How Attendees at the TIME100 Gala Reacted to the Overturned Rape Conviction of Harvey Weinstein

The world’s most influential leaders gathered in New York City on Thursday to celebrate the annual TIME100 list. While the night was a celebration, the day was also a sobering moment of reflection for many following the announcement that morning that disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 New York rape conviction was overturned; Weinstein’s case was a landmark lawsuit that helped accelerate the #MeToo movement.

For some attendees, like media personality Don Lemon, the news was heavy, but ultimately an opportunity for the country’s justice system to live up to its values.

“I’m not a fan [of Weinstein], but I will say, it’s our justice system and if they found credible evidence that something happened with the judge or the trial during the trial, then just like any other citizen, he should be treated equally under the law,” Lemon told TIME, later drawing a parallel between Weinstein’s right to a fair trial and Donald Trump’s current hush money lawsuit.

For others, like activist and astronaut Mae Jemison, who helped craft the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act after surviving her own assault, the overturned conviction was a disheartening reminder that there’s still so much more work to do when it comes to stopping sexual violence.

“We all know as survivors that the courts fail us,” Jemison told TIME. “I want everyone, especially survivors, to know that you’re not alone, that we have been fighting, that we believe them and even when we have these setbacks, we know our truth. We will get through this.”

2024 TIME100 honoree and Human Rights Coalition president DeRay Mckesson said that she was using the current moment as an affirmation of the power of community and a reminder that any movement often includes setbacks on the way to progress.

“I hope that anyone who is a survivor who is watching at this moment right now looks up and knows that there’s a community of people that have their back,” Mckesson told TIME. “There are people that are willing to fight for them and the way that progress works is that sometimes we make advancements and sometimes we get pushed back.”

Former TIME100 honoree Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, agreed with Mckesson’s belief that any movement towards a brighter future would encounter challenges but that, ultimately, the power of it came from working together in numbers.

“This is a movement because we stand together and we move together,” Burke told TIME. “I think that when people see hashtags go viral, they misunderstand what movements are—movements are made of people. And the one thing the survivor movement has is a lot of people. What we’ve seen historically is that movements always have disappointments, so while I was disappointed in what I saw today, I don’t see it as a setback. It means we have more work to do.”

However, for TIME100 honoree and writer E. Jean Carroll, who had a landmark win last year when a jury found Trump liable for defamation and sexual assault for a case she brought against him for an alleged rape in the ’90s, the news was visceral and sobering.

“This will not stand,” Carroll told TIME. “But it’s a punch to the gut.”

The TIME100 Gala is TIME’s annual celebration of the TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people. The Gala brings together icons, leaders, change-makers, and celebrities from across industries and nations for one lively evening of meaningful dialogue and celebration. This year’s Gala features live performances from Dua Lipa and Fantasia Barrino, two honorees on the 2024 TIME100 list.

TIME is teaming up with ABC to bring viewers inside the exclusive TIME100 Gala with a special television event. TIME100: The World’s Most Influential People, produced in partnership with P&G, airs Sunday, May 12 at 10 p.m. EDT on ABC, and the next day on Hulu, featuring host Taraji P. Henson and appearances by Patrick Mahomes, Maya Rudolph, and more.

The TIME100 Gala was presented by, Citi, Merck, Northern Data Group, Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and Verizon.