Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty in 3 Cases of Rape and Sexual Assault
Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape in a Los Angeles trial on Monday, five years after he became a magnet for the #metoo movement.
The jury of eight men and four women reached the verdict after deliberating for more than two weeks in the second criminal trial of the 70-year-old onetime powerful movie mogul, who is two years into a 23-year sentence in New York for rape and sexual assault.
Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation, and another count of sexual misconduct involving an Italian model and actor who claimed he showed up uninvited at her hotel room door during a film festival in Los Angeles in 2013. The jury couldn’t agree on several counts, including one involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The jury could not decide on her and another woman’s allegations. On those counts, a mistrial was declared.
He was also found not guilty of a sexual battery allegation leveled by a massage therapist who treated Weinstein at a hotel in 2010.
He faces up to 24 years in prison when he is sentenced. There was no immediate reaction from prosecutors or defense attorneys to the verdict.
“It is time to end the defendant’s reign of terror,” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said in the prosecution’s closing argument. “It is time to bring the kingmaker to justice.”
With no forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts of the assaults claimed by Weinstein’s accusers to have occurred between 2005 and 2013, the case was heavily reliant on the stories and credibility of the four women at the center of the charges.
Among the accusers was Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Her powerful and emotional testimony about being raped in a hotel room by Weinstein in 2005 provided the trial’s most dramatic moments.
Lauren Young, the only accuser who testified at both Weinstein trials, said she was a model aspiring to be an actor and screenwriter meeting with Weinstein about a script in 2013 when he trapped her in a hotel bathroom, groped her and masturbated in front of her.
The jury was unable to decide on the charge against Young. Jurors told the judge they were 10-2 in favor of conviction on her count and 8-4 in favor of conviction on the two counts involving Siebel Newsom.
Martinez concluded that the women entered Weinstein’s hotel suites or let him into their rooms without knowing what was in store for them.
“Who would have guessed that such a titan of the entertainment industry would be a degenerate rapist?” she asked.
The women’s stories echoed the allegations of dozens of others who have emerged since Weinstein became a #MeToo lightning rod starting with stories in the New York Times in 2017. During the trial, a film based on that reporting, “She Said,” was released, and jurors were repeatedly warned not to watch it.
The defense made #MeToo an issue during the trial, however, emphasizing that none of the four women went to the authorities until after the movement made Harvey Weinstein a target.
Defense attorneys claimed that two women were completely lying about their encounters with Weinstein, while the other two had “100% consensual” sexual encounters that they later reframed.
“Regret is not the same thing as rape,” Weinstein’s attorney Alan Jackson said in his closing argument.
He urged jurors to look past the women’s emotional testimony and focus on the factual evidence.
“‘Believe us because we’re mad, believe us because we cried,'” Jackson said jurors were being asked to do. “Well, fury does not equal truth. “And tears do not produce truth.”
In court, all the women charged went by the name Jane Doe. The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly or agree to be named through their attorneys, as the women named here did.
Prosecutors called 40 additional witnesses to provide context and corroboration to those stories. The term “responsibility” refers to determining whether a person is responsible for his or her actions. They were brought to the stand so that a pattern of sexual predation could be established.
Weinstein was acquitted of four other felony charges before the trial even began when prosecutors announced that a woman he was accused of raping twice and sexually assaulting twice would not testify. They declined to give a reason. Judge Lisa Lench dismissed these charges.
Weinstein’s latest conviction gives victims of famous men’s sexual misconduct a victory after some legal setbacks, including the dismissal of Bill Cosby’s conviction last year. The rape trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, which was taking place at the same time as Weinstein’s, ended in a mistrial. And actor Kevin Spacey was victorious at a sexual battery civil trial in New York last month.
Weinstein’s conviction in New York was upheld on appeal, but the state’s highest court will hear the case next year. The California conviction, also likely to be appealed, means he will not walk free even if the East Coast conviction is thrown out.