What to Know
- A New York jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and criminal sexual act in his court case; he was acquitted of the most serious counts of predatory sex assault
- The jury of five women and seven men reached their verdict on the fifth day of deliberations; Weinstein was immediately remanded into custody pending sentencing
- Weinstein, 67, had been charged with forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping a different woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013; he also faces a separate complaint in LA
A New York jury found former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape in the case of Jessica Mann and guilty of first-degree criminal sexual assault in the case of Mimi Haleyi, acquitting him of the two most serious counts of predatory sex assault.
Those two counts of predatory sex assault, which carried a max sentence of life and would have required 12-member jury to find Weinstein guilty of attacking both "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra and Mann or both Sciorra and Haleyi, appeared to be a point of contention late last week. As the fourth day of deliberations wrapped up Friday, the jury sent the judge a note asking if they could be deadlocked on those two counts. The judge said no, and refused the defense's request for a partial verdict.
The panel, made up of five women and seven men, returned to deliberations on Monday morning, their fifth day of discussions, and issued their decision before lunchtime. The criminal sex act conviction along carries up to 25 years in prison; third-degree rape has a max sentence of four years — meaning the 67-year-old Weinstein could be in prison for the rest of his life should he get close to the maximum sentencing, even if they are served concurrently.
Following the verdict, the judge remanded Weinstein into custody pending sentencing on March 11, rejecting the defense request to keep him out on bail. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and was later taken from the courthouse in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher while wearing his suit, in what was believed to be a precautionary measure.
A spokesperson for Weinstein said the now-convicted criminal was diverted to Bellevue Hospital and was there late Monday night. One of his attorneys, Donna Rotunno, said Weinstein was under observation for high blood pressure and heart palpitations, according to NBC News. It was not immediately clear if he would stay at the hospital overnight or be transferred to Rikers Island.
He was originally supposed to go to the medical unit at Rikers, but is still under NYC Department of Correction care at the hospital where inmates with medical issues are often taken.
Asked if he was satisfied by the verdict, Vance acknowledged the acquittals on the top felony counts. But, calling the case "challenging," he said he was not disappointed by the jurors' decision. And he called out the accusers for bravely stepping forward, sharing their stories in the face of fierce defense attacks on their characters as they sat on a witness stand before the world.
"Those kinds of attacks making it seem like it's their fault are no longer going to work in this day and age," Vance said of the blistering cross-examination of the accusers. "This is a big day -- a new day."
Earlier, as the verdict was being read, Weinstein appeared to make eye contact with each juror as he or she said "yes," confirmations they were all in agreement with the decision. After the verdict was read, he appeared to look straight ahead, occasionally speaking with his attorneys.
Later, attorney Arthur Aidala vowed to appeal, blasting the court for its handling of the case from jury selection through the jury verdict. He also said Weinstein was "unbelievably strong" and took the decision "like a man."
After the verdict, jury foreman Bernard Cody was asked what the deliberations were like for him personally and responded: "Devastating." He did not elaborate.
There was one late twist — an anonymous email sent to the judge, prosecutors and the defense before the verdict alleging a juror had been pressured to convict. The judge cast doubt on the email's credibility but authorized a member of the prosecution team and a member of the defense team to interview the jurors individually to see if the email had any merit. Aidala had moved for mistrial based on that letter; the motion was denied.
Defense attorneys Rotunno and Damon Cheronis later said they were working to ensure Weinstein would be housed in an infirmary unit at Rikers Island or in protective custody "so that he can get the best medical supervision and care possible."
They added, in a prepared statement: "While he was not convicted on the most serious charges, we are disappointed in the verdict and will be filing an appeal. There are issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein's ability to have his case fairly judged. These will be addressed to a higher court."
Aidala quoted Weinstein as telling as his legal team: "I'm innocent. I'm innocent. I'm innocent. How could this happen in America?"
Sources tell NBC New York that the defense team is already working on a bond request which they plan to file, likely by Tuesday. The district attorney's office will give an answer to that request, and it could be argued before an appellate justice on Thursday, sources said.
