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Harvey Weinstein convicted of rape, criminal sexual act

February 24, 2020

By Taryn Ryder - Yahoo! Entertainment

New York, NY - Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty on two of five possible counts: criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He was found not guilty, though, of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault (two counts) and rape in the first degree. The jury, made up of seven men and five women, delivered the verdict on Monday, nearly a week after beginning deliberations.

Weinstein, 67, was handcuffed and taken straight to jail where he'll remain until sentencing on March 11. A spokesperson for the defense said they are working to get Weinstein into the "infirmary unit" or protective custody.

"While he was not convicted on the most serious charges, we are disappointed in the verdict and will be filing an appeal. There are issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein's ability to have his case fairly judged," the defense team told Yahoo Entertainment Monday afternoon. "These will be addressed to a higher court. In the meantime, we are working on assuring that Mr. Weinstein is brought to Rikers' Island's North infirmary unit (NIU) at the Anna M Kross center complex or in protective custody so that he can get the best medical supervision and care possible."

Weinstein's top attorney, Donna Rotunno, spoke to reporters after court was adjourned Monday and declared "it's tough to get a fair trial."

"Jurors came in knowing everything that they could know about this case, we couldn't find a juror that never heard of Harvey Weinstein," Rotunno said in a video captured by New York Daily News reporter Molly Crane-Newman. "We'll absolutely be appealing, the fight is not over."

Rotunno added, "Obviously, [Harvey's] disappointed."

"Harvey's unbelievably strong, he took it like a man and he knows that we will continue to fight for him and we know that this is not over," she stated.

Write Harvey Weinstein in Rikers Island

Criminal sexual act in the first degree carries a minimum punishment of five years and a maximum of 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape charge is punishable by probation up to four years in prison.

The verdict comes after Rotunno implored the jury to "use your New York City common sense" and find him not guilty. During closing arguments, Weinstein's defense team painted the disgraced producer as a victim who was involved in consensual and often transactional relationships with his accusers.

Meanwhile, the prosecution described the Oscar winner as "an abusive rapist" who took advantage of "disposable" women for decades. Weinstein never took the stand.

Weinstein faced five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape (first-degree and third-degree) and one count of criminal sexual assault in the first degree. However, because it was a mix of either/or charges for the jury to choose from, he could’ve only been convicted of two at most. The jury indicated last week they were deadlocked on the most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.

On Friday, jurors sent a note to Judge Burke asking if it would be possible to be hung on two counts of predatory sexual assault while reaching a unanimous verdict on the other three charges. While Weinstein’s lawyers said they would accept a partial verdict, prosecutors would not. The judge asked jurors to keep working toward a unanimous verdict on all charges.

Although six women testified they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein, he only faced charges in connection with the allegations of two — Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann.

Haley, a former production assistant on Project Runway, claimed that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his apartment in 2006. Mann, a hairdresser and aspiring actress, accused Weinstein of raping her in 2013. Four women — Dawn Dunning, Lauren Young, Tarale Wulff and Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra — were allowed to testify so prosecutors could establish a pattern of behavior. Sciorra’s testimony specifically supported the charges of predatory sexual assault. If the jury believed Weinstein committed either or both of the first-degree charges of criminal sexual assault and/or rape, then Sciorra's testimony could escalate the charges to predatory sexual assault.

Judge Burke explained to the jury that Weinstein couldn’t be found guilty of both predatory sexual assault and criminal sexual assault in the first degree. If they found him guilty of predatory sexual assault, he explained, they should not consider the criminal sexual assault charge.

"It is fundamental that a jury consider a greater before a lesser," the judge said before the deliberation process began last Tuesday.

The trial is largely seen as a watershed moment for #MeToo, the worldwide movement launched when allegations surrounding Weinstein first emerged in 2017. More than 80 women have come forward accusing the former movie mogul of sexual assault, harassment and/or misconduct. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

In a statement after the verdict Monday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. thanked the six women who testified as well as the two female prosecutors on the case, Meghan Hast and Joan Illuzzi.

"These are the eight women who changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence. These are eight women who pulled our justice system into the 21st century by declaring that rape is rape, and sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter what," he said. "Rape is rape, whether it’s committed by a stranger in a dark alley or by an intimate partner in a relationship. ... It’s rape, despite the complicated dynamics of power and consent after an assault. It’s rape even if there is no physical evidence. Even if it happened a long time ago.

"This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America. This is a new day," he continued. "It’s a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously, and at great risk, made that happen. Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator, who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate, and silence his victims."

Vance concluded by thanking the survivors.

"Words can’t describe adequately the sacrifices these survivors made to pursue justice. Weinstein, with his manipulation, his resources, his attorneys, his publicists, and his spies, did everything he could to silence these survivors. But they refused to be silent. They spoke from their hearts, and they were heard," he said. "They were heard by Weinstein’s other survivors and by sexual predators all over the world. They sacrificed their privacy and self-protection knowing better than anyone the extent of Weinstein’s power, manipulation, retribution, and abuse. You broke your silence to hold him accountable, and believe me when I say that because you have done so, a generation of sexual assault survivors – and all of us – heard your every word."

Attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent Wulff as well as three women in their civil claims against Weinstein, released the following statement to Yahoo Entertainment:

"While we cannot undo the harm that Weinstein has caused to so many victims, hopefully today can bring about some sense of healing.  We are thrilled that the jury has found Weinstein guilty and are confident that our client Tarale Wulff played a significant role in that outcome.  All of the survivors who participated in the criminal trial should be applauded for bringing about some sense of justice.  We are also grateful to the entire team at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that worked tirelessly in preparing and presenting this case.  We are now even more confident that Weinstein and his enablers will be found liable in the civil courts and we will continue to object to the one-sided civil settlement that has been proposed."

While his rape trial in New York has come to a close, Weinstein is also accused of sex crimes in Los Angeles. There, he's been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013. Lauren Young, one of the six women to testify in New York, is one accuser in that case, where Weinstein faces nine charges of rape and sexual misconduct.