News

Harvey Weinstein Was Just Found Guilty of Rape and Sexual Assault

Weinstein was found not guilty of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault.
24 February 2020, 5:00pm
Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court as jury deliberations continued in his rape trial, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in New York.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Harvey Weinstein, the fallen Hollywood producer who sparked a worldwide cultural reckoning about sexual assault and harassment, was found guilty of rape and a criminal sexual act Monday.

Weinstein, who was facing a total of five sex crime charges, was found not guilty of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault. Those charges could have landed him in prison for life.

Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, but the criminal charges against him were largely linked to encounters with just two: ex-production assistant Miriam Haley, who says Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 2006, and Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress says he raped her in 2013.

Weinstein was found guilty of raping Mann in the third degree, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. He was also found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree involving Haley, a charge whose maximum sentence is 25 years in prison.

Besides Mann and Haley, four other women also testified against Weinstein during his trial, including “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, as part of an effort by prosecutors to illustrate a pattern of abuse.

Sciorra had testified that Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s, but her allegation was deemed too old to be tried separately. Instead, it was included in the predatory sexual assault charges, for which the jury of seven men and three women acquitted Weinstein.

The Weinstein’s trial has frequently been framed as a referendum on the #MeToo movement, which washed across social media in late 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker published explosive reports about Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual harassment and rape.

The jurors were asked to grapple with many of the common “rape myths” — as one expert witness called them — that frequently dog women who report sexual assault and that the #MeToo movement has tried to dispel, such as the idea that abused women always cut off contact with their attackers.

Haley and Mann, for example, both acknowledged that they continued to speak with Weinstein. Mann said she’d sometimes had willing sexual encounters with him.

During the trial, his defense pointed to these complex relationships as proof that Weinstein’s encounters with Haley and Mann were transactional, but consensual. His accusers, Weinstein’s defense argued, had traded sexual favors in exchange for Weinstein’s wealth and power as a Hollywood producer. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.)

The prosecution tried to rebut this argument by calling a forensic pyschiatrist to the stand, who testified that a woman will often stay in contact with her abuser if she already knew him prior to the sexual abuse. Most assaults occur between people who know each other.

Weinstein’s legal battles aren’t over. On the same day his New York trial started, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced that her office had charged Weinstein with four felony counts of sexual assault. Weinstein is alleged to have raped one woman on Feb. 18, 2013, and sexually assaulted another woman the next day.

If Weinstein is convicted as charged in California, he could spend 28 years in state prison.

Still, some #MeToo advocates say that the movement is now trying to expand beyond the largely white, rich, and famous women who made the allegations against Weinstein front-page news. The verdict against Weinstein is ultimately a decision reached by just 12 people, about one man.

“Regardless of the outcome, the #MeToo movement has now become a bigger thing that has a monentum of its own,” Rowena Chiu, a former Weinstein assistant who’s accused him of attempting to rape her in 1998, told VICE News before the verdict. “I think we brought about a cultural and societal change that’s now irrevocable. I hope we won’t go back to the days when predator men, in the workplace and otherwise, were able to get away undetected with heinous acts.”

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court as jury deliberations continued in his rape trial, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)