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Harvey Weinstein convicted of rape in L.A. trial

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A Los Angeles jury on Monday found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and a third sexual misconduct charge after a weeks-long trial detailing harrowing allegations against him, according to the Associated Press. This was the former Hollywood producer’s second criminal trial; he is currently serving a 23-year sentence in New York state prison, though he was granted an appeal earlier this year.

The convictions were related to one victim. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on three additional counts involving two other women, and Weinstein was acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by another woman, the AP reported.

Weinstein faces a prison sentence of up to 24 years, according to the wire service.

While the sexual misconduct allegations against him prompted a surge in the #MeToo movement several years ago, Weinstein, 70, remains one of the few high-profile accused figures to face actual legal repercussions. The Los Angeles jury deliberated for 10 days, in multiple instances asking for certain testimony to be read back, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement to The Washington Post that he was “of course disappointed that the jury was split on some of the counts, but hope its partial verdicts bring at least some measure of justice to the victims.” He thanked “the survivors in this case, who exhibited extraordinary bravery in a case that put them in the national spotlight,” as well as the jurors for serving in such a “lengthy trial.”

“Our team will meet to determine whether or not we intend to retry the counts that were hung,” Gascón added.

Weinstein’s attorneys have not yet returned a request for comment.

In October 2017, following explosive reports in the New York Times and New Yorker detailing decades of rape and sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein, authorities in New York, London and Los Angeles launched investigations into the film executive’s alleged behavior. He was charged in New York in May 2018 on counts of rape and sexual abuse related to two separate accusers; just hours after that trial began in January 2020, he was charged in Los Angeles with the sexual assaults of two different women in incidents said to have taken place in 2013.

In February 2020, the New York jury found that Weinstein had forced oral sex on a production assistant in 2006 and raped an aspiring actress in 2013, but it acquitted him of the most severe charges of predatory sexual assault. He received the 23-year state prison sentence the following month. In July 2021, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office indicted Weinstein on charges of sexually assaulting five different women in incidents spanning a decade. He was extradited for the indictment from New York to Los Angeles, where he pleaded not guilty to every count.

The Los Angeles trial kicked off in October following a failed bid from Weinstein’s lawyers to push court proceedings in an attempt to avoid overlap with the “swirl of adverse publicity” his team believed would accompany the November release of “She Said,” a feature-film rendering of the New York Times’ real-life investigation into Weinstein.

In opening statements, which began Oct. 24, prosecutors argued there was a pattern to how Weinstein — who long had a reputation in the entertainment industry for aggressive behavior, especially as it related to awards season campaign tactics — allegedly targeted young women in Hollywood and threatened to harm their careers if they spoke up.

Multiple women who remained anonymous testified during the trial. The first, Jane Doe #1, said that she met Weinstein at a Los Angeles film festival in 2013 and that he showed up at her hotel room afterward, demanding he be let in, according to Deadline. She recalled “panicking with fear” as he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him, and stated to the jury that she “wanted to die” as he assaulted her in the bathroom. She added, “I wish this never happened to me.”

All three of the convictions against Weinstein announced Monday involved allegations made by Jane Doe #1, the AP reported.

Jane Doe #2, an aspiring actress and playwright who previously testified in the New York trial as a supporting witness, also said Weinstein assaulted her in a hotel bathroom in 2013, according to Variety. Jane Doe #2 had showed up to the hotel expecting to pitch a script to Weinstein in the lobby, as was arranged by a relatively new friend of hers. Instead, the accuser said, the friend led her to Weinstein’s hotel suite and then left, shutting the door behind her.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge involving Jane Doe #2, identified by the AP as Lauren Young.

Variety reported that another accuser, a masseuse identified as Jane Doe #3, testified that Weinstein trapped her in a hotel bathroom, where he allegedly groped and yelled at her while masturbating. She said she agreed to see him again on the condition that he not make her uncomfortable again, but that he repeated the behavior later on.

Jurors acquitted Weinstein of the felony sexual battery charge involving Jane Doe #3, according to Variety.

Among the most high-profile accusers to testify was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 48, the documentary filmmaker and former actress married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Siebel Newsom, whose attorney previously confirmed to The Washington Post that Siebel Newsom was the accuser referred to in court filings as Jane Doe #4, accused Weinstein of raping her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2005 when they met to discuss her career. She said she hadn’t expected him to be alone when she arrived, according to the AP, and that he groped her while masturbating before he then raped her.

An emotional Siebel Newsom recalled feeling nervous after she was directed to Weinstein’s hotel suite, but said in court that she didn’t leave because “you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein. He could make or ruin your career.”

The jury was hung on the charges involving Siebel Newsom, the AP reported Monday.

“Harvey Weinstein will never be able to rape another woman. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs,” she said in a statement to the wire service after the verdict was announced. “Throughout the trial, Weinstein’s lawyers used sexism, misogyny, and bullying tactics to intimidate, demean, and ridicule us survivors. The trial was a stark reminder that we as a society have work to do.”

Prosecutors aimed to highlight a pattern in Weinstein’s alleged behavior by calling upon “prior bad acts” accusers. One of them, model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, in 2015 participated in a New York sting operation by recording audio of Weinstein in which he admits to groping her and says he is “used to” behaving that way, the New Yorker reported.

Weinstein did not testify in his own defense. His lawyers pointed to what they claimed were inconsistencies in some of the accusers’ testimonies, including specific details related to Jane Doe #1’s claim that Weinstein demanded she perform oral sex on him. Prosecutors established in opening statements that Weinstein has abnormal genitalia due to a 1999 surgery in which his testicles were removed from his scrotum and relocated to his inner thighs, Variety reported. Alan Jackson, an attorney representing Weinstein, claimed that Jane Doe #1’s story changed after hearing of Weinstein’s irregular genitalia, while she maintained that she had previously made note of it to police.

British prosecutors in June authorized charges against Weinstein, citing two counts of indecent assault against a woman in 1996. (He cannot be arrested and formally charged unless extradited to England or Wales.) In August, over two years after Weinstein’s New York conviction, the state’s highest court granted him an appeal.

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