NEW YORK: Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault by a New York jury on Monday however acquitted on essentially the most severe charges that would have despatched him to jail for the remainder of his life.
As soon as one in all Hollywood’s strongest producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former manufacturing assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.
He faces as much as 25 years in jail on the sexual assault conviction.
The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a possible life sentence, and first diploma rape of Mann.
The case was a milestone for the #MeToo motion that impressed ladies to go public with misconduct allegations in opposition to highly effective males.
Throughout his trial, Weinstein usually appeared feeble, coming into the courthouse utilizing a walker. He generally leaned on his lead legal professional, Donna Rotunno, for help.
“He is taken some good performing suggestions,” actress Rose McGowan mentioned firstly of the trial on January 6 whereas staging a protest close to the courthouse together with actress Rosanna Arquette and different Weinstein accusers.
Weinstein made his mark with critically acclaimed movies resembling “The English Affected person” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
Greater than 80 ladies, together with well-known actresses, had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching again a long time. He had denied the allegations and mentioned any sexual encounters have been consensual.
Paul Callan, a former New York prosecutor who shouldn’t be concerned within the case, mentioned Weinstein had robust grounds to argue the decision needs to be overturned on attraction due to bias, noting that one of many jurors was the creator of a forthcoming e book on teenage ladies and “predatory” older males.
In the course of the trial, prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had manipulated ladies with guarantees to open doorways in Hollywood, coaxing them to resort rooms or personal residences after which overpowering and violently attacking them.
“The person seated proper there was not only a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist,” Manhattan Assistant District Legal professional Meghan Hast mentioned throughout opening arguments.
Seated on the defence desk, Weinstein usually appeared emotionless, although at instances he regarded intently at his attorneys once they cross-examined his accusers.
‘Jekyll and Hyde’
In the course of the many weeks of trial, the prosecution methodically elicited graphic testimony from a number of accusers, together with Haleyi, who mentioned Weinstein invited her to his SoHo dwelling after she had labored on one in all his tv productions.
After she arrived, Weinstein backed her right into a bed room, held her down on the mattress and compelled himself on her orally, yanking out her tampon, Haleyi advised jurors.
A onetime aspiring actress, Mann mentioned that quickly after assembly Weinstein she entered into an “extraordinarily degrading” relationship with him that by no means included intercourse till, she alleged, he raped her in 2013.
She described Weinstein as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character: He was charming in public however usually confirmed terrifying anger once they have been alone, Mann mentioned.
At one level, she began sobbing uncontrollably on the stand, prompting the decide to finish testimony early for the day.
Weinstein was charged with assaulting Haleyi and Mann, however prosecutors bolstered their case by calling a number of different accusers as witnesses.
Considered one of these ladies, “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, advised jurors Weinstein got here into her condo one winter evening in 1993 or 1994 and raped her.
Although the accusation was too outdated to be charged as a separate crime, prosecutors provided it to point out Weinstein was a repeat sexual offender.
Three different ladies – costume designer Daybreak Dunning, mannequin Tarale Wulff and actress Lauren Younger – testified that they have been enticed into assembly Weinstein for skilled causes after which groped or raped.
Testimony of “prior unhealthy acts” is mostly not allowed in felony trials, however an exception to the legislation allowed prosecutors to name these ladies to point out Weinstein had a specific intention or a signature sample of conduct.
Authorized consultants mentioned the ladies offered highly effective proof that was troublesome for the defence to beat.
Dunning testified that the producer groped her in 2004 and provided her film roles in alternate for three-way intercourse with him and his assistant, which she refused.
Younger, a mannequin and actress, testified that the producer trapped her in a resort toilet in 2013, masturbated in entrance of her whereas groping her breasts, and advised her: “That is what all of the actresses do to make it.”
‘Final line of defence’
All through the case, the defence mentioned remorse drove the accusers to take consensual incidents and reframe them as crimes.
Weinstein’s legal professionals zeroed in on pleasant messages and ongoing contact between the ladies and Weinstein.
Throughout cross-examination of Haleyi, for instance, the defence confirmed her a message she despatched Weinstein signed “plenty of love” after her alleged assault.
Defence legal professionals repeatedly steered that Mann willingly had intercourse with Weinstein to advance her profession.
Weinstein by no means testified in his defence, though he advised reporters he had needed to. Considered one of his legal professionals mentioned the case was too weak to warrant placing him on the stand.
Weinstein’s lawyer Rotunno advised jurors throughout closing arguments that they have been “the final line of defence” in opposition to an “overzealous” prosecution and that girls have been “accountable” for the “decisions they make to additional their very own careers.”
Prosecutors pushed again in opposition to claims that his accusers weren’t credible and the notion that they have been accountable for the alleged assaults.
Assistant District Legal professional Joan Illuzzi mentioned it was irrelevant whether or not they had ongoing contact with Weinstein after the alleged assaults.
Illuzzi rejected a defence declare that Mann had a loving relationship with Weinstein, however mentioned it will not matter if she had been “head over heels in love with him.”
“He nonetheless would not be allowed to rape her on March 18 of 2013,” she mentioned.
Weinstein nonetheless faces sexual assault costs in California, which have been introduced simply hours after his New York rape trial started, and dozens of girls have filed civil lawsuits in opposition to him.