Courage. Conviction. Her Story. Silence-breakers. Retribution. Reckoning. Forever more, Harvey Weinstein will be known as a convicted sexual predator. Today is a big victory for the #MeToo movement. A jury of seven men and five women took five days to find disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape. The jury in New York convicted Harvey Weinstein, 67, of third-degree rape, as well as a count of criminal sexual act in the first degree. This trial was a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement and a test to see if a once-powerful man could be held accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace. Verdict? Yes he can.
A jury convicted Harvey Weinstein of felony sex crime and rape, but acquitted him of the most serious charges, namely, predatory sexual assault. (Weinstein was found not guilty of the most severe charge, predatory sexual assault, which would have acknowledged a pattern that included forcing sex on actress Annabella Sciorra in the 1990s.)
The former powerhouse film producer whose downfall over sexual misconduct ignited a global movement, was found guilty on Monday, February 24 of a felony sex crime and rape after a trial in which six women testified that he had sexually assaulted them.
The jury determined that Harvey Weinstein forced a sex act on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in July 2006 and raped aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a hotel in 2013. The top conviction count could yield up to 25 years in prison. Specifically, the first-degree charge, stemming from allegations by former reality TV show Project Runway production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haley that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his Soho apartment in 2006, could see the Miramax co-creator face up to 25 years in prison. The third-degree rape count, based on a 2013 rape allegation by Jessica Mann, could bring up to four years in prison.
With their verdict, the jurors essentially said, “She said, and we hear you.” Harvey Weinstein is no longer untouchable. His new home is a jail cell. Rape is rape no matter whether its committed by a stranger in a dark alleyway or by one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers.
In October 2017 exposés in The New Yorker and The New York Times reported that dozens of women claimed to have been the victims of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.Today’s convictions are seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behavior.
The jury heard about three weeks of testimony in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.Specifically, they heard from six accusers: Mann, Haleyi, Sciorra, and three others who were allowed as support witnesses to establish a pattern of behavior. The prosecution brought a total of 28 witnesses, and the defense brought seven, including former friends of accusers who disputed their testimony.Weinstein never testified.
Charged. Convicted. Throw away the key? Hello, Rikers Island. There will be serious jail time ahead for Harvey Weinstein.He will probably be required to start serving his sentence right away since he has the resources to flee the country, and Judge James Burke knows that. Weinstein, who had been free on bond during the trial, was handcuffed and ordered held without bail in jail pending his sentencing by Judge James Burke on March 11.
In New York State, a person can be convicted of predatory sexual assault when a jury has determined that the person committed a first degree rape, criminal sexual act or aggravated sexual abuse against more than one other person.
The verdict is the capstone to a lengthy trial that began on Jan. 6 and included the testimony of six women who said — under oath — that Weinstein had sexually assaulted them over the last three decades. And New York isn’t the end of his troubles. Weinstein faces separate charges in Los Angeles and remains under investigation by authorities in Dublin and London.
With a 25 year maximum sentence, Weinstein’s conviction could see the 67-year-old spend the rest of his life in a New York prison. The sexual misconduct trial in Los Angeles involves two women, one of whom – Lauren Marie Young – testified in New York to bolster the Haley and Mann cases.
California prosecutors announced their indictment on the first day of Weinstein’s trial in Manhattan.The Los Angeles case is based on the accounts of two unidentified women, who have accused him of attacking them — just a day apart — in February 2013. Weinstein has yet to enter a plea in that case. One of the women, an Italian model and actress, told prosecutors that Weinstein raped her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel after she met him at a film festival.
Will Harvey Weinstein appeal the New York case? One of his attorneys is allegedly on his/her way to file an appeal. Weinstein’s lawyers continue to claim that prosecutors did not have forensic evidence or corroborating witnesses to any of the assaults. His defense attorneys had insisted each alleged encounter was consensual and that the accusers were motivated by other reasons to testify against Weinstein.
Does this verdict offer a measure of justice to the dozens of women who had come forward with similar allegations against Weinstein?Justice can be done. Convictions can be obtained even against very powerful people.There is so much more to come on this issue and in these #MeToo cases. I invite you to grab your gavel, join the conversation, and chime in on this watershed moment in #MeToo and rape case history.