The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and that's-Hollywood excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works.
The conviction was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behavior turned into a torrent of accusations in 2017 that destroyed his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to encourage women to come forward and hold powerful men accountable for their sexual misconduct.
The case against the once-feared producer was essentially built on three allegations: that he raped an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013, that he forcibly performed oral sex on Haleyi and that he raped and forcibly performed oral sex on Sciorra in her apartment in the mid-1990s.
Three additional women who said they, too, were attacked by Weinstein also testified as part of an effort by prosecutors to show a pattern of brutish behavior on his part.
While Weinstein did not testify, his lawyers contended that any sexual contact was consensual and that his accusers went to bed with him to advance their careers.
The defense seized on the fact that two of the women central to the case stayed in contact with Weinstein through warm and even flirty emails — and had sex with him — well after he supposedly attacked them.
The hard-charging and phenomenally successful movie executive helped bring to the screen such Oscar winners as “Good Will Hunting,” “Pulp Fiction," “The King's Speech” and “Shakespeare in Love” and nurtured the careers of celebrated filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith.
Weinstein now faces charges in Los Angeles. In that case, announced just as the New York trial was getting under way on Jan. 6, authorities allege Weinstein raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights during Oscars week in 2013. One of those women testified as a supporting witness at the New York trial.
The trial was the first criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations against Weinstein from more than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman. Most of those cases were too old to prosecute.
During the trial, Weinstein regularly trudged into the courthouse stooped and unshaven, using a walker after recently undergoing back surgery — a far cry from the way he was depicted in court as a burly, intimidating figure whose eyes seemed to turn black with menace when his anger flared.
Many of Weinstein’s accusers described him as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who could be incredibly charming at first, making jokes and showing interest in using his immense power to help their careers.
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But that was an act, they said, meant to gain their trust and get them to a place — often a hotel room or an apartment — where he could violate them.
“If he heard the word ‘no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” his rape accuser testified.
Several women testified that Weinstein excused his behavior as the price for getting ahead in Hollywood. One said that when she laughed off his advances, he sneered, "You’ll never make it in this business. This is how this industry works.”
The jury heard lurid testimony that Weinstein injected himself with a needle to get an erection, that his genitals appeared disfigured, that he sent Sciorra a box of chocolate penises and that he once showed up uninvited at her hotel room door in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video in the other.
The prosecution’s task was made more complicated because two of the women at the very center of the case didn't just abandon Weinstein after the alleged encounters: Haleyi testified that she had sex with him two weeks later, while the rape accuser whose name was withheld said she had a sexual encounter with him more than three years afterward.
Like Haleyi, she sent Weinstein friendly and sometimes flirtatious emails, such as “Miss you big guy” and “I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call.”
During a cross-examination from Weinstein's lawyers so exhaustive that she broke down in tears on the stand, the woman said she sent him flattering emails and kept seeing him because she was afraid of his unpredictable anger and “I wanted him to believe I wasn't a threat.”
To blunt that line of questioning, prosecutors called to the witness stand a forensic psychiatrist who said that most sexual assault victims continue to have contact with their attackers and that they hope what happened to them "is just an aberration.”
During closing arguments, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno charged that Weinstein had become "the target of a cause and a movement” — #MeToo — and asked the jury to ignore “outside forces."
“This is not a popularity contest," she said.
She said the case against Weinstein amounted to "regret renamed as rape," arguing that the women exercised their free will to try to further their careers.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the jury that Weinstein considered himself such a big shot in Hollywood that he thought he could get away with treating women as “complete disposables."
“The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king," she said, mimicking Weinstein.
Rumors about Weinstein’s behavior swirled in Hollywood circles for a long time, but he managed to silence many accusers with payoffs, nondisclosure agreements and the constant fear that he could crush their careers if they spoke out.
Weinstein was finally arrested and led away in handcuffs in May 2018, seven months after The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed his alleged misconduct in stories that would win the Pulitzer Prize.