Harvey Weinstein found guilty in landmark #MeToo moment

Weinstein, 67, convicted of rape and sexual assault against two women, sealing his dizzying fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to archvillain of #MeToo campaign.

Harvey Weinstein was convicted on Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.

The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.

However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner, who produced films including “Shakespeare In Love”, was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.

He could face 25 years in jail. The sentencing is set for March 11.

“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America, I believe, and this is a new day,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters.

“Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for the crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously and at great risk made that happen.”

“Rape is rape. It’s rape even if there is no physical evidence, and even if it happened a long time ago,” Vance said while praising women who testified.

Weinstein’s lawyers said they will appeal.

“Harvey is very strong. Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man,” defence attorney Donna Rotunno said.

“He knows that we will continue to fight for him, and we know that this is not over.”

Judgment hailed

The Time’s Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking “a new era of justice.”

“Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There’s no going back,” it said in a statement.

The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.

The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.

But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.

One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.

Ferocious cross-examination

Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

Weinstein’s team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.

The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.

The state’s case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.

Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.

He was also charged with abusing former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.

The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.

For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.

Eyes on LA

Sciorra’s allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.

Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.

Judge Burke dismissed the jury just afternoon on Monday, thanking them for their “care” and “attention.”

Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young’s allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.

Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.

 

 

 

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