Breaking Down the Harvey Weinstein Verdict
A jury in New York found former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein guilty of two felony sex crimes involving two different women: Committing a criminal sex act in the first degree, and rape in the third degree. However, the jury also ruled that Weinstein was not guilty of three other more serious charges against him: two counts of predatory assault, and rape in the first degree.
After the verdict was read, Justice James M. Burke, who presided over the trial, told the court that Weinstein would be sent to jail until his sentencing on March 11th. He is currently at Riker’s Island in New York City. Meanwhile, Weinstein’s lead defense attorney Donna Rotunno said during a news conference that they will “absolutely be appealing” and added that “the fight is not over.” Here’s what you need to know about today’s verdict and Weinstein’s upcoming trial in Los Angeles.
The charges against Weinstein
Weinstein, 67, faced a total of five charges of sexual misconduct in New York City. He was convicted of one criminal sex act in the first degree against against former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley (who formerly went by the name “Mimi Haleyi”) for an incident in 2006 when he forcibly performed oral sex on her. Weinstein was also convicted of rape in the third degree raping actor Jessica Mann in a hotel in 2013. In New York state, rape in the third degree involves having forced sexual intercourse with someone over the age of 17 without their consent, or if they are incapable of consent. A conviction of a criminal sex act in the first degree carries between five and 25 years of prison time, while being found guilty of rape in the third degree comes with a sentence ranging from probation to four years in prison.
But Weinstein was acquitted of three of the five charges made against him. First, he was acquitted of two counts of predatory sexual assault based on the testimony made by Haley, Mann and Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra. In New York State, predatory sexual assault occurs when someone commits a sex crime — like rape in the first degree, or aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree — and then during or after the incident, either causes serious physical injury to the victim, or uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument.
He was also found not guilty of rape in the first degree for an incident where he allegedly attacked and then forcibly raped Mann. In New York State, a person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person either by forcible compulsion, with a person who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless, or someone less than 11-years-old, or someone who is less than 13-years-old when the actor is 18 years old or more.
In addition to Haley, Mann and Sciorra, three other women — Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young — testified during the trial. Their accounts were permitted in order to demonstrate Weinstein’s history of abuse, according to prosecutors.
At least 100 women have accused Weinstein of a variety of sexual misconduct and crimes — including rape — since 2017, but most of the claims happened far enough in the past that they were not eligible for a trial under statutes of limitations in both New York and California. Weinstein has repeatedly denied all of the accusations of non-consensual sex. Furthermore, during the trial, Rotunno argued that the women accusing Weinstein of sexual misconduct willingly had sex with him in an attempt to help their careers in the entertainment industry.
The reaction to the verdict
As one of the most prominent figures accused of sexual misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement, the reactions to the announcement of Weinstein’s verdict have been swift. In a statement she shared on Twitter, Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo Movement, thanked the “survivors who courageously testified,” and jury that “voted to find an unremorseful Harvey Weinstein guilty.”
“This case reminds us that sexual violence thrives on unchecked power and privilege,” Burke said in the statement. “The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world.”
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said at a news conference that the verdict means that Weinstein was finally held accountable for the crimes he committed. “The women, who came forward courageously and at great risk, made that happen,” Vance said. “Weinstein is a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims.”
But not everyone was pleased with the verdict. Andrew Wyatt, a representative for Bill Cosby, said there’s “no way” Weinstein could have received a “fair and impartial trial” because the jury was not sequestered. Cosby, 82, is currently incarcerated at a prison in Pennsylvania after being found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April 2018.
Up next: Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles
Weinstein also faces criminal action in a separate case in Los Angeles, where he has been charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. If convicted of these charges, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in prison. All of the charges are based on accounts made by two unidentified women who have accused Weinstein of attacking them in February 2013. In fact, both incidents occurred within one day of each other. On February 18th, 2013, Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel and raped an Italian model and actor after forcing his way inside her room. Then, the following evening, he is accused of trapping another woman in a hotel bathroom in Beverly Hills, grabbing her breasts and masturbating. (He had denied any wrongdoing.)
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement on January 6th, 2020. A start date for Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial has not yet been set, a rep for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office told Rolling Stone.
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