A Theoretical Perspective of Crime


Psychologists help in the judicial process by explaining the behavior of people behind crimes, why they were involved, and whether they stand a chance to re-offend. Sexual assault is among the prevalent crime in the United States that require a theoretical psychological perspective. Such include trauma theory, sexual aggression perpetration, development psychopathology, and attachment theory. Besides, sexual assault is perpetrated mostly by people who are well known to victims. This paper focus on Harley Weinstein’s case on sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi in the year 2006, among multiple victims he assaulted since 1990. From the case, Weinstein used his influence in the film industry to lure vulnerable employees or colleagues into his sex assault traps. From a list of risk factors in Weinstein’s case, he might have been compelled to assault his victims due to the influence of his character and background, according to sexual aggression perpetration. His case has led to increased social awareness regarding sexual assault through hashtag #metoo, and increased acceptance of more witnesses in courts during prosecution.


Usually, psychiatrists and psychologists are involved in the judicial process to assess the psychological states of people behind crimes. Some contributions of both psychologists and psychiatrists include helping find out why certain crimes were perpetuated, whether the perpetrator was sane or otherwise, whether they stand a chance to change, and whether they may re-offend if released in society. This paper focuses on sexual assault, taking Mimi Haleyi’s case against Harvey Weinstein.

Definition and Characteristics

Sexual assault is any sexual act that is done to an individual without their consent. It is acknowledged as sexual abuse or sexual violence, which may include forced oral sex, forced sexual touching, and rape. In the United States, the specific laws concerning sexual assault differ, but they generally regard any sexual activity that is offensive or unwanted as a crime. Besides, sexual assault entails seduction or intimidation of victims through words or other means to lure them into sexual acts against their intentions (Yonack par 1). Victims of sexual assault range from minors to adults. Some states separate the sexual assault crimes into other categories such as child sexual abuse, rape, among others.

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According to the oxbow academy, sexual assault has characteristics that vary with the type of assault, the perpetrator, and the age of victims. Regarding perpetrators, more often than not, sexual assault criminals tend to re-offend on the same victim or other vulnerable persons in society. They are mostly married or in consenting relationships. Regarding rape, victims are never to blame for the assault (Yonack par 10). They are mostly overwhelmed with fear incapacitating them to resist or free themselves. Also, sexual gratification is rarely the primary motivator compared to power, control, or psychological disorders. Concerning child sexual abuse, most offenders are men. Children rarely report the assault and sustain physical, psychological, and emotional harm.

Typical Offenders

Typical sexual offenders are people well known to victims. They may be family members, bosses, colleges, neighbors, and other categories who are rarely strangers. Sexual assault typologies reveal that typical sexual offenders may be grouped according to the assault they propagate; each is linked to a set of victims. According to the Office of Justice Programs, sexual offenders are problematic to categorize since they present heterogeneous characteristics, but they all have similar psychological or criminological needs (Simons par 5). Such needs include emotional regulation, social inclusion, offense related beliefs, defiance, and emotional intelligence. Simon reports that offenders require the various psychological and criminological needs at different ratios, and it is the basis for difficulties in risk assessment and management of sexual assault (par 5).

Typical characterization of offenders may consider child molesters as people with fixated regression, or victims of relationship or gender abuse (Simons n.p). Rapists are people in need of assurance of power, are power assertive, usually sadistic, or have anger retaliation. Online sexual offenders are impulsive, curious, intrusive, and have overwhelming sexual interests or cyber financial pundits. While men are mostly featured as sexual offenders, female sex offenders are co-founders or partners, teachers, or heterosexual guardians.

Theoretical Perspective of Sexual Assault

Some theoretical perspectives regarding sexual assault include trauma theory, sexual aggression perpetration, development psychopathology, and attachment theory. The four perspectives address issues that lead to sexual offenses from historical or development factors, contextual factors, or individual characteristics “Characteristics of Male Perpetrators Who Sexually Assault Female Victims 7). That is, sexual offenders may be motivated by childhood abuse or sexual behaviors they learn in their childhood, perception of peers or role models in their environments, or interpersonal skills and Cognitions.

Notably, different studies have varied rationale on each of the theoretical perspectives due to the heterogeneous nature of offenders’ and victims’ characteristics. According to Diamanduros et al., attachment impairment causes a lack of attenuation to other people’s feelings, distrust, and social isolation (144). Also, a child’s response to traumatic events such as family fights leads to disorganized behaviors such as avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and hyperarousal (Diamanduros et al. 143). Sexual offensiveness is proportional to sexual abuse exposure during childhood, early family relationship regarding attachment and risk factors for various types of abuse, and the support given to children (Diamanduros et al. 150). Hawkins et al. (16) differ from Diamanduros et al. (150) in that childhood trauma does not entirely lead to sexual offensiveness, but both studies agree to the association between psychological issues and perpetration of sexual aggression. Therefore, sexual assault is associated with an individual’s history, their perceptions and characteristics, and contextual factors.

