thirteen-year-old girl at a Chula Vista, CA massage parlor. Jessica Pride is representing the victim.

You do not have to tolerate sexual assault from a masseuse, or anyone else. And, most importantly, you do not have to fight such a difficult battle alone. Jessica Pride and the Pride Law Firm offer a no-cost, no-obligation and 100% confidential consultation.  Call us today at 619-995-6829 to learn about your rights, and how help you move forward. We will be your voice, or assist you in finding your own again.

by Jessica Pride
March 15, 2017

Powerful ‘It’s on Us’ Video Reveals How We Unintentionally Teach Rape Culture

Chances are good that, if you’re a girl, you got picked on by a boy during your school years. Maybe your hair was pulled or you got pushed, teased or ganged up on during recess. Possibly even worse things happened, like being bullied about your body, having your clothes messed with or your body touched in a way that made you uncomfortable.

Adults often have a set of stock phrases to respond to children’s complaints about this kind of behavior. They say things meant to reframe the incident, such as “he’s just picking on you because he likes you” or “boys will be boys.” Rather than teaching the female child that she gets to set the boundaries on how she is treated, they teach her to regard her body and her girlhood as a liability, an object that others are allowed to treat however they want. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
December 12, 2016

Safety For Undocumented Victims Of Sexual Assault

human rightsIn all the controversial arguments that surround the issue of undocumented immigration, it is easy to forget one crucial truth: undocumented immigrants are people who live with constant fear.

When a person chooses to leave their native country for the United States without going through proper procedure, their choice is usually made under duress. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
December 9, 2016

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

The conversation about sexual assault on college campuses has grown widespread in the aftermath of the Brock Turner rape case at Stanford University where the victim’s powerful letter captured the nation’s attention. Since the case’s July 2016 outcome, school administrators and safety officials feel greater urgency to inform the public about how they intend to keep students safe during the school year.

Stay safe on college campusSexual Assault on College Campuses

It’s been speculated that United States college campuses grossly under report the incidence of sexual assault that happens on school grounds. A possible reason for the unreported assault: schools fear that full reporting of these incidents are a negative reflection of their campuses, which would cause their application numbers to fall. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
November 9, 2016

Sexual Assault Education in California Schools

Primary school years are an important time for children to learn not only about reading, writing and arithmetic, but also how to create and sustain relationships. What children do and say on the playground becomes their habits of making friends and exploring intimacy later in life.

Recognizing the huge potential contained in early education years, the California state legislature has recently passed a law to introduce sexual assault education for K-12 students starting in the 2016-2017 school year. Lawmakers hope that this new curriculum will not only prevent sexual assault at school, but start chipping away at the prevalence of sexual harassment in our nation’s culture.Sexual education improves

Sexual Harassment Often Starts at School

It may seem like a stretch to think that schoolyard squabbles are the root cause of sexual assault. But that is exactly what the research reveals. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
August 23, 2016

14 Myths About Rape

It is a sad fact that rape continues to be shrouded in stigma and misinformation in our society. Survivors of rape not only face physical and emotional turmoil following their sexual assault, they are likely to confront misunderstandings and outright lies about rape. These widespread misconceptions can make the healing process all the more arduous for a survivor.Survivor-of-Rape

What’s more, rape myths – which effectively perpetuate an acceptance of rape – contribute to our society’s already too high rape statistics.

It’s time to shed falsehoods in order to help survivors of rape recover, and to help protect others from enduring this traumatizing form of assault. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
July 14, 2016