Harvey Weinstein was found guilty Monday of rape at a Los Angeles trial in another #MeToo moment of reckoning, five years after he became a magnet for the movement.
After deliberating for nine days spanning more than two weeks, the jury of eight men and four women reached the verdict at the second criminal trial of the 70-year-old onetime powerful movie mogul, who is two years into a 23-year sentence for a rape and sexual assault conviction in New York.
Weinstein was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct count involving an Italian model and actor who said he appeared uninvited at her hotel room door during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013. The jury was unable to reach a decision on several counts, notably charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The jury reported it was unable to reach verdicts in her allegations and the allegations of another woman. A mistrial was declared on those counts.
He was also acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by a massage therapist who treated Weinstein at a hotel in 2010.
He faces up to 24 years in prison when he is sentenced. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had no immediate comment on the verdict.
“It is time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end,” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said in the prosecution’s closing argument. “It is time for the kingmaker to be brought to justice.”
Lacking any forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts of assaults Weinstein’s accusers said happened from 2005 to 2013, the case hinged heavily on the stories and credibility of the four women at the center of the charges.
The accusers included Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker whose husband is California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Her intense and emotional testimony of being raped by Weinstein in a hotel room in 2005 brought the trial its most dramatic moments.
Lauren Young, the only accuser who testified at both Weinstein trials, said she was a model aspiring to be an actor and screenwriter who was meeting with Weinstein about a script in 2013 when he trapped her in a hotel bathroom, groped her and masturbated in front of her.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge involving Young. Jurors told the judge they were 10-2 in favor of conviction on her count, and 8-4 in favor of 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 awaited them.
“Who would suspect that such an entertainment industry titan would be a degenerate rapist?” she said.
The women’s stories echoed the allegations of dozens of others who have emerged since Weinstein became a #MeToo lightning rod starting with stories in the New York Times in 2017. A movie about that reporting, “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 during the trial, however, emphasizing that none of the four women went to the authorities until after the movement made Weinstein a target.
Defense lawyers said two of the women were entirely lying about their encounters with Weinstein, and that the other two had “100% consensual” sexual interactions that they later reframed.
“Regret is not the same thing as rape,” Weinstein attorney Alan Jackson said in his closing argument.
He urged jurors to look past the the women’s emotional testimony and focus on the factual evidence.
“‘Believe us because we’re mad, believe us because we cried,’” Jackson said jurors were being asked to do. “Well, fury does not make fact. And tears do not make truth.”
All the women involved in the charges went by Jane Doe in court. The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly or agree to be named through their attorneys, as the women named here did.
Prosecutors called 40 other witnesses in an attempt to give context and corroboration to those stories. Four were other women who were not part of the charges but testified that Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them. They were brought to the stand 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 charged with raping twice and sexually assaulting twice would not appear to testify. They declined to give a reason. Judge Lisa Lench dismissed those charges.
Weinstein’s latest conviction hands a victory to victims of sexual misconduct of famous men in the wake of 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 was victorious at a sexual battery civil trial in New York last month.
Weinstein’s New York conviction survived an initial appeal, but the case is set to be heard by the state’s highest court next year. The California conviction, also likely to be appealed, means he will not walk free even if the East Coast conviction is thrown out.
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