Harley Weinstein Sexual Assault Case


Harvey Weinstein, the sexual offender of interest in this paper, is an American former film producer. Weinstein was born in 1952 in Queens, New York, to Max Weinstein and Max Miriam, a Jewish family. He grew up together with Bob, his younger brother, and both produced rock concerts independently in the 1970s. They also co-founded Miramax and continued in his film production career until the year 2017. He was married to Eve Chilton and Georgina Chapman, who divorced him in 2004 and 2018, respectively.


Sexual Assault Charges

On October 5, 2017, the New York Times reported Weinstein’s sexual assault chronicles for over two decades. Five days later, the New Yorker published an article detailing more women’s sexual assault accusations, which compelled investigation by the authorities. On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested and charged with rape in a hotel in 2013 and forced oral sex in 2004. Other charges were added to him later included forced oral sex in 2006, rape in 1990, 1997, 2006, 2014, 2013, and 2015, and roping and masturbating in front of a woman in 2013 (Feuer par 1-17). All of Weinstein’s victims were female employees, potential employees, assistants, and colleagues in the film industry. In another article, Kantor and Twohey (25) report that Weinstein either forced his way into the victim’s room or invited them for a business talk where he assaulted them. This paper focuses on the 2006 Weinstein assault against Mimi Haleyi.

According to Haleyi, Weinstein took advantage of her condition to lure, assault, and rape her in his Soho apartment (Gene Maddaus et al. par 5) She was broke, homeless, and jobless after the death of her employer, and the collapse of his business. In 2006, Weinstein invited her to meet for a job opportunity, where he talked of massages and Haleyi’s appearances. He later offered a small job and acted normal and respectful until July 10, 2006. Weinstein invited Haleyi to his Soho apartment, where he attacked, forced her into a dark room, pinned her down on a bed, and assaulted her (Gene Maddaus et al. par 15). She reported that Weinstein was strong physically, powerful, and insistent despite her cries and resistance. Haleyi did not report the incident due to fear and shame, and because she thought Weinstein would win in a court of law.

In her testimony, Haleyi reported that Weinstein did no show remorse or any regard to his criminal act. He seemed utterly disconnected and unaware of the gravity of harm the sexual assault caused Haleyi (Gene Maddaus et al. par 28).  She described the offender as one who lacked remorse, acknowledgment, and awareness. After he was found guilty, he kept on saying that he was no guilty, according to ABC News. Therefore, it is likely that Weinstein assaulted Haleyi as he had become used to offending female members of the film industry, and that he did not regard it as a crime.  However, Weinstein told reported that he was remorseful and was trying to be a better person (Mangan 11).

Factors And Predictors That Influenced The Crime

From the theoretical perspective, Weinstein’s assault cases were influenced by sexual aggression perpetration. It is among the behavioral anomaly that may arise from childhood background according to (Diamanduros et al. 143). Other studies associate aggression to attachment impairment, delinquency, attitudes supporting assault, sexual promiscuity, and hostile masculinity (Diamanduros et al. 145; “Characteristics of Male Perpetrators Who Sexually Assault Female Victims 24). More precisely, studies have found through the Confluence Model that sexual aggression is caused by hostile-masculinity pathways and the impersonal-sex pathways (“Characteristics of Male Perpetrators Who Sexually Assault Female Victims 24). His sexual aggression might have been motivated by the following risk factors.

  1. His role and reputation in the film industry (Gene Maddaus et al. par 7).
  2. Coercive sexual fantasies since Haleyi reports that he talked about her appearance in their first meeting (Gene Maddaus et al. par 11).
  3. Hyper-masculinity (Gene Maddaus et al. par 15).
  4. Involvement in abusive relationships.
  5. Lack of emotional support.
  6. General tolerance of sex offenders in the past (Yonack 11).
  7. Power to stop an investigation by the influence of money (Gene Maddaus et al. par 16).
  8. Prevalence of sex crimes in the states (Yonack 11).

In that view, Weinstein may have considered that Haleyi, who needed a job desperately, could not stand a chance in the court of law. According to ABC News, Weinstein claimed that he was among the many men who are confused by sex assault issues (Mangan 20). Also, statistics show that almost 45% of women in the United States experience at least one sexual assault (Yonack 11). That depicts the prevalence of sex crimes in the United States, making it almost normal. Besides, Weinstein’s hyper-masculinity reveals aggression, as depicted by his re-offending since 1990.


Weinstein’s case began on March 27, 2015, after Ambra Battilana reported him to the New York Police for assault. The investigation, further charges, testimonies, and verdict took about five years up to March 11, 2020, and he was sentenced 23 years in prison for sexual assault and rape (Feuer 2; Mangan 1). The sentence was decided by five men and seven women jury, who deliberated after a month’s trial and testimonial from six victims and other witnesses. Weinstein’s prosecution delayed since the first indiction due to his initial denial and change of lawyers.

