Following the flood of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, former Vice President Joe Biden has come forward to publicly denounce the Hollywood producer. At Rutgers University on Oct. 12, the former vice president spoke about preventing campus sexual assault – a longtime cause of his – and the disturbing way Weinstein used his position of power to allegedly assault and harass women.
“Sexual assault is not about sex. It’s about power,” Biden said in a clip recorded at the event. “It’s about the abuse of power. It’s about deeply embedded attitudes in our culture that for a thousand years have shamed the victims and have allowed the perpetrators to escape the consequences of their actions.”
On Weinstein, Biden said, “We’ve recently seen that as stark relief in the disgusting conduct and behavior of a very powerful figure in Hollywood. Because of the bravery of so many courageous women speaking up, putting their careers still at risk to save other women, this disgusting behavior – at least on the part of Harvey Weinstein – has been brought to an abrupt and justifiable end.”
In 2015, The Weinstein Company produced a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, titled The Hunting Ground. At the time, Biden helped promote the film, even appearing at the Academy Awards to introduce Lady Gaga‘s performance of the song “Til It Happens to You” from the movie. The night before his speech at Rutgers, Biden publicly condemned Weinstein the at the Anti-Violence Project Courage Awards in New York City.
It’s currently unclear whether Weinstein will face legal charges for any of these allegations, although as The New York Times uncovered, he had reached settlements with several women over the years. In his speech, Biden said he hopes Weinstein has to face additional consequences because “this man deserves more than losing his company.”
Turning his focus on the many men who have covered for Weinstein in the past, Biden said, “It’s long past time for the powerful men in Hollywood to speak up, to be strong enough to say something,” adding, “Silence is complicity.”