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#MeToo: Harvey convicted of sexual assault, acquitted of being a serial predator


NEW YORK: Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault by a New York jury on Monday, but acquitted of the most serious charges that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life.

Once one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, an aspiring actress, in 2013.

He faces up to 25 years in prison for the conviction of sexual assault.

The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which led to a possible life sentence and Mann’s first-degree rape.

The case was a milestone for the #MeToo movement that inspired women to make public allegations of misconduct against powerful men.

During his trial, Weinstein often seemed weak, entering the courthouse with a walker. Sometimes he relied on his main lawyer, Donna Rotunno, for support.

“He has taken some good acting advice,” actress Rose McGowan said at the start of the trial on January 6 while organizing a protest near the court along with actress Rosanna Arquette and other Weinstein accusers.

Weinstein left his mark with critically acclaimed films such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

More than 80 women, including famous actresses, accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior for decades. He denied the accusations and said that any sexual encounter was agreed upon.

Paul Callan, a former New York prosecutor who is not involved in the case, said Weinstein had strong arguments to argue that the verdict should be overturned on appeal due to bias, and noted that one of the jurors was the author. of an upcoming book about teenagers. and older men “predators”.

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had manipulated the women with the promise of opening doors in Hollywood, taking them to hotel rooms or private apartments and then overwhelming and violently attacking them.

“The man sitting there was not only a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist,” said Manhattan District Deputy Prosecutor Meghan Hast during the initial arguments.

Sitting at the defense table, Weinstein often seemed impassive, although sometimes he looked closely at his lawyers when they questioned his accusers.

‘Jekyll and Hyde’

During the many weeks of trial, the prosecution methodically obtained graphic testimonies from several accusers, including Haleyi, who said Weinstein invited her to her SoHo home after she had worked in one of her television productions.

After she arrived, Weinstein accommodated her in a room, held her in bed and forced herself to do it orally, taking out her tampon, Haleyi told the jury.

An aspiring actress, Mann said that shortly after meeting Weinstein, she entered into an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that never included sexual intercourse until, according to her, he raped her in 2013.

He described Weinstein as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character: he was charming in public but often showed terrifying anger when they were alone, Mann said.

At one point, he began to sob uncontrollably on the stage, which caused the judge to finish the testimony early in the day.

Weinstein was accused of assaulting Haleyi and Mann, but prosecutors reinforced his case by calling other accusers as witnesses.

One of these women, “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, told the jury that Weinstein entered her apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her.

Although the accusation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, prosecutors offered to show that Weinstein was a repeat sex offender.

Three other women, costume designer Dawn Dunning, model Tarale Wulff and actress Lauren Young, testified that they were attracted to meet Weinstein for professional reasons and then groped or raped.

The testimony of “previous bad acts” is generally not allowed in criminal trials, but an exception to the law allowed prosecutors to call these women to show that Weinstein had a particular intention or pattern of characteristic behavior.

Legal experts said the women provided powerful evidence that was difficult to overcome for the defense.

Dunning testified that the producer groped her in 2004 and offered her roles in the cinema in exchange for tripartite sex with him and his assistant, which she rejected.

Young, model and actress, testified that the producer caught her in a hotel bathroom in 2013, masturbated in front of her while touching her breasts and said: “This is what all actresses do to achieve it.”

‘Last line of defense’

Throughout the case, the defense said that repentance led accusers to take consensual incidents and rethink them as crimes.

Weinstein’s lawyers focused on friendly messages and continued contact between women and Weinstein.

During Haleyi’s interrogation, for example, the defense showed him a message that he sent to Weinstein signed “much love” after his alleged attack.

Defense attorneys repeatedly suggested that Mann voluntarily had sex with Weinstein to advance his career.

Weinstein never testified in his defense, although he told reporters that he had loved him. One of his lawyers said the case was too weak to justify putting him on the stand.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Rotunno, told the jury during the final allegations that they were “the last line of defense” against “excessively jealous” prosecution and that women were “responsible” for the “decisions they make to advance their own careers “.

Prosecutors rejected claims that their accusers were not credible and the notion that they were responsible for the alleged attacks.

Assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi said it was irrelevant if they had continuous contact with Weinstein after the alleged attacks.

Illuzzi rejected a defense claim that Mann had a romantic relationship with Weinstein, but said it wouldn’t matter if she had been “madly in love with him.”

“He still wouldn’t be allowed to rape her on March 18, 2013,” he said.

Weinstein still faces charges of sexual assault in California, which were announced a few hours after his rape trial began in New York, and dozens of women have filed civil lawsuits against him.

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