Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty of 3rd-Degree Rape

MANHATTAN (CN) — More than two years after allegations of a decades-long pattern of sexual predation upended his Hollywood legacy, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty Monday on two of the less serious counts against him.

While acquitted on rape in the first degree and two counts of predatory sexual assault, the 67-year-old producer was convicted just before noon this morning of committing a criminal sexual act and rape in the third degree.

Weinstein faces 4 to 25 years in prison, with sentencing set for March 11. He had been free on bail since his 2018 arrest, but the producer was remanded into custody by Justice James Burke following the verdict Monday. As court officers escorted him out of the room, Weinstein walked with a heavy limp, leaving behind the walker he has taken to court every day.

Harvey Weinstein arrives at the courthouse in Manhattan on Monday. Jurors this morning found the producer guilty of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The verdict came on the fifth day of deliberations in Manhattan Supreme Court, from a jury consisting of seven men — six of them white and one black — as well as five women, two black, two white and one Latina. On Friday, the jury sent a note indicating that they were deadlocked on counts one and three — both of which they found him not guilty of today. On the remaining counts, the jury said Friday they had reached a unanimous verdict.

The verdict came around 11:30 Monday morning, announced by the male jury foreperson, who wore a black shirt and a bow tie. February sunshine blasted through the courtroom windows onto a wan Weinstein, who sat hunched in his chair as the jurors filed in and then out, most without glancing at him. Multiple court officers stood behind Weinstein in the well, joined by over a dozen others posted near doors and along the walls of the courtroom.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance celebrated the mixed verdict in a courthouse press conference, praising the female prosecutors and the witnesses in the case as women “who have changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence.

“These are eight women who pulled our criminal justice system into the 21st century, by declaring that rape is rape and sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter what,” Vance said.

Thanking his team and the jury, as well as the survivors of Weinstein’s violence, Vance called Weinstein a “vicious serial sexual predator.

“These survivors weren’t just brave — they were heroic,” the district attorney said. Weinstein “did everything he could to silence the survivors, but they refused to be silenced,” he continued. “They spoke from their hearts, and they were heard.”

The two counts of predatory sexual assault were class A-II felonies that would have carried a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life term of imprisonment. Aspiring actress Jessica Mann and former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi were the complaining accusers behind those accounts, but prosecutors sought to establish a pattern by eliciting testimony from four women including “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra about their own encounters.

Donna Rotunno leaves court in Manhattan on Monday after a jury pronounced her client, Harvey Weinstein, guilty of third-degree rape. (CNS photo/AMANDA OTTAWAY)

Ultimately the jury found Weinstein guilty of rape in the third degree against Mann and of assaulting Haleyi in 2006. Deliberations last week featured a re-reading of Sciorra’s trial testimony as well as a re-reading of the corroborating testimony from Sciorra’s friend Rosie Perez.

 

When asked whether he was disappointed with the mixed verdict, Vance said he was not. He called the case challenging and said that it had shattered myths around sexual assault.

“I hope that survivors will see that prosecutors, justices and juries will believe them,” Vance said.

Gloria Allred, a famed feminist attorney who represents Young, was present in the front row of the courtroom gallery for most days of the Manhattan trial.

After a standoff with the celebrity attorney over the microphones outside the courthouse, Weinstein defense lawyer Donna Rotunno refused to speak with reporters and climbed into the back of a black SUV.

Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala meanwhile told reporters that there are “several issues” the defense could address going forward.

“Sure as I’m a bald man, there will be an appeal,” Aidala said, his head gleaming in the sun.

Since the scandal first erupted, the twice-married father of five Weinstein has been adamant that any sexual contact he had with his many accusers was consensual.

The monthlong trial wrapped with closing arguments just before the Presidents Day weekend. Rotunno kept reporting on the case going meanwhile with a Newsweek editorial titled “Jurors in My Client Harvey Weinstein’s Case Must Look Past the Headlines.”

