The disgraced Oscar-winner Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual act in the first, and he faces up to 25 years in prison. The 67-year-old was found guilty of forcibly performing oral sex on Project Runway production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and the rape in the third degree of Jessica Mann.
Still, the verdict wasn’t a total victory for prosecutors. Weinstein was acquitted on the two more serious criminal charges by the seven man, five woman jury. The top charge of predatory sexual assault carried a life sentence, and Weinstein was acquitted.
In the trial, which marked a major milestone in the #MeToo era which the Weinstein case launched, 28 witnesses, including six women who recounted their own attacks, came before the jury to share their stories.
Manhattan Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and her co-counsel, Meghan Hast argued that Weinstein used his powerful position to take advantage of vulnerable women who wanted to advance their careers, only to be sexually attacked.
In her closing statement, Illuzzi-Orbon said: “When you’re the only one and he’s a giant — not only in his own industry — but he’s someone who gets presidents on the phone and he’s talking to A-listers and people you will never meet in your entire life … you’re really freaking hesitant to report.”
Defense lawyers Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis argued that accusers had consensual sex that that they later regretted and “relabeled” as rape; they repeatedly raised doubts about the accusers’ motivations in coming forward. They also claimed that Weinstein had been railroaded in a #MeToo movement that had gone off the rails.
In her closing statement, Rotunno said: “In this script, a powerful man is the villain, and he is so unattractive and large that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily. Regret does not exist in this world, only regret renamed as rape.”
The jury deliberated for five days; in all more, than 80 women accused Weinstein of assault going back decades. Weinstein pleaded not guilty and has denied allegations of nonconsensual sex.
He was handcuffed and taken into custody around 12 pm. He will be sentenced on March 11th. Next up, he faces four more criminal sex charges in L.A.