Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape in Los Angeles trial
After a month-long trial and nine days of deliberations, a Los Angeles jury found Harvey Weinstein guilty Monday of the rape and sexual assault of just one of the four accusers he charged with molestation.
But the three counts involving an Italian actor and model, known at trial as Jane Doe 1, still dealt a serious blow to the disgraced film mogul and delivered another #MeToo moment of reckoning five years after he had become a magnet for the movement.
Weinstein, 70, who is serving two years after a 23-year rape and sexual assault charge in New York that is pending appeal, could face up to 24 years in California if convicted.
He was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct involving the woman, who said he showed up uninvited at her hotel room door during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013.
“Harvey Weinstein destroyed a part of me forever that night in 2013 and I will never get that back. The criminal trial was brutal and Weinstein’s attorneys put me through hell on the stand, but I knew I had to see it through to the end, and I did,” the woman said in a statement after the verdict. “I hope Weinstein never sees the outside of a prison cell in his lifetime.”
Weinstein was cleared of sexual harassment charges by a massage therapist who treated him at a hotel in 2010.
The jury was unable to rule on charges involving two prosecutors, specifically rape and sexual assault charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom. A mistrial was declared on these charges.
Weinstein looked down at the table and seemed to put his face in his hands as the first charges were read out. He rejoiced as the rest of the verdict was read.
“Harvey is obviously disappointed with the verdict. He knows what happened and what never happened,” Weinstein’s spokesman Juda Engelmayer said in an email, saying there was a strong basis for an appeal of the convictions. “Harvey is grateful for the jury’s work on the other counts and he is determined to continue his legal challenges to ultimately prove his innocence.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón applauded the prosecutors for their courage in testifying in the case and said in a statement he was disappointed with the split verdict but hoped it would bring “some measure of justice to the victims.” bring
“Harvey Weinstein will never be able to rape another woman. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs,” Siebel Newsom said in a statement. “Throughout the trial, Weinstein’s attorneys used sexism, misogyny and bullying tactics to intimidate, demean and ridicule us survivors. The process was a stark reminder that we as a society are busy.”
Siebel Newsom’s intense and dramatic testimony, in which she described being raped by Weinstein in a hotel room in 2005, brought the trial to its most dramatic moments. But only eight of the 12 jurors agreed to find Weinstein guilty on those charges.
The jury was deadlocked 10-2 over a sexual battery count involving Lauren Young, the only accuser to testify in both Weinstein trials. She said she was a model who wanted to be an actor and screenwriter and was meeting Weinstein about a screenplay in 2013, when he locked her in a hotel bathroom, groping her and masturbating in front of her.
Lacking forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts on years of allegations, the case hinged heavily on the stories and credibility of the four women who were the focus of the indictment.
The women’s stories echoed the claims of dozens of others who have surfaced since Weinstein became a #MeToo lightning rod, beginning with stories in The New York Times in 2017. A film based on that coverage, “She Said,” was made during of the trial was published and the jury was repeatedly warned not to see it.
It was the defense that made #MeToo an issue during the trial, but she stressed that none of the four women went to authorities until the movement targeted Weinstein.
Defense attorneys said two of the women – including one he would have found guilty of rape – lied outright about their encounters with Weinstein. They said the other two had had “100% consensual” sexual interactions, which they later restated.
Defense attorneys said at trial that if Siebel Newsom hadn’t achieved her later fame, she would be “just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
“Regret is not the same as rape,” Weinstein attorney Alan Jackson said in his closing arguments.
He asked the jury to look past the women’s emotional statements and focus on the factual evidence.
“‘Believe us because we’re crazy, believe us because we cried,'” Jackson said of the jury prompts. “Well, anger doesn’t make a fact. And tears make no truth.”
All of the women involved in the charges went to court by Jane Doe. The Associated Press does not typically credit people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly or consent to be credited by their attorneys, as the women cited here have done.
Prosecutors called 40 other witnesses to contextualize and corroborate these stories. Four were other women who were not part of the prosecution but testified that Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them. They were brought to the witness stand to establish a pattern of sexual harassment.
Weinstein slammed four more felony charges before the trial even ended when prosecutors said a woman charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault did not appear to testify. They wouldn’t give a reason. Judge Lisa Lench dismissed those charges.
Weinstein’s latest conviction gives victims of famous men’s sexual misconduct a victory after a number of legal setbacks, including the dismissal of Bill Cosby’s conviction last year. The rape trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, which took place at the same time and next door to Weinstein’s, ended in a mistrial. And actor Kevin Spacey won a civil suit for sexual harassment in New York last month.
Weinstein’s conviction in New York survived an initial appeal, but the case is scheduled to go to the state’s highest court next year. The California conviction, which is also likely to be appealed, means he won’t be walking free even if the East Coast conviction is thrown out.
– Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press
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