Harvard Law Prof. and Winthrop Dean Ronald Sullivan Joins Harvey Weinstein’s Legal Team

Winthrop House Commencement
Winthrop House Faculty Dean and Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr, pictured here at a 2010 event, will serve on the legal team of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women.

UPDATED: Jan. 24, 2019 at 1:39 p.m.

Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, has hired Harvard Law School professor and Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. to represent him in his Manhattan sexual abuse case.

Sullivan — who heads the Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute — will serve on Weinstein’s legal team with lawyers Jose Baez and Pamela Mackey.

The New York Post first reported the news Wednesday.


Sullivan confirmed he would be joining Weinstein’s legal team along with Baez and Mackey in an email Thursday morning.

“I am pleased to confirm that I, along with Jose Baez and Pamela Mackey, have been retained by Harvey Weinstein,” Sullivan wrote.

Sullivan also wrote that he looks forward to defending Weinstein, pointing to the producer’s continued claim of innocence.

“Mr. Weinstein steadfastly maintains his innocence in this matter and we are looking forward to assisting Mr. Weinstein in his defense,” Sullivan wrote in the email.

Weinstein faces five charges as a result of allegations that he raped one woman and forcibly performed oral sex on another.

Sullivan has taken on several high-profile cases during his legal career, including defending former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in his double murder trial and the family of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014. The Harvard Law professor also defended — along with fellow Law Professor Dehlia Umunna — the black Harvard undergraduate arrested last spring by Cambridge Police, an incident that sparked allegations of police brutality. Sullivan and Umunna later announced that charges would not be filed against the student.

Additionally, both Sullivan and Mackey represented the actress Rose A. McGowan in her 2017 Virginia drug possession case. In October 2017, McGowan publicly accused Weinstein of rape. McGowan told the New York Times that Baez’s decision to represent Weinstein is an “egregious conflict of interest,” though she did not mention Sullivan.

Sullivan wrote in an emailed statement that after consulting with an ethics counsel, he does not believe a conflict of interest exists.

“We were pleased to represent our former client, Ms. Rose McGowan, in a matter unrelated to Mr. Weinstein’s current charges. After consultation with ethics counsel, we are certain no conflict of interest exists. We wish Ms. McGowan well with all her future endeavors,” Sullivan wrote.

Widespread accusations of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct were first reported by the New York Times in October 2017, which detailed allegations against Weinstein that stretched back over three decades. Since then, several more women have come forward with their own allegations. The board of The Weinstein Company — the film studio Harvey Weinstein co-founded with his brother — fired him, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stripped him of his membership.

Weinstein is the subject of several lawsuits, including the Manhattan sexual assault case where Sullivan, Baez, and Mackey will represent him.

The reporting on Weinstein helped spark the #MeToo movement, which has seen countless women come forward and share their own allegations of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein’s Manhattan sexual assault trial is set to begin May 7.

Correction: Jan. 25, 2019

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a judge had cleared the Harvard undergraduate arrested last spring of all charges. In fact, prosecutors chose not to file charges.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.


Recommended Articles