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Hollywood producer found guilty of 3rd degree rape & 1st degree sex assault- avoids top charges

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Harvey Weinstein guilty
Harvey Weinstein guilty.
Harvey Weinstein guilty
Harvey Weinstein guilty. Image via AP.

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault of former production assistant, Miriam Haley & third degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann. Avoids top charges against him in verdict.

Hollywood producer accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein was on Monday convicted of rape in the third degree and sexual assault in the first degree by a Manhattan jury.  

But a jury found him not guilty of the top charge predatory sexual assault, meaning the Oscar winner dodged a possible life sentence. The formerly revered producer now faces a possible 29 years behind bars.

Deadline reported Weinstein being convicted of forcibly performing oral sex on former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006, a count which carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of up to 25 years.

The count of rape also convicted Weinstein of rape in the third degree on another woman, aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. That count carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Weinstein was acquitted of three further charges, including the two most serious counts of predatory sexual assault which carried a possible life sentence and an alternative count of rape in the first degree.

The jury’s verdict, in the fifth day of intense deliberations, came a month after Jan. 22 opening arguments in the Lower Manhattan courthouse.

Following his convictions, Weinstein was ordered held behind bars Monday until his March 11 sentencing.

Cyrus Vance Jr, the New York district attorney who lead the prosecution, following the mogul’s conviction described Weinstein as ‘a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims’.

‘Rape is rape,’ Vance said, whether committed ‘in a dark alley by a strange’ or by ‘a man of immense power and privilege.’

The verdict today ‘marks a new era of justice’, said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time’s Up foundation which works against workplace sexual misconduct.

Offered Tchen in part, ‘While we celebrate this historic moment, our fight to fix the broken system that has allowed serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein to abuse women in the first place continues. Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: there’s no going back.’

The statements follow public outrage as to how the powerful Hollywood producer who could make or break an actor’s career was able to continue sexually assaulting his victims in an ‘open secret’ while avoiding repercussions.

The decision followed a tumultuous week where the jury of seven men and five women asked if they could deliver a divided verdict in the extraordinarily high-profile prosecution of the exceptionally well-known defendant. The panel indicated in a Friday note that they were hung up on the top counts of predatory sexual assault.

Oscar winning producer maintains sexual encounters were consensual: 

The 67-year-old disgraced defendant, who opted not to testify in his own defense, heard the verdict along with his high-powered defense team inside the jam-packed courtroom.

The Oscar-winning producer of “Shakespeare in Love” was accused in the last three years by some 90 women with sexual misconduct ranging from insensitive to indictable across the decades. Weinstein, who still faces criminal charges in California, has maintained that all the sexual encounters were consensual.

The former Hollywood mogul trial marked the highest-profile #MeToo prosecution since comedian Bill Cosby’s April 2018 sexual assault conviction.

Manhattan jurors convicted Weinstein of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and sexually assaulting his former production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006, with both women taking the stand to testify against him.

Four other accusers, including Emmy-nominated actress Annabella Sciorra of ‘The Sopranos,’ testified about their unwanted sexual encounters with Weinstein as prosecutors presented the jury with evidence of an alleged pattern of horrific behavior.

Actress Rosie Perez recounted how a terrified Sciorra, after telling her that she was raped by the filmmaker, explained why she didn’t go to the police: The powerful Weinstein, a friend of President Clinton and his wife Hillary, would ‘destroy me.’

Harvey Weinstein guilty: Witnesses told of being overpowered & or threatened: 

Weinstein’s defense team called just on seven witnesses, while prosecutors summoned 28 people to testify — with their case anchored by the emotional accounts delivered through  half-dozen accusers.

In a detailed account, Sciorra described in detail Weinstein bursting into her Manhattan apartment in 1993-94 and allegedly raped the 110-pound actress.

‘He kept coming at me,’ said Sciorra, the first Weinstein accuser to testify against him at a criminal trial. ‘I felt overpowered because he was very big. … I was just trying to get away from him and he put my hands over my head to hold me back, and he got on top of me and he raped me.’

Mann, who spent three days on the witness stand, told jurors how the disgraced Hollywood mogul raped her inside his room at The DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan’s Midtown East on March 18, 2013.

Mann said that after trapping her inside his room, Weinstein instructed her ‘like a drill sergeant’ to get undressed before forcefully raping her. After the assault, she discovered a just-used needle inside a bathroom trash can — left there by Weinstein, who injected himself with an unknown drug to get an erection.

Complex relationship & abuse of power: 

Mann also accused the “Pulp Fiction” producer of raping her a second time at The Pensinsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in November 2013.

Mann during cross-examination described her ‘complex’ relationship with Weinstein one that included sexual encounters that were non-consensual, consensual and often forced or coerced.

Haley, a Swedish citizen who worked briefly off-the-books as a production assistant on the set of “Project Runway,” testified that Weinstein lured her to his SoHo loft in summer 2006. He proceeded to pin her to a bed and perform forcible oral sex.

‘I started realizing what was actually happening: I’m being raped,’ Haley testified. ‘He held me down on the bed and he forced himself on me orally. I was on my period. I had a tampon in there, I was mortified.’

Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead lawyer, following the conviction has since said she planned to file an appeal, while saying her client took the verdict, ‘like a man.’ 

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