New York, 25 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s trial found the disgraced Hollywood mogul guilty on Monday of a criminal sexual act and rape in the third degree, though not of the most serious charges against him.
Weinstein, 67, started straight ahead as the verdicts were read out in the New York State Supreme Court.
The once-powerful producer was then handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom after Judge James Burke ordered him to go to prison immediately. He will be sentenced on March 11.
Weinstein was convicted of a criminal sexual act for forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and of the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013.
He was found not guilty of predatory sexual assault, which could have landed him in prison for life, and rape in the first degree.
The jurors reached their verdict on the fifth day of deliberations, after indicating they were deadlocked on the two most severe charges on Friday.
The panel of seven men and five women had heard weeks of often emotional and harrowing testimony by Mann and Haleyi, as well as several other witnesses brought by the prosecution in an effort to demonstrate a pattern of predatory behaviour by Weinstein.
They also heard “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra’s account of how Weinstein allegedly raped her in the early 1990s – allegations that were too old to be charged on their own but were key parts of the two predatory sexual assault charges.
Weinstein’s defence team argued that the encounters were consensual, pointing to warm messages from the women to the producer after the alleged attacks.
Rotunno said the relationships were being “reimagined” in a “narrative” spun by “overzealous” prosecutors, and that the accusers used Weinstein to further their Hollywood careers.
The jurors appeared to show particular interest in Sciorra’s allegations, requesting to review parts of her testimony during deliberations.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance called it a “big day,” saying Weinstein could be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“It is not the top counts in the indictment, but by no means am I dissatisfied,” Vance said at the courthouse.
The judge said he would request for Weinstein, who has been using a walking frame, to be put in an infirmary after lead defence lawyer Donna Rotunno argued that he needed medical attention.
The jury’s decision will be closely scrutinized as a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, a global reckoning about sexual harassment and assault that was triggered by revelations of numerous allegations against Weinstein in US media in 2017.
Since then, more than 80 women have accused the once-powerful producer of sexual misconduct.
The #MeToo movement praised the witnesses and jurors.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the voices of the silence breakers in and outside of the courtroom, the survivors who courageously testified, and the jurors who, despite an unrelenting and unethical defense strategy, voted to find an unremorseful Harvey Weinstein guilty,” read a statement on the movement’s website.
“This trial — and the jury’s decision today — marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work,” Tina Tchen, president and chief executive of the TIME’S UP Foundation against sexual harrassment, said.
“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,” the statement said.