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Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape in mixed verdict

The jury returned a guilty verdict only in the case of one of the four women Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting or raping.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A jury in Los Angeles convicted disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein on rape charges Monday in his second criminal trial since he became the poster child of the #MeToo movement.

Jurors convicted the 70-year-old former Miramax Films boss of raping an Italian model in 2013 after barging into her hotel room. The jury deadlocked on charges that Weinstein raped Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, when she was an aspiring filmmaker and sexual assault of an aspiring screenwriter. They acquitted him of sexual assaulting a massage therapist in his hotel room.

Weinstein faces as long as 18 years in prison on three charges — forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object and forcible rape related to one victim, who was identified only as Jane Doe 1 during the trial. LA County Superior Court Judge Judge Lisa Lench declared a mistrial for the charges the jury couldn't reach a verdict on.

Weinstein's attorneys didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict.

This was the second sexual assault trial for the fallen industry titan, with the first in New York ending in a guilty verdict and a sentence of 23 years in prison. That verdict was upheld on appeal this year, but New York's top court has agreed to review it as well.

Four women testified at the LA trial about how they were assaulted by Weinstein after he had won their trust by showing interest in their careers and offering to help him. The assaults all took place in hotel rooms, either Weinstein's where the women were lured under the pretense of a business meeting, and in the case of one victim to provide him a professional massage service, or in their hotel rooms after Weinstein had managed to gain entry.

Four other women testified about assaults that occurred outside LA County and that Weinstein hasn't been charged with, but that supported the prosecution's theory about how he used his power in the entertainment industry to force them into sex against their will.

His lawyers argued at trial that the women who have come forward and accused Weinstein since the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017 are trying to rewrite history and that they engaged in consensual, transactional sex with him as part of the Hollywood "casting couch" culture. They were "fame and fortune seekers" who were hoping to get Weinstein's support for their careers in exchange for sex, Weinstein's attorneys argued.

Jane Doe 1, the Italian actress and model, was the first victim to take the stand almost two months ago. She testified how Weinstein showed up at her hotel room after midnight when she was in LA for the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival in February 2013, where she briefly met him.

In often tearful testimony she recalled how Weinstein knocked on her hotel room and asked loudly to be let him because he wanted to talk to her even though she had previously, when the front desk had called to let her know she had visitor, said she didn't want to talk with him at that hour.

Doe 1, who was married and had three children, said she was confused and didn't understand what Weinstein was doing in her room and how he found out where she was staying at all. Weinstein suggested she give him a massage but she asked him to leave. Rather than leave however, Jane Doe 1 testified, Weinstein reclined on the bed and undid his pants, held her hand, and began to touch himself.

Weinstein then proceeded to take off his pants and forced her to perform oral sex on him, she told the jury. She was crying and choking but Weinstein didn't seem to care, she said. At that point in her testimony, Doe 1 sobbed on the witness stand and the judge had to halt the trial for the day.

“Harvey Weinstein forever destroyed a part of me that night in 2013 and I will never get that back,” Jane Doe 1 said in a statement after the verdict was returned. “The criminal trial was brutal and Weinstein’s lawyers put me through hell on the witness stand, but I knew I had to see this through to the end, and I did. I hope Weinstein never sees the outside of a prison cell during his lifetime.” 

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