Before he instructed the jury last Tuesday, Justice Burke took aim at the maneuver by imposing a gag order on Weinstein’s defense team, whom he scolded to control the “tentacles of your public relations juggernaut.”

DA Vance had promised two years ago in announcing the grand jury indictment of Weinstein that his office would try the case “not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs.”

Flanked by prosecutors Joan Illuzzi-Orborn on his right and Meghan Hast, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance addresses the press after Harvey Weinstein’s guilty verdict Monday, Feb. 24. (CNS photo/AMANDA OTTAWAY)

The prosecutor turned prognosticator as well with his warning that Weinstein’s defense would launch attacks on the credibility of the accusers and on the integrity of the legal process. “We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand,” Vance said at the time.

As the burgeoning #MeToo movement brought scrutiny of Weinstein to a crescendo in 2017, Vance’s office faced criticism for its failure to bring charges years earlier when an Italian model first came forward with allegations of unwanted groping.

Creating the appearance of a conflict of interest, campaign records showed that the prosecutor had dropped the Weinstein investigation after accepting more than $24,0000 from one of Weinstein’s attorneys at the time.

It came to light around the same time that Vance accepted campaign donations from Marc Kasowitz, an attorney for the Trump family, had killed a 2012 criminal investigation of Trump siblings Donald Jr. and Ivanka.

In the Weinstein case, press interest often overwhelmed the 70 courtroom seats that Judge Burke had reserved for reporters to cover the trial. To win admission, dozens of journalists lined up daily before daybreak in the winter cold temperatures outside of the Art Deco-designed Manhattan criminal courts building.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orborn spent three hours delivering closing arguments for the prosecution on Feb. 14.

“This is about power, manipulation, and abuse,” Illuzzi-Osborn told jurors, detailing how Weinstein allegedly used his industry power to attract women into his orbit and then trapped them into engaging in unwanted sex, both figuratively by that same professional stature and literally by his height and heft.

A day earlier, Rotunno spent nearly five hours delivering the defense’s closing argument. She painted the six women who testified against Weinstein at trial as liars and opportunists who had engaged in consensual sex with Weinstein for their personal and professional gain.

Feminist attorney Gloria Allred, in a red coat, leaves court Monday afternoon after a New York jury returned guilty verdicts against Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno, wearing a black coat on the left, departed the courthouse when Allred refused to let her speak first to awaiting reporters. (CNS photo/AMANDA OTTAWAY)

Weinstein is one of more than 40 men accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era to have hired Rotunno for their defense.

The lawyer painted the movement as a witch hunt, saying it left Weinstein prejudged as a “predator” and stripped of his constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.

In an interview with The New York Times published a week before the defense rested their case, Rotunno made references to how the culture surrounding #MeToo accusations robs all women of equality and agency.

“Women cannot be equal if women don’t start taking on equal risk. Women want men to take on all the risk. They want to then put themselves in whatever situation they’re in, and then walk out and say, oh my God, I had no idea that was going to happen to me,” Rotunno told Megan Twohey, one of the Times reporters who broke the Weinstein story in October 2017.

“You can’t have it both ways,” she said. “And when you’re put in circumstances that you think are questionable, or negative, or you don’t want to be in, or you think this is the only way I’m going to get the job, we know that that’s ridiculous.”

Later in the interview, Rotunno said that she personally had never been sexually assaulted because she “would never put myself in that position.”

Rotunno proposed that women need to take “precautions” when dating and suggested that men should ask sexual partners to sign consent forms.

Bill Cosby was the first big celebrity to go on trial in the era of the #MeToo movement. The actor-comedian was 81 when he was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for a sexual assault that occurred in 2004.

In addition to the New York case, Weinstein is charged in Los Angeles with groping Lauren Young in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills in 2013. He faces up to 28 years in prison on the two counts in the California case.

Under precedent from the 1901 case People v. Molineux, prosecutors called Young as a witness in the New York trial to testify about prior uncharged crimes.

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