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Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty on Three Counts: Rape, Sexual Assault

harvey weinstein la verdict

Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty on one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault (forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by foreign object) of one woman at his sex crimes trial in Los Angeles on Monday.

The once high-flying Hollywood movie mogul was convicted after a trial that included harrowing, often graphic testimony from the four women linked to the seven felony charges. He was acquitted of one count of sexual battery; the jury was hung on the other three counts against him — one count of sexual battery by restraint, one count of forcible oral copulation and one count of rape. Weinstein had pleaded not guilty to all seven charges.

The verdict followed nearly three years after a separate jury convicted Weinstein of similar charges in New York. In that case, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Weinstein, 70, started the Los Angeles trial indicted on sexual assault involving five women. Prosecutors alleged he forcibly raped three of the women and sexually assaulted two others during attacks at high-end hotels in and around Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013. 

Shortly before jury selection began, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the filmmaker and wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that she was Jane Doe 4 in the case. She later told jurors that Weinstein invited her to the Peninsula Hotel in 2005 with a promise of discussing her acting career. She had not yet started dating Gov. Newsom at the time and said her career at that point involved “little roles” on TV and two “small roles” in feature films. Weinstein, meanwhile, was at the height of his powers, having already produced a long list of Oscar-winning films, including The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Chicago (2002).

“He was like the kingmaker, he was the top of the industry,” Siebel Newsom testified. “Yes, Harvey Weinstein was more powerful than me.”

In graphic detail, Siebel Newsom said Weinstein masturbated in front her, groped her, “grabbed” her and forced her onto a bed.

“He like lifted me and I don’t remember if he carried me or he like dragged me,” she testified through tears. She said Weinstein forced his penis inside of her over her obvious protests.

“He was just so big and so determined. He was like so aggressive. This is not, this was hell,” she testified. “I’m crying, I’m trembling, I’m shaking and I’m frozen too. I’m frozen. I don’t know what to do,” she said of her reaction. 

Following the verdict on Monday, Elizabeth Fegan, managing partner of FeganScott and attorney representing Jane Doe 4 and Ashley M, said in a statement: “My client, Jane Doe 4, shared her story not with an expectation to testify but to support all the survivors who bravely came forward. While we are heartened that the jury found Weinstein guilty on some of the counts, we are disappointed that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on Jane Doe 4. She will continue to fight for all women and all survivors of abuse against a system that permits the victim to be shamed and re-traumatized in the name of justice. 

“The bravery and courage demonstrated by these women will not be dimmed,” Fegan continued. “Their heroic actions have ensured that Harvey Weinstein will likely spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs, and that people like him understand the consequences of their actions.” 

Weinstein was in custody throughout the Los Angeles trial due to his 23-year prison sentence out of New York. It was in February 2020 that a Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty of two felony sex crimes: the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a DoubleTree hotel in Midtown Manhattan in 2013; and the first-degree sex assault of Mimi Haleyi.

The conviction came three years after a Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé helmed by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey revealed he had paid off sexual assault accusers for years. The blockbuster story opened the floodgates to scores of new allegations from other accusers including Siebel Newsom, who vaguely described some of her experience with Weinstein in a 2017 essay for the Huffington Post.

In his opening statement, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson made no mention of Jane Doe 5, leading many to speculate she might be dropped from the case. On Nov. 15, prosecutors confirmed she would not appear. They subsequently scratched the four counts related to her allegations Weinstein raped her on two separate occasions a year apart in Beverly Hills.

The remaining victims included an Italian model who has not identified herself publicly, massage therapist Juls Bindi and Lauren Young, a former actress who testified as a prior-bad-acts witness at Weinstein’s New York trial, telling jurors the producer sexually assaulted her in a hotel room at the Montage Beverly Hills in February 2013.

“There is no question that Harvey Weinstein was a predator,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said in her closing argument on Nov. 30 “For this predator, hotels were his trap. Confined within those walls victims were not able to run from his hulking mass. People were not able to hear their screams, they were not able to see them cower.”

Weinstein’s defense aggressively cross-examined the four women, highlighting inconsistencies in their statements or actions over the years. In the case of Siebel Newsom, Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman asked why she apparently testified for the first time at trial that Weinstein digitally penetrated her. He said that allegation didn’t come up in her grand jury testimony in 2020.

“I don’t recall being very prepared for very much of this with everything going on in my life,” Siebel Newsom responded. “I offered to talk to detectives initially to support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand.”

“You’re the wife of the governor of California at the time and you’re about to meet with the police and a deputy DA, and you didn’t think that the consequence of what you said was that you would be a victim in an indictment in a criminal indictment,” Werksman asked.

“I didn’t think I would be considered a victim because I thought I was out of the time period,” she said.

In his closing argument Dec. 1, defense lawyer Alan Jackson argued Siebel Newsom had “transactional sex” with Weinstein to further her career. He claimed Bindi did the same, arguing she pursued a book opportunity with Weinstein after her alleged attack, despite Bindi’s testimony to the contrary.

The Los Angeles trial took on added significance after a surprise ruling in August revived his appeal of his New York conviction. In the reversal of fortune, a higher appellate judge granted another review of his case after the First Judicial Department of New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division rejected his appeal in June.

Oral arguments in the resurrected appeal are expected before the summer. If Weinstein loses, he’ll likely serve his 23-year sentence in New York regardless of what happens in California. If he wins in New York, his Los Angeles County case could determine how he spends the rest of his life. 

Meanwhile, outside the U.S., prosecutors in the United Kingdom also announced in June that they had “authorized” two charges of “indecent assault” against Weinstein related to an incident in 1996.

No matter what happens in the legal system, Weinstein’s reputation and career are dead and buried after more than a hundred women including actors Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, Mira Sorvino, Salma Hayek, Rosanna Arquette, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paz de la Huerta, and Asia Argento stepped forward with claims Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.

This is a developing story…

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