Harvey Weinstein verdict: Jury convicts on rape, one other sex crime

Harvey Weinstein

By Rebecca Rosenberg

Capping one of the most dramatic falls from power in Hollywood history, Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday on one rape and one criminal sex act count, guilty verdicts that could put him in prison for up to 29 years.

The shamed former movie producer, 67, was found guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree for forcibly performing oral sex on former “Project Runway” production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and rape in the third degree for an attack on hairstylist Jessica Mann.

But the verdict wasn’t a total victory for prosecutors. The seven-man, five-woman jury found Weinstein not guilty of the top charges of predatory sexual assault, which carried a life sentence, and rape in the first degree involving Mann.

Manhattan Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and her co-counsel, Meghan Hast, had argued that Weinstein preyed on vulnerable, naive women who tried to pursue professional relationships with him to advance their careers — only to be sexually attacked.

The once-powerful Hollywood mogul stared straight ahead as the verdicts were read in Manhattan Supreme Court.

First-degree criminal sexual act carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years, while third-degree rape carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke ordered Weinstein remanded until he is sentenced next month.

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In order to have convicted Weinstein of either of the top charges, jurors must have unanimously agreed that Weinstein raped “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra and either forcibly performed oral sex on Haleyi or raped Mann.

The prosecutors paraded 28 emotional witnesses in front of the jury, including six women who tearfully recounted their experiences in harrowing detail, although Weinstein was not charged in three of their cases.

“To the defendant, it has been said he was the master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on without consequences,” Illuzzi-Orbon said in her closing statements.

“When you’re the only one and he’s a giant — not only in his own industry — but he’s someone who gets presidents on the phone and he’s talking to A-listers and people you will never meet in your entire life … you’re really freaking hesitant to report,” she said of Weinstein’s accusers, many of whom did not report their claims to authorities.

Haleyi testified that he invited her to his Soho apartment, where he held her down and forcibly performed oral sex on her on July 10, 2006.

Sciorra told the jury that Weinstein barged into her apartment in the winter months of 1993-1994, held her down by her wrists and violently raped her before ejaculating on her heirloom nightie. Her allegations were backed up by pal Rosie Perez, who told jurors Sciorra confided in her about the rape.

Defense lawyers Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis countered that the accusers had consensual sex with Weinstein that they later regretted and only “relabeled” as rape for the jury.

“The irony is the ADAs, in this case, are the producers, and they are writing the script. In their story, they’ve created a universe that strips adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility,” Rotunno said in her closings.

“In this script, a powerful man is the villain, and he is so unattractive and large that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily. Regret does not exist in this world, only regret renamed as rape,” she said.

She reminded the jury that Mann and Haleyi admitted on the stand that they had consensual sex with Weinstein after the alleged attacks. They also continued to send him affectionate emails and accept his gifts, including tickets to premieres and invitations to Oscar parties.

The defense called seven witnesses, including Weinstein pal Paul Feldsher, who said Sciorra told him days after the alleged rape that she had done something crazy with Weinstein, casting the encounter as unseemly but consensual.

They also tapped Mann’s ex-friend Talita Maia, who said Mann called Weinstein her “spiritual soulmate” who had given her the “best orgasm” she ever had.

The other three accusers who took the stand — model Lauren Young, waitress Tarale Wulff and aspiring actress Dawn Dunning — were permitted to testify about uncharged conduct to show a pattern of predatory behavior.

“They came to be heard,” Illuzzi-Orbon said in her closing, referring to the trio. “They sacrificed their dignity, their privacy and their peace for the prospect of having that voice and their voices would be enough for justice.”

Weinstein, a father of five, has maintained his innocence from the outset of the case, pleading not guilty to all of the charges and claiming that all of his sexual encounters were consensual.

He never took the witness stand during the more than month-long trial, but had told reporters that he “wanted to” testify.

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Throughout the trial, the fallen Hollywood tycoon appeared mostly in good spirits as he shuffled in and out of the courthouse using a walker.

At times he was seen laughing at questions from reporters, and sometimes giving one-line comments to reporters on the testimony of the day.

Since 2017, when the New York Times and The New Yorker published bombshell exposés into allegations of sexual abuse by the filmmaker, he has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 90 women.

Weinstein faces a second trial in Los Angeles.

In January, on the eve of jury selection in the Manhattan trial, Weinstein was slapped with sex crime charges in Los Angeles stemming from two separate incidents in two days over 2013.

Young’s accusations that Weinstein sexually assaulted her at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel partially make up the basis of the criminal charges brought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Additional reporting by Natalie Musumeci

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