Will Harvey Weinstein's Rape Conviction Finally Give Me Closure?

Dawn Dunning as told to Rose Minutaglio
Photo credit: ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN/Redux

From ELLE

Dawn Dunning is a former actress and one of six women who testified that Harvey Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them. She took the stand on January 29 to describe, in harrowing detail, how the once mighty Hollywood mogul attacked her in a hotel room fifteen years ago. A few weeks later, she said he offered her a movie part—but only if she'd have a threesome with him. Weinstein was not charged with assaulting Dunning, but prosecutors used her testimony to establish a pattern of abuse. Below, she opens up to ELLE.com about facing him in court—and what happens now that he's been convicted of rape.

I was fresh off a flight to New York City, when the news alert lit up my phone: "Harvey Weinstein Is Found Guilty of Rape." Tears of gratitude streamed down my cheeks as I fell to the floor. Could this really be happening?

For someone as rich and as influential as Harvey Weinstein—the man responsible for making my life a living hell—to be held accountable for his actions never seemed possible before. Now it is.

We met back in 2004 when he was one of the most powerful people in America—something he never let me forget. After The New York Times published my account in October 2017, Weinstein's Black Cube cronies followed me into coffee shops and took my picture; suspicious cars lingered outside my house; my email was hacked. The intimidation tactics worked. I worried for the wellbeing of my two young children. I lived in unabated fear, looking over my shoulder at every turn.

Now, as my tormentor heads to Rikers Island to await sentencing, my friends and family hope I find closure: "How do you feel that it's all over?" they want to know.

"That's the wrong question," I tell them. "This isn't the end, this is just the beginning."

Photo credit: Scott Heins - Getty Images

Last month I was asked to testify at his Manhattan trial, which was emotionally draining. The night before I was due to take the stand, I didn't sleep a wink. My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and I did a 20-minute yoga session on the floor of my Chinatown hotel to clear my mind.

Wanting to look serious and assured, I picked up a camel-colored suit from Zara the week prior. I paired that with a black turtleneck and matching high heel boots. I felt confident, and ready.

The courtroom was packed. When I was asked to identify Harvey, I stood up and looked him in the eye. I pointed right at him. He smiled back and waved like we were old friends. It gave me the creeps.

My testimony lasted over two hours, and the cross examination was brutal. When it was done, a police car escorted me past the gaggle of reporters waiting outside. They dropped me off a few blocks from the courthouse to meet up with my friends, who treated me to dim sum and sake at a hole in the wall joint nearby. I needed that drink after what I'd just been through. They were proud, they told me, and even the district attorney called to congratulate me on a job well done.

All I could think was: "Thank God I didn't fuck it up."

I live in Los Angeles, and when I caught wind that a verdict was imminent, I jumped on a red eye to New York. For better or for worse, I wanted to be with my fellow silence breakers when the jury's decision was announced. We have this really supportive group email chain, which just absolutely blew up after he was found guilty.

I'm now picking up the pieces of my life by focusing on my creative services company Bazar Noir and spending time with my kids. I do hot yoga twice a week, which is the only time I can really clear my head completely of Weinstein. It hasn't sunk in yet that someone with so much power is headed to prison. I hope we've been able to set a precedent, and not just for future cases.

I hope in the end that it will be easier for victims to come forward and for sexual assault to be reported and prosecuted. In industries where abuse of power is so prevalent—the nightlife business, the modeling world, and in Hollywood—I hope his conviction will make predators stop and think twice before acting or doing or saying something harmful.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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