LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape Monday at a Los Angeles trial in another #MeToo moment of reckoning, five years after becoming a magnet for the movement.
After deliberating nine days over two weeks, the jury of eight men and four women has reached verdict in the second criminal trial of the 70-year-old once-powerful film magnate, who is serving two years in a 23-year prison sentence for a conviction for rape and assault in New York.
Weinstein was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct involving an Italian model and actor who said he showed up uninvited at her hotel room door during a 2013 Los Angeles film festival. The jury was unable to reach a decision on several counts, most notably charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
The jury reported that it was unable to rule on her allegations and the allegations of another woman. A mistrial was declared on those points.
He was also cleared of a sexual battery charge by a massage therapist Weinstein treated at a hotel in 2010.
Weinstein looked at the table and seemed to put his face in his hands as the first culprits were read. He watched as the rest of the verdict was read.
He faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had no direct comment on the verdict.
“Harvey Weinstein will never be able to rape another woman. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs,” Siebel Newsom said in a statement. “During the trial, Weinstein’s lawyers used sexism, misogyny and harassment to intimidate, humiliate and ridicule us survivors. The process was a strong reminder that as a society we have work to do.”
“It’s time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end,” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said in the prosecution’s closing argument. “It’s time the Kingmaker was brought to justice.”
In the absence of any forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts of attacks that Weinstein prosecutors say took place between 2005 and 2013, the case hinged heavily on the stories and credibility of the four women at the center of the indictment.
The accusers included Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker whose husband is California Governor Gavin Newsom. Her intense and emotional testimony to Weinstein’s rape in a hotel room in 2005 brought the trial its most dramatic moments.
Lauren Young, the only accuser to testify at both Weinstein trials, said she was a model who wanted to be an actor and screenwriter. from her.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charges involving Young. Jurors told the judge they were 10-2 for conviction on her count, and 8-4 for conviction on the two counts involving Siebel Newsom.
Martinez said in her closing that the women entered Weinstein’s hotel suites or let him into their rooms, with no idea of what was in store for them.
“Who would suspect that such an entertainment industry giant would be a degenerate rapist?” she said.
The women’s stories echoed the allegations of dozens of others that have come forward since Weinstein became a #MeToo lightning rod, beginning with stories in the New York Times in 2017. A movie about that coverage, “She Said,” was released during the trial, and jurors were repeatedly warned not to see it.
It was the defense that made #MeToo an issue at trial, but stressed that none of the four women went to authorities until the movement targeted Weinstein.
Defense attorneys said two of the women completely lied about their encounters with Weinstein, and that the other two had “100 percent consensual” sexual interactions that they later refrained from.
“Regret is not the same as rape,” said Weinstein attorney Alan Jackson in his closing argument.
He urged jurors to look beyond the women’s emotional testimonies and focus on the factual evidence.
“‘Believe us because we’re angry, believe us because we cried,'” Jackson said the jurors were asked to do. “Well, anger is not a fact. And tears don’t make the truth.”
All of the women involved in the charges have been taken to court by Jane Doe. The Associated Press typically doesn’t name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly or agree to be named through their lawyers, as the women mentioned here did.
Prosecutors called 40 other witnesses in an attempt to provide context and corroboration to those stories. Four were other women who were not part of the indictment but testified that Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them. They were taken to the stands to establish a pattern of sexual predation.
Weinstein beat four other felony charges before the trial even ended, when prosecutors said a woman he was accused of twice raping and twice sexually assaulting appeared not to testify. They refused to give a reason. Judge Lisa Lench dismissed those charges.
Weinstein’s latest conviction marks a victory for victims of celebrity male sexual misconduct after some legal setbacks, including the dismissal of Bill Cosby’s conviction last year. The rape trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, held simultaneously and just down the hall from Weinstein’s, ended in a mistrial. And actor Kevin Spacey triumphed in a civil sexual battery lawsuit in New York last month.
Weinstein’s conviction in New York survived an initial appeal, but the case will be heard by the state’s highest court next year. The California conviction, which is also likely to be appealed, means he won’t walk free even if the East Coast conviction is overturned.
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