Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape, sex assault, but not predatory sexual assault

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A jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and sexual assault in New York but did not convict him of the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which could have sent him to prison for life.

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

The former movie mogul was on trial in New York, accused of 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.

Former actress Jessica Mann testified that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Both women testified during the trial, as did several others, including The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra. Sciorra alleged that Weinstein raped her in the mid-1990s. Though her claim was too old to prosecute, her testimony was included by prosecutors in their attempt to establish a pattern of abusive behaviour.

Weinstein’s legal team argued all the sexual encounters were consensual. Lead defence lawyer Donna Rotunno said the accusers were reframing their “regret” as rape.

Miriam Haley, represented by lawyer Gloria Allred, right, testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

The jurors, five women and seven men, were tasked with reaching a unanimous verdict. They began deliberations at 11:30 a.m. ET Feb. 18 after being charged by Justice James Burke.

Four days into deliberations, 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 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.

Burke, however, cautioned the jury that the case was “not a referendum on the #MeToo movement.”

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s defence lawyers, attempted to portray the accusers as opportunists who wanted to take advantage of the producer’s industry contacts. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

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.

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.

Assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi, part of the prosecution team, described Weinstein as a ‘predator’ who saw the women as ‘disposable.’ (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

 



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