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Harvey Weinstein facing jail after being found guilty in landmark MeToo moment

The 67-year-old heard the verdict that could send him to prison for up to 29 years.


Harvey Weinstein (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Harvey Weinstein (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Harvey Weinstein (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Harvey Weinstein has been convicted of rape and sexual assault against two women and was immediately led off to jail in handcuffs, sealing his fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to arch villain of the MeToo movement.

The 67-year-old had a look of resignation on his face as he heard the verdict that could send him to prison for up to 29 years.

“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America, I believe, and it is a new day. It is a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed,” district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said.

“Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault and trick, humiliate and silence his victims.”

Weinstein’s lawyers said they will appeal.

“Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man,” defence lawyer Donna Rotunno said. “He knows that we will continue to fight for him, and we know that this is not over.”

Another of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, quoted Weinstein as telling as his legal team: “I’m innocent. How could this happen in America?”

The jury of seven men and five women took five days to find Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her.

He was acquitted on the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying a sentence of up to life in prison. Both of those counts hinged on the word of Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein barged into her apartment, raped her and forcibly performed oral sex on her in the mid-1990s.

Weinstein's lawyerrs Arthur Aidala and Donna Rotunno
Weinstein’s lawyerrs Arthur Aidala and Donna Rotunno (John Minchillo/AP)

The sexual assault charge carries up to 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape count is punishable by up to four years. Sentencing was set for March 11.

Judge James Burke ordered him taken to jail immediately. Court officers surrounded Weinstein, handcuffed him and led him out of the courtroom through a side door without the use of the walking frame he used during much of the trial.

The judge said he will ask that Weinstein, who had been free on bail since his arrest nearly two years ago, be held in the infirmary after his lawyers said he needs medical attention following unsuccessful back surgery.

The conviction was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behaviour 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.

In addition to the three women he was charged with attacking, three more who said they were also attacked gave evidence as part of an effort by prosecutors to show a pattern of brutish behaviour.

“Weinstein with his manipulation, his resources, his attorneys, his publicists and his spies did everything he could to silence to survivors,” Mr Vance said after the verdict.

Cyrus Vance Jr
Cyrus Vance Jr (Craig Ruttle/AP)

He saluted the women who came forward, saying they changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence and “pulled our justice system into the 21st century”.

In the case of the unidentified woman he was accused of raping, the jury acquitted Weinstein of first-degree rape, which requires the use of force or the threat of it, and found him guilty of third-degree rape, which involves a lack of consent.

While Weinstein did not give evidence, his lawyers contended that any sexual contact was consensual and his accusers went to bed with him to get ahead in Hollywood.

The defence seized on the fact that the two women he was convicted of attacking stayed in contact with him through warm and even flirty emails — and had sex with him — well after he supposedly attacked them.

Weinstein now faces charges in Los Angeles. In that case, announced just as the New York trial was getting under way on January 6, authorities allege he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights during Oscars week in 2013.