Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape but acquitted of top criminal charges
Harvey Weinstein, the once-powerful Hollywood mogul, was found guilty of rape in the third degree Monday but acquitted on the two most serious criminal charges, capping a landmark trial of the #MeToo era.
The jury in New York convicted Weinstein, 67, of third-degree rape of Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, as well as a count of criminal sexual act in the first degree against Mimi Haley, a former “Project Runway” production assistant.
But the jury found him not guilty on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which each carried a sentence of up to life in prison. He was also acquitted on a count of first-degree rape against Mann.
He now faces a sentence of five to 25 years on the top count.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for five days, causing anxiety among his accusers. The jurors appeared solemn and stared straight ahead as they entered the courtroom before reading the verdict.
In all, more than 80 women have accused the Oscar-winning producer behind “Pulp Fiction” and “The King’s Speech” of sexual assault and harassment going back decades, though the charges were based primarily on allegations from Haley and Mann, who each took the stand to describe their experiences in oftentimes graphic and emotional terms.
But in more than a month inside a Manhattan court, prosecutors called four other accusers as witnesses who could testify about Weinstein’s alleged pattern of serial abuse, including “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused him of raping her in the early 1990s.
Weinstein, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, pleaded not guilty in the case and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex. His lawyers argued the trial was an example of the #MeToo movement having run amok, and repeatedly attempted to raise doubts about his accusers’ credibility and motivations in coming forward.
He was handcuffed and taken into custody just after noon ET. He is slated to be sentenced March 11. Arthur Aidala, one of Weinstein’s attorneys, told reporters outside the courthouse that his client plans to appeal, describing him as “stoic and powerful” in the wake of the verdict.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office prosecuted the case and who sat in the courtroom through much of the trial, said at a news conference that the women who testified “changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence,” later adding that the survivors of sexual abuse “weren’t just brave, they were heroic.”
Vance also hailed what he characterized as a “new day” in the legal repercussions for sexual abusers.
“It is a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed,” Vance said. “Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault and trick, humiliate and silence his victims.”
The flood of allegations against Weinstein, first reported in October 2017 by investigative journalists at The New York Times and The New Yorker, fueled the global reckoning over sexual misconduct by powerful men in entertainment, the news media, finance and other high-profile industries.
Sciorra released a statement following the verdict saying that while she hoped for “continued righteous outcomes that bring absolute justice, we can never regret breaking the silence.”
“My testimony was painful but necessary,” Sciorra said. “I spoke for myself and with the strength of the eighty plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart.”
Silence Breakers, a group that represents prominent Weinstein accusers — including actresses Ashley Judd and Rosanna Arquette — praised the courage of the women who testified.
“While it is disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator,” the group said in a statement. “This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out.”
The trial centered on detailed testimony from Haley and Mann, who each recounted that Weinstein lured them with promises to help their careers and forced himself on them as they tried to fight back.
Haley alleged Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Manhattan apartment in 2006. Mann broke down sobbing as she said Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. She told jurors she believed he injected his penis to induce an erection before he assaulted her.
The prosecutors, meanwhile, attempted to paint the once-mighty film executive as a sexual predator who harassed and assaulted women with impunity, using his reputation as a Hollywood power broker to muzzle his alleged victims.
The defense, for its part, attempted to portray the plaintiffs as consenting participants in sexual activity. Weinstein’s lawyers zeroed in on email correspondence after the alleged assaults that they described as friendly or “loving,” and otherwise suggested the alleged sexual activity was transactional.
Weinstein, who did not take the stand in his own defense, entered the Manhattan courthouse most days hunched over a walker because of what has been described as back problems. He sometimes stared straight at the jury box and occasionally reacted to testimony, lowering his head when Mann described what she characterized as his abnormal genitalia.
The end of the New York trial does not spell the end of legal action against Weinstein. He also faces a sex crimes case in Los Angeles, where he is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents on two consecutive days in 2013. He has yet to enter a plea in that case.