On Monday, the jury in the second trial of the disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein found him guilty of rape and sexual assault against one of the four women who had accused him of such acts.
Three of the seven charges against Weinstein were upheld, including that he used his Hollywood connections to coerce women into sexual encounters.
One count of sexual battery by restraint against a massage therapist in a hotel room in 2010 was also dismissed after weeks of emotional testimony and 10 days of deliberations in Los Angeles.
Two counts of sexual battery by restraint, one count of forcible oral copulation, and one count of rape involving two other women, including Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the filmmaker and first partner of California Governor Gavin Newsom, resulted in a hung jury.
The three counts against Weinstein—rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object, and forcible oral copulation—were all related to the same accuser: a model and actress who claimed he assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in February 2013.
The First Witness At The Trial Was A Woman Called “Jane Doe 1”
That night in 2013, Harvey Weinstein irreparably damaged a vital part of me. I can never get that back. The legal proceedings were extremely harsh. On the witness stand, I went through hell at the hands of Weinstein’s legal team.
But I had to stick it out until the end, and I did… According to a statement released by her lawyer, “Jane Doe 1” expressed the hope that Harvey Weinstein would spend the rest of his life behind bars. All seven charges against Weinstein were dismissed after he entered a not-guilty plea.
Juda Engelmayer, a spokesperson for Weinstein, said, “Harvey is obviously disappointed, however, hopefully, because with this particular accuser there is good ground to appeal based on the time and location of alleged events.” He appreciates that the jury spent so much time deliberating on the other counts, and he intends to keep fighting to prove his innocence.
According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Weinstein could spend up to 24 years in prison if he is found guilty. The former powerful film producer is currently serving a 23-year sentence for a rape conviction from 2020 in New York.
The prosecutor’s office has stated that the jury will return to the courtroom on Tuesday to discuss aggravating circumstances in order to reach a verdict in the sentencing hearing for Weinstein.
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The Claims And Counterclaims
Each of Weinstein’s accusers, including a model, a dancer, a massage therapist, and Siebel Newsom, testified tearfully during the trial’s several weeks as they were questioned about the specifics of their allegations, their interactions with the producer over the years, and their reactions to the alleged assaults.
There were eleven charges against Weinstein at one point, but four of them involving an unidentified woman were dismissed without any explanation. She chose not to testify at trial.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez used the word “titan” to describe Weinstein during her closing arguments, claiming that he had used his Hollywood power to sexually harass and silence women.
Sexual predators engage in sexual acts. You can see the pattern,” Paul Thompson, another prosecutor, told the jury.
Despite this, Weinstein’s legal team has repeatedly claimed there is no proof of assault, insisting that the allegations are either false or occurred voluntarily as part of a “transactional relationship” with the film producer.Alan Jackson, who represented the defendants, said the accusers were after “fame and fortune.”
In addition to the accusers and their friends and family, experts, law enforcement, and former associates of Weinstein testified at the Los Angeles trial.
No One Else Will Stand For This From Him
As the trial dragged on for weeks, Weinstein, who refused to testify, grew thinner and paler in court. On Monday, as the first guilty verdicts were being read, he appeared to put his head in his hands.
The 70-year-old defendant’s attorneys mounted an aggressive defence, calling Siebel Newsom a “bimbo” and attacking the credibility of his accusers. Legal experts said Weinstein’s defence was shocking in its overt sexism, calling it a throwback to the tactics of the 1980s.
The defence for Weinstein claimed that two of the accusers lied and that the rest had engaged in consensual, transactional sex that they were now trying to label as assault. Even more graphic details were emphasised by Weinstein’s defence team, such as Siebel Newsom’s alleged screams during the assault and the veracity of a description of Weinstein’s genitalia by another accuser.
In his closing arguments, Alan Jackson, Jackson’s defence attorney, urged the jury not to be swayed by the #MeToo movement and argued that the testimony of eight women did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson had committed any crime.
Inalterable truth. What we have here is not an emotion but something else entirely. It wasn’t on a whim. Jackson emphasised that this was not a hashtag. An individual’s legal rights should not be subject to the whims of a mass movement.
Jackson argued that Siebel Newsom turned on Weinstein “in a second,” not because it was true, but because it was trendy when she decided to speak out publicly against him in 2017 after other women had begun to speak out.
What Happened At Weinstein’s Second Sex Crimes Trial?
During the course of the month-long trial, the prosecution called 44 witnesses to the stand, including four of the women against whom Weinstein was charged with sexual assault or rape. These women testified about their experiences of sexual assault or rape at the hands of Weinstein, and the pain, shock, and shame they felt as a result.
On November 14, Newsom sobbed loudly from the witness stand as she testified that Weinstein raped her in a hotel room and described the trauma she had experienced as a result.
Newsom revealed that she was terrified after being shown to his hotel room. When Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez asked her why she didn’t just leave, she replied, “Because you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein.” As the saying goes, “He has the power to either advance or derails your professional life.”
Taking the stand in both the New York and Los Angeles trials, Lauren Young claimed that in 2013, she told Weinstein “no” several times before he sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom.
In court, Young is identified as Jane Doe and claims she was terrified when Weinstein prevented her from leaving the bathroom, masturbated in front of her, and groped her breasts.
Young’s alleged encounter with Weinstein occurred in California, not New York, so she was not one of the accusers whose testimonies led to Weinstein’s conviction for rape and sexual assault and a 23-year prison sentence when she testified in February 2020. At the time, prosecutors needed her testimony as a “prior bad acts” witness to establish a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein against women.
While Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape in his 2020 New York sex crimes case, he was given the opportunity to appeal his sentence in August. First taken to New York’s Rikers Island, he was eventually transferred to a California county jail in 2021 to face additional charges of a similar nature.
Although Harvey Weinstein’s conviction in New York was upheld on appeal, the case will be heard by the state’s highest court in 2019. If his East Coast conviction is overturned, he will still be held on the conviction from California, which will almost certainly be appealed as well.