Impacts of The Case

Weinstein’s case led to a better understanding of sexual assault and its prosecution process in the United States. Notably, Weinstein’s case is a common sexual assault case that is prevalent in the United States but has become so common and difficult to prosecute. The difficulty to prosecute arise from the nature of assaults; most victims are offended by close people in their circles, and often in a manner that is hard to believe without a thorough probe, or the perpetrators are influential and high-profile people like Weinstein (Yonack 11). Yonack explains further that society turns a blind eye to sexual offense since its structures encourage the use of power and manipulation of the vulnerable members. However, Weinstein’s case reveals the extents of sexual assault and breaks the barrier over which the influential sexual offenders or high profile people bypass prosecution. For instance, sexual assault does not only entail rape or other intense acts such as forced oral sex; instead, touching, coercing, or manipulating vulnerable persons is an assault.

Besides, the case raised awareness among the community regarding the prevalence of sexual assault. While statistics reveal high rates of sexual assault, the hashtag #metoo that went viral following Weinstein’s case reveals the factual situation concerning the crime. The #metoo surge may be associated with the celebrity of the brave accusers such as Amber. In that view, many sexual assault victims have come out and declared their experiences, creating awareness of the prevalence of the situation, and the assurance that there is a significant group in the population suffering from the same situation.

Additionally, more victims have come forward to testify their assault in public and courts of law. The coming forward may be associated with the observation that even high profile and influential people line Weinstein are not above the law. In Haleyi’s statement, she revealed her happiness to have found that Weinstein, in his power and influence, was not above the law (Gene Maddaus et al. par 15). Also, society tends to support victims who testified against Weinstein and thousands of others who revealed their assaults through the #metoo hashtag. Therefore, the case attributes to increased victim’s confession and support.

The prosecution has since been using more testimonies more in making verdicts. Notably, juries’ view of cases may influence the prosecution. While the jury process has its underlying benefits, it is prone to societal prejudices and the impression of a particular case. Due to the gravity of Weinstein’s case, the jury was compelled to listen to the victim’s testimonies more closely. Consequently, the prosecution allowed more testimonies regarding sexual assault, to create a feedback loop and a solid reference frame for modern sexual assault cases. Besides, allowing more testimonies may surge the bravely of victims and reveal details of the assault that have not been revealed.

While there are no significant legal changes regarding the sexual assault scenario in the United States, Weinstein’s case created more awareness, surged bravely of victims to come forward and testify, and began a change in the justice system where more victims are allowed to testify excluding the “prior bad acts.”

Punishment and Treatment in Sexual Assault

Most sex offenders are approached in ways that aim to correct their behavior to reduce the chances of re-offending when putting back in society. Punishment and treatment are the most common rehabilitation for sex offenders. While both are arguably effective, one may consider that the offender has inflicted irreversible harm on their victims, and in that case, they deserve punishment from a legal and ethical perspective. However, the offender may be facing a psychological or social problem leading to their offenses, and in that case, they deserve treatment or rehabilitation. Either method must be chosen with prudence, to address both the ethical, legal, and moral considerations of the victim and the offender.

Punishment is the intentional imposition of sanction or burden to a sex offender due to their actions and to protect the common interest in the community. According to Ward and Rose (4), punishment in prisons is an effective method for the correction of sex offenders since it deters them from re-offending, leads them into a rehabilitation process in correction facilities, and encourages other citizens to abide by the law. The main aim of punishment is holding offenders accountable for their crimes. Ward and Rose (7) explain that from the attributive theory perspective, offenders are bound to punishment of the same magnitude as their offenses. However, punishment may be an awful correction approach since it deprives the offender of liberty, and may expose them to significant physical or psychological harm.

In that perspective, the effectiveness of punishment as a correction approach depends on the method of administration. For instance, some forms of punishment may end up inflicting more harm on the offender as opposed to the attributive or consequential theories. Besides, the offender registry is designed to protect the community from sex offenders and not to correct them. Therefore, most often than not, punishment is effective in protecting the community but fails to correct or treat the offender.

Treatment entails the restoration of good health or useful life using therapy, clinical intervention, or education. The primary reason for the treatment of sex offenders is managing or healing their conditions that are associated with sexual assault. In the treatment of sexual offenders, their health and need for restoration to a healthy life is the primary concern, while the benefits to the community are secondary (Ward and Rose 7). Unlike the offender registry, clinicians and psychologists are bound by strict ethical codes in their treatment of sex offenders. However, a study has found that some treatment procedures are harmful and do not abide by the philosophy of offenders as the primary concern (Lösel et al. 1). In that, Lösel et al., and Ward and Rose suggest that a prudent approach through both treatment and controlled punishment may be effective than the reliance of one correction approach. Therefore, both punishment and treatment are effective if used to correct the offender and enhance the safety of the community.


Sexual assault is any sexual act to an individual without their consent, as was conducted by Weinstein to all of his victims. His case helps reflect on the theoretical aspects of sexual assault and the factors that facilitate the crime. While Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison, both appropriate treatment and punishment are effective correction and rehabilitation approaches that may restore his wellbeing, and mitigate recidivism.