Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape and sexual assault

Hollywood producer had five allegations against him

Harvey Weinstein, former co-chairman of the Weinstein Co, arrives for the jury verdict in his sexual assault trial in New York City. Bloomberg
Harvey Weinstein, former co-chairman of the Weinstein Co, arrives for the jury verdict in his sexual assault trial in New York City. Bloomberg

Harvey Weinstein on Monday was found guilty by a New York jury of rape and sexual assault, in a trial that sparked the #MeToo movement.

Once one of Hollywood's most powerful producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a one-time aspiring actress, in 2013.

The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing graphic testimony from accusers who told of rape, forced sex acts, groping, lewd propositions and "that’s-Hollywood" excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works.

The conviction was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for him after years of whispers about his behaviour turned into a torrent of accusations in 2017.

They destroyed his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to encourage women to come forward and hold powerful men accountable for their sexual misconduct.

The jury of seven men and five women took five days to find him guilty. He appeared expressionless when the verdict was read out.

Harvey Weinstein sits at the defence table reading papers during jury deliberations in his sexual assault trial in New York City in this courtroom sketch. Jane Rosenberg / Reuters
Harvey Weinstein sits at the defence table reading papers during jury deliberations in his sexual assault trial in New York City. Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

Weinstein was acquitted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, which could carry a life sentence.

He faces up to 25 years in prison.

The case against the once-feared producer was essentially built on three allegations: that he raped an aspiring actress in a New York hotel room in 2013; that he forcibly performed sex acts on Ms Haleyi; and that he raped and forcibly performed sex acts on The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra in her apartment in the mid-1990s.

Three other women who said they were also attacked by Weinstein testified in an attempt by prosecutors to show a pattern of brutish behaviour on his part.

The successful movie executive helped bring to the screen such Oscar winners as Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love and nurtured the careers of filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith.

He sentencing hearing was set for March 11.

The disgraced movie mogul's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, quoted Weinstein as saying to him after the verdict, "I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?"

He was being taken to a medical centre at Rikers Island jail, Mr Aidala said outside the courtroom.

"We will have a very professional appeal done by the best and the brightest in the business," he said.

A long legal battle is likely to follow in appeals courts. At the start of the trial, defence lawyers accused the judge of being biased and prosecutors of withholding evidence.

"We will change the laws in the future so that rape victims are heard and not discredited, and so that it’s easier for people to report their rapes," tweeted actress Rosanna Arquette, who has said she resisted unwanted sexual advances by Weinstein.

Another actress, Ashley Judd, who has accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, praised the women who testified in the landmark case.

"You did a public service to girls and women everywhere. Thank you," Judd said.

Weinstein now faces another trial in Los Angeles.

In that case, announced just as the New York trial was getting under way on January 6, authorities allege he raped a woman and sexually assaulted another on two nights during Oscars week in 2013.

Updated: February 25, 2020 08:08 AM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read