Harvey Weinstein found guilty on 3 of 7 charges in Los Angeles
Updated December 20, 2022 at 2:25 PM ET
Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood whose many sex crimes helped ignite the #metoo movement, was convicted of 3 of 7 charges in his second sex crimes trial, this time in Los Angeles. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on 3 of the charges. The 70-year-old is already serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York.
Weinstein was charged with seven counts of raping and sexually assaulting four women from 2004 to 2013: a model, a dancer, a massage therapist and a producer. He was originally charged with four more charges, but those were dismissed when prosecutors said they were "unable to proceed" on the allegations made by a woman identified as Jane Doe 5.
"Casting couch culture" as defense
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson described Weinstein as a "predator," a "monster," a once-domineering media mogul at the top of his game, who used his prominence in the film industry to coerce aspiring young women into private meetings that quickly turned violent. For more than a month in court, eight former models and actors vividly described Weinstein attacking them in various hotel rooms.
"In 2005, who would have thought that the most powerful man in Hollywood was a closet rapist?" asked Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez during closing arguments. "We know the despicable behavior the defendant engaged in. He thought he was so powerful that people would excuse his behavior. That's just Harvey being Harvey. That's just Hollywood. And for so long that's what everyone did. Everyone just turned their heads."
She projected images of wolves and bear traps representing Weinstein and added, "It is time for the kingmaker to be brought to justice."
Weinstein denied all wrongdoing and did not testify during the trial. His attorneys called at least one of his accusers a "bimbo," and claimed the women had agreed to "transactional sex" with Weinstein in order to advance their careers in Hollywood. "In Hollywood, sex was a commodity," Weinstein's attorney, Mark Werksman told the jury, saying Weinstein's actions were part of a "casting couch culture."
Weinstein's defense tried to discredit the women's testimonies as "untrustworthy," and during closing arguments, attorney Alan Jackson referred to them as "fame and fortune seekers."
Jackson told jurors to look past the emotional testimonies. "Tears," he said, "do not make truth."
Four accusers testified
One of Weinstein's accusers was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom. During the trial, she tearfully told jurors about what she called her "nightmarish" encounters with him nearly 20 years ago, when she was an aspiring actress and filmmaker. Newsom testified that Weinstein invited her to meet to discuss her career at a hotel in Beverly Hills. She graphically described how he shoved her onto a bed and raped her.
After the verdict came down Jennifer Newsom released a statement saying "Harvey Weinstein will never be able to rape another woman. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs. Harvey Weinstein is a serial predator and what he did was rape.
"Throughout the trial, Weinstein's lawyers used sexism, misogyny, and bullying tactics to intimidate, demean, and ridicule us survivors. This trial was a stark reminder that we as a society have work to do. To all survivors out there — I see you, I hear you, and I stand with you."
Other women identified as "Jane Doe" included a licensed massage therapist actress and model Natassia Malthe, who detailed an alleged attack inside a London hotel.
The accusers also described "abnormalities" on Weinstein's genitalia, "the result of a surgery the defendant had in 1999 that caused noticeable scarring," according to prosecutors.
Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez was a witness during the trial, testifying about his "prior bad acts." In 2015, she filed a police report that spurred sex crimes prosecutors to investigate Weinstein. Gutierrez was part of a sting operation for the New York Police Department; she agreed to wear a wire to record Weinstein. The Manhattan district attorney at the time didn't end up prosecuting him, but the recording was played for jurors in Los Angeles.
Two years after Gutierrez's original police report, multiple allegations against Weinstein went public, with investigative reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker. More than 100 women came forward with harrowing accounts about the film executive.
The news ignited the #MeToo movement, which drew attention to sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace, not just in Hollywood, but in all of society. That movement has exposed sexual misconduct by very powerful men in business, politics and entertainment.
What's next for Weinstein?
Weinstein's legal saga is far from over.
In London, he faces criminal charges of indecent assault of a woman in 1996. His attorneys are now appealing his New York verdict; his representative Juda Engelmayer said Weinstein was disappointed the Los Angeles jury ruled in favor of Jane Doe #1, but that her testimony left a strong legal basis for appeal. "The logistics of the time and location of the alleged incident make no sense," Englemayerr said in a statement to NPR. "Harvey is grateful for the jury's work on the other counts, and he's determined to continue his legal challenges in ultimately proving his innocence."
Weinstein faces a possible sentence of 24 years in prison for his Los Angeles conviction, meaning he could stay behind bars for the rest of his life.
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