Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul who faced multiple charges of sexual assault in a New York City court, was found guilty on two of five potential counts by a jury on Monday, and will spend the next 16 days in jail while he awaits sentencing.
Weinstein was convicted of a criminal sex act in the first degree and rape in the third degree, based on testimony from Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley and actress Jessica Mann. He was acquitted on two charges of predatory sexual assault — including one based on allegations from Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra — and rape in the first degree. He will be sentenced on March 11, and could serve more than 25 years in prison.
In a statement to the press, Time’s Up president and CEO Tina Tchen said the verdict “marks a new era of justice” for “all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work.” She also praised accusers Haley, Mann, Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young before stressing her stance in solidarity with all assault survivors.
“The jury’s verdict sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement. In two short years, Time’s Up helped pass new laws to help survivors achieve justice, helped thousands of individuals take on harassers and abusers in court, and changed the game when it comes to how matters of safety and equity in the workplace are understood,” Tchen said. “While we celebrate this historic moment, our fight to fix the broken system that has allowed serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein to abuse women in the first place continues. Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There’s no going back.”
The jury officially began deliberations Tuesday, Feb. 18. By Friday, the 12 members (seven men and five women) relayed to the judge that they were deadlocked on the most serious charges against Weinstein, asking permission to be hung on two counts of predatory sexual assault. The judge asked them to keep working until all charges received a unanimous verdict.
Weinstein still faces sex crime charges in Los Angeles for allegedly “raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced in January.
The former head of The Weinstein Company and the subject of dozens of sexual harassment and assault claims had faced five total counts: two for predatory sexual assault, one for first-degree rape, one for third-degree rape, and one for a criminal sex act. The charges stemmed from claims that the Hollywood producer raped an aspiring actress in a NYC hotel room in 2013, raped Sciorra at her apartment in the mid-’90s, and forcibly performed oral sex on Haley at his own apartment in 2006.
Weinstein maintained that all sexual encounters were consensual and did not testify throughout the trial. However, multiple accusers outside of these three cases took the stand as a strategy by the prosecutors to establish a pattern of behavior Weinstein allegedly used to exert power and dominance over victims.
In what was often emotional testimony, the women detailed instances of how Weinstein allegedly lured them to hotel rooms in New York and Los Angeles under the pretense of discussing their careers before assaulting them. Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno pressed some of the women for certain specifics they could not remember, including exact dates of the alleged assaults, and displayed emails between them and Weinstein in an attempt to illustrate a warm relationship.
In her closing remarks, Rotunno asked the jury members to use their “New York City common sense” when deciding the case and argued that the prosecutors came up with a “sinister tale” in fighting for a conviction. “The irony is that they are the producers and they are writing the script,” Rotunno said. “In their universe, women are not responsible [for their behavior].” Conversely, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon called Weinstein “an abusive rapist.”
“What is this case about? Is it about the power, manipulation, and abuse — is it merely about the power of abuse? … Or is it that the defendant was the master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on?” Illuzzi-Orbon said, as reported by Variety. “Or did he feel like he had a surefire insurance policy that the witnesses wanted to get into his universe? They don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on, demoralized, and then, yes, raped and abused by the defendant.”