Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and sex assault in historic #MeToo trial

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 The disgraced Harvey Weinstein
The disgraced Harvey Weinstein

 

DISGRACED movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree sex assault, a New York jury said this morning after days of deliberations in the historic #MeToo case.

The former high-powered mogul could be sent to prison for up to 25 years after the highly-publicized trial.

Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of rape in the 3rd degree in relation to Jessica Mann and criminal sexual assault in the 1st degree in Miriam “Mimi” Haley’s case.

The jury found him not guilty on the two counts of predatory sexual assault alleged by Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra.

After the charges were read out Weinstein was denied bail, handcuffed and taken into police custody.

The predator could now end up on Rikers Island, one of the most notorious prisons in the country, while he awaits sentencing on March 11.

At 11.27 am, the jurors rang the bell to indicate they had reached a verdict before announcing their decision moments later.

The New York Times reported the disgraced mogul was emotionless as the verdict was read out in the Manhattan courtroom today.

 

Annabella Sciorra said Weinstein raped her
Annabella Sciorra said Weinstein raped her

 

The jury on Friday said it was deadlocked before being sent home for the weekend and beginning their fifth day of deliberations this morning.

The panel of seven men and five women told Judge James Burke on Friday that they could not come to a unanimous decision for a few of the charges at the New York City trial.

The jurors continued their deliberations for a few hours today before signalling they’d reached a consensus. They were dismissed shortly after 12pm.

PUBLIC REACTION
Major voices in the trial have been tweeting following the long-awaited conviction.

Padma Lakshmi wrote: “Weinstein terrorized and attacked women for decades. Now he will sit in a prison cell where he belongs.

“Sending so much love, support and most of all gratitude to Annabella Sciorra and all of the women who came forward.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar chimed in with her support for the victims, writing: “This is a victory for the brave survivors who spoke out against Weinstein.

“Our system so often silences survivors and delivers injustice, so we can’t let up in our fight to lift up survivors and hold predators who abuse their power fully accountable.”

Kate Leth wrote: “I’m allowing myself to celebrate Weinstein’s conviction, despite it being 5% of what he should’ve faced, because catharsis just tastes good”

Judd Apatow was quick to remind people that this is only the beginning of the end for Weinstein: “Don’t forget- Harvey Weinstein faces four more charges in Los Angeles. This is just the beginning of holding him accountable.”

BREAKDOWN OF CHARGES
The jury on Friday was reportedly hung on two counts of predatory sexual assault, though the group had already reached a unanimous verdict on other charges after a week of intense discussion.

A total of six women testified at the trial but the charges against Weinstein hinged on allegations made by two women, Mann and Haley.

The most serious counts were the charges of predatory sexual assault, one involving Haley and Sciorra, while the second related to Mann and Sciorra.

The jury came to a unanimous decision of not guilty in relation to both of these charges before considering the lesser charges of criminal sexual assault against Haley.

Jurors decided Weinstein was not guilty on the lesser count of first degree rape regarding Mann, but concluded he was guilty of third-degree rape.

The jury was asked, however, to also consider Sciorra’s allegations that Weinstein raped her back in the ’90s, even though her crime happened too long ago to qualify for prosecution under state law.

Jurors sent a note asking several questions on instructions and legal definitions of the charges within the first 40 minutes of deliberations last Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the jury sent a note asking to re-examine Haleyi’s account, which alleged Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006 after he got her a job working on Project Runway – a fashion show he produced.

By Thursday, the panel still hadn’t reached a verdict after a third day of intense deliberations focused on Sciorra’s January 23 testimony.

The following day, they requested a reread of Sciorra’s allegations about Weinstein before deadlocking as the trial stretched into a second week.

Weinstein, who never took the stand during his trial, denied the five charges against him, which include allegations of rape and sexual assault before today’s verdict.

He pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Haleyi and raping former actress Mann.

There was one count each of first and third-degree rape, one count of a criminal sex act and two counts of predatory sexual assault.

The accusations were just two of many allegations made by dozens of women against the Hollywood producer, which partly drove the momentum behind the #MeToo movement.

 

 

DISTRESSING TESTIMONY
Prosecutors built their case on graphic and distressing testimony from Weinstein’s accusers – including three other women who are not part of the criminal case but were allowed to take the witness stand because they claim he used the same tactics on them.

Under New York law, a person can be found guilty of predatory sexually assault if they committed certain sex offenses in the past – even if it doesn’t result in criminal charges.

During the trial, his defense team claimed his actions consensual and said the prosecution has failed to present any forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts.

Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno claimed Weinstein’s victims “made up” their accounts because they’re too embarrassed to admit they had consensual sex with him.

On October 5, 2017, The New York Times published a story detailing allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein.

Three days later, he was sacked by the board of his company as allegations from more women are published in various news outlets.

By May 2018, Weinstein was charged with rape and several accounts of sexual abuse against two women.

Weinstein’s New York trial was due to start in September 2019, but got pushed back to January.

The same day Weinstein’s trial started in New York, he was charged Los Angeles with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents in 2013.