April 7, 2020

Harvey Weinstein guilty over sexual assaults

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From BBC

GETTY IMAGES

Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of sexual assault, capping a stunning downfall for the former Hollywood mogul and a victory for the #MeToo movement against harassment.

Weinstein, 67, was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act.

But he was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

He still faces charges in Los Angeles of assaulting two women in 2013.

At least 80 women had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

The movie executive once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

What happened in the New York court?

The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations.

Weinstein – who denied all charges – was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013.

But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann.

In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.

But the judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately. He was surrounded by court officers, handcuffed and led from the courtroom. He will be sentenced on 11 March.

Weinstein turned up before the verdict wearing a navy blue suit and leaning on a walking frame.

Mimi Haleyi
Image captionWeinstein sexually assaulted former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006
The prosecution's key witness, Jessica Mann (C) arrives at Manhattan criminal court
Image captionWeinstein raped former aspiring actress Jessica Mann (centre) in 2013

What were the allegations?

Ms Haleyi, who had worked on one of Weinstein’s television productions, said she was assaulted by the producer after he invited her to his Lower Manhattan home.

She testified that he backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her.

Ms Mann said that she found herself in an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that did not involve intercourse until he raped her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.

Actress Annabella Sciorra arrives in Manhattan Criminal Court, on January 23, 2020 in New York City
Image captionSciorra said Weinstein, on another occasion, showed up to her Cannes hotel room with baby oil

She said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure who could be charming in public but showed his dark side when they were alone.

Another one of Weinstein’s accusers, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors he raped her in her apartment one night in the mid-1990s.

Her allegation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, but prosecutors used it in an attempt to demonstrate that the accused was a repeat sexual offender.

As part of prosecutors’ efforts to show a pattern of predatory behaviour, three other women testified they were lured to apparent work meetings with Weinstein, then sexually assaulted.

How did the trial play out?

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and violently attack women.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said during opening arguments: “The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist.”

But the defence team said the accusers had had consensual sex with the movie executive to advance their careers, and the allegations amounted to “regret renamed as rape”.

Media captionHired by Weinstein to extract information on celebrities

They pointed out that two of the accusers had kept in contact with Weinstein, exchanged flirty emails with him and had sex with him after he had attacked them.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, told jurors in closing arguments they were “the last line of defence” against an “overzealous” prosecution.

How did we get here?

Weinstein was once one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood, with dozens of Academy Award wins for his films.

Allegations started to emerge about him in October 2017. The story was broken by the New York Times, which published details of decades of alleged incidents of harassment.

Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations.

Over the following weeks, dozens more allegations emerged and Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company.

Despite continuing to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex, he was all but banished from Hollywood.

Allegations against him helped drive the #MeToo campaign against sexual misconduct, where victims shared their experiences of assault and harassment.

Some criminal investigations were launched but he was not charged until May 2018, when he turned himself in to police in New York.

What will happen now?

Weinstein still has to face charges in Los Angeles, which were announced on the first day he appeared in court in New York.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said the charges relate to the alleged rape of one woman and sexual assault of another over two days in 2013.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey, when announcing the charges, said other cases were also still under review.

Further investigations into Weinstein’s conduct are still possible, while there are also ongoing civil complaints against him too.

In December 2019, lawyers said they had agreed a tentative deal with some accusers, which would pay out $25m (£19m) to nearly 30 actresses and ex-employees.

For more on this story and video go to; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51621041

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