Harvey Weinstein found guilty in landmark #MeToo moment
NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday at his sexual assault trial, sealing his dizzying fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to archvillain of the #MeToo movement.
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 jury of seven men and five women took five days to find him guilty.
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 another woman, production assistant Mimi Haleyi, at his apartment in 2006, and that he raped and forcibly performed oral sex on “Sopranos” actress Annabella 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.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes unless they grant permission, as Haleyi and Sciorra did.
Jurors signaled their struggles with the Sciorra charges four days into deliberations. On Friday, after reviewing sections of her testimony and related evidence, they sent a note to the judge indicating they were deadlocked on the counts but had reached a unanimous verdict on the others. After some debate in the courtroom, the judge ordered jurors to keep deliberating.
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.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Jurors at Harvey Weinstein’s New York City rape trial are set to resume deliberations Monday after signaling they are at odds on the top charges in the closely watched #MeToo case.
The jury sent a note to Judge James Burke at the end of a fourth day of deliberations on Friday, asking if it was permissible for the panel to be hung on one or both counts of predatory sexual assault against the disgraced movie mogul while reaching a unanimous verdict on lesser charges.
The judge responded by ordering the jury to keep deliberating and try to reach a unanimous decision. The query sparked speculation that the trial could end with a partial verdict, but Burke has not addressed that.
Previous notes suggested that jurors were focused on a key aspect of both predatory sexual assault counts — “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra’s allegations that Weinstein attacked her in the mid-1990s. The jury must factor in Sciorra’s account, along with the accusations that Weinstein raped an aspiring actress in March 2013 and forced oral sex on former film and TV production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006, to find him guilty of predatory sexual assault.
A guilty verdict on just one of those two predatory sexual assault charges would likely send Weinstein to prison for the rest of his life.
Weinstein has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of people who allege sexual assault without their consent. It is withholding the name of the 2013 rape accuser because it isn’t clear whether she wishes to be identified publicly.
For more coverage of the Harvey Weinstein case, visit: https://apnews.com/HarveyWeinstein
(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
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