Harvey Weinstein guilty over sexual assaults

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of two counts in his sexual assault trial. Weinstein, 67, was convicted on lesser charges of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act in the first degree and faces up to 25 years in prison. But he was acquitted of the most serious charges of predatory sexual assault. He had denied all charges. He still faces more charges in Los Angeles of rape and sexual assault of two women in 2013. More than 80 women, including famous actresses, had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. What happened in court? The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations. He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann. In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno. But he judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately. He was surrounded by court officers, handcuffed and led from the courtroom. Weinstein had entered court before the verdict wearing a navy blue suit and leaning on a walking frame. The case was at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men. Weinstein shot to fame with critically acclaimed films such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.

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What were the allegations? Ms Haleyi, who had worked on one of Weinstein’s television productions, said she was assaulted by the producer after he invited her to his Lower Manhattan home. She testified that he backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her. Ms Mann said that she found herself in an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that did not involve intercourse until he raped her in 2013. She said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure who could be charming in public but showed his dark side when they were alone. Another one of Weinstein’s accusers, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors he raped her in her apartment one night in 1993 or 1994. Her allegation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, but prosecutors used it in an attempt to demonstrate that the accused was a repeat sexual offender. During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and violently attack women. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said during opening arguments: “The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist.” But the defence team suggested the producer’s accusers were disgruntled actresses. Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, told jurors in closing arguments they were “the last line of defence” against an “overzealous” prosecution. How did we get here? Weinstein was once one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood, with dozens of Academy Award wins for his films. Allegations started to emerge about him in October 2017. The story was broken by the New York Times, which published details of decades of alleged incidents of harassment. Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations. Over the coming weeks, dozens more allegations emerged and Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company. Despite continuing to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex, he was all but banished from Hollywood. Allegations against him helped drive the #MeToo campaign against sexual misconduct, where victims shared their experiences of assault and harassment. Some criminal investigations were launched but he was not charged until May 2018, when he turned himself in to police in New York. Source: BBC]]>

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