Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape, sex assault, but acquitted of predatory sexual assault

A New York jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and sexual assault in a landmark case for the #MeToo movement, but the panel did not convict the former movie mogul of predatory sexual assault, which could have sent him to prison for life.

Weinstein, 67, was on trial for raping former actress Jessica Mann, now 34, in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.

He was also accused of forcibly performing oral sex in 2006 on former production assistant Miriam Haley, now 42, after getting her a job on the reality fashion series Project Runway. Haley changed her surname from Haleyi in 2017, after first going public with her accusation against Weinstein.

Weinstein was convicted of: rape in the third degree (involving Mann) and criminal sexual act in the first degree (involving Haley).

A conviction of rape in the third degree means the jury recognized the sexual encounter was non-consensual, even if they didn’t believe the victim was being physically or verbally threatened. It carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. There is no minimum sentence for this type of conviction. 

For the charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree, the range for sentencing is between five and 25 years. 

Weinstein was convicted of third-degree rape of Jessica Mann, left, and first-degree sexual assault of Miriam Haley. (Getty Images; The Associated Press)

“Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault and trick, humiliate and silence his victims,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said at a news conference after the verdict was announced.

“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America … It is a new day, because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed.”

Weinstein will be required to register as a sex offender under New York law. 

Judge James Burke ordered Weinstein taken to jail immediately. Court officers handcuffed him and put their arms under his, leading him unsteadily out of the courtroom through a side door without the use of the walker he relied on for much of the trial.

Weinstein was later taken from the courthouse in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher in his suit, in what was believed to be a precautionary measure, and taken to a locked unit at Bellevue Hospital.

The judge said he will ask that Weinstein, who had been free on bail since his arrest nearly two years ago, be held in the jail’s infirmary after his lawyers said he needs medical attention following unsuccessful back surgery.

Sentencing was set for March 11.

WATCH: Weinstein will ‘serve some substantial time,’ says lawyer and legal analyst Joe Marrone

Joe Marrone, a Philadelphia lawyer, believes ‘aggravating factors’ could push Weinstein’s  sentence higher than the minimum. 4:47

No conviction on predatory sexual assault

Weinstein had also faced two charges of predatory sexual assault. These charges tied Mann and Haley’s separate accounts to the allegation that Weinstein previously had raped The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra in the mid-1990s. 

Though her claim was too old to prosecute, Sciorra’s testimony was included by prosecutors in their attempt to establish a pattern of abusive behaviour. Other accusers also took the stand.

Weinstein was acquitted of:

  • Predatory sexual assault (involving Mann, in connection with Sciorra). 
  • Predatory sexual assault (involving Haley, in connection with Sciorra).
  • Rape in the first degree (involving Mann).

Weinstein’s legal team argued all the sexual encounters were consensual. 

The jurors, five women and seven men, were tasked with reaching a unanimous verdict. They began deliberations last Tuesday, after being instructed by Burke. 

On Friday, the jury sent a note to the judge, suggesting they were unanimous on three of the five charges but deadlocked on the most serious: predatory sexual assault. Justice Burke encouraged them to continue until they reached a consensus.

The jury returned the verdict Monday several hours after starting a fifth day of deliberations.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Hena Singh on the message sent by the verdict

Lawyer says the Harvey Weinstein guilty verdicts are going to be vindication for a lot of women. 5:01

More than 80 accusers 

The case has been viewed as a significant marker for the progress of the #Metoo movement in a space that has long been challenging for alleged victims to navigate: the criminal justice system. 

It was the allegations against Pulp Fiction producer Weinstein, made public in October of 2017, that sparked a global reckoning on sexual harassment and assault. 

However, while more than 80 women have since accused Weinstein of misconduct, the New York trial only involved a small group of them. The jury was instructed to reach a verdict based solely on the evidence presented in court.

“We will absolutely be appealing. The fight is not over,” defence lawyer Donna Rotunno told reporters outside the courtroom on Monday, adding that an appeal would be filed “as soon as possible.”

More than 20 of the women who publicly came forward with allegations against Weinstein expressed relief at the verdict during a conference call on Monday afternoon. Speaking both inside and outside the U.S., they shared their gratitude and respect for the women who had testified in the New York case.

“Today is a powerful day and a huge step forward in collective healing,” actress Rose McGowan said.

Rosanna Arquette, at microphone, is joined by fellow Harvey Weinstein accusers (from left) Louise Godbold, Dominique Huett, Sarah Ann Masse, Paula Williams, Rose McGowan and Lauren Sivan at the start of the former producer’s rape trial in January. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

“The era of impunity for powerful men who rape people is over,” said Mira Sorvino, an Oscar-winner who has said her career suffered after she rebuffed Weinstein. “He will rot in jail as he deserves, and we will begin to have some closure.”

Actress Rosanna Arquette called the verdict “vindication for all the women he has harmed.”

In addition to acknowledging the accusers, Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the #MeToo movement, singled out the jurors “who worked worked with an incredibly narrow and unjust set of laws governing sexual assault” and the need for further change in the justice system.

“This case reminds us that sexual violence thrives on unchecked power and privilege. The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world,” she said in a statement.

Weinstein, who produced multiple Academy Award-winning films such as Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech, still faces four criminal charges — including rape and sexual battery — in Los Angeles. They stem from two separate incidents alleged to have taken place over two days in February 2013, the same week as that year’s Oscars.

His arraignment in Los Angeles was to take place sometime after the New York trial had concluded.

CBC | Arts News

You must be logged in to post a comment Login