A Los Angeles jury has reached a verdict in the second criminal trial of the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women. The trial lasted more than four weeks and included testimony from 49 witnesses. The outcome is expected to be announced in court shortly.
Weinstein, 70, was charged with seven criminal counts involving four different women. The charges included three counts of forcible rape, two counts of sexual battery by restraint, one count of forcible oral copulation and one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Weinstein is already serving a 23-year prison sentence after a New York jury convicted him in 2020 of rape in the third degree and a first-degree criminal sex act.
The former Hollywood mogul and co-founder of the entertainment company Miramax — which produced acclaimed movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” — became the focus of a litany of sex abuse allegations that helped spark the rise of the #MeToo movement five years ago.
He originally faced 11 charges in Los Angeles that could have amounted to a 65-year prison sentence had the jury found him guilty on all counts. However, in a decision announced last month, Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench dropped four of the original charges against Weinstein involving an accuser identified in an indictment as Jane Doe #5. The fifth accuser was not mentioned in prosecutors’ opening statements and she did not testify during Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has not explained why those counts were dropped.
The allegations brought against Weinstein in Los Angeles directly involved four women, all of whom were referred to as Jane Doe in court, and an additional four appeared in court to testify. Two accusers remained anonymous. The first, known as Jane Doe #1, a Russian actor and model now based in Italy, gave an emotional three days of testimony and was the first witness to take the stand. The second, Jane Doe #3, testified that Weinstein trapped her in a hotel bathroom and assaulted her when she was hired to give him a massage in 2010.
The other accusers have identified themselves publicly. They are Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who testified in mid-November; Lauren Young, the only accuser who testified against Weinstein at both his Los Angeles and New York trials; Kelly Sipherd; Ambra Battilana Gutierrez; Natassia Malthe; and Ashley Matthau.
Weinstein’s criminal trial in Los Angeles followed his first widely-publicized trial in New York. In February 2020, he was convicted of rape in the third degree and a first-degree criminal sex act, but was found not guilty of three other, more serious charges, including predatory sexual assault, which could have led to a life sentence. Weinstein is currently appealing the New York conviction.
More than 80 women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against Weinstein stretching back several decades. Many of them spoke out on the heels of 2017 reports by The New York Times and New Yorker that initially exposed the allegations and shared some women’s stories.
The investigative reports, and the wave of allegations against Weinstein that followed, served as catalysts in the reckoning over sexual misconduct and absuses of power, in Hollywood and elsewhere, that swept the country and came to be known as #MeToo. In a chain reaction sometimes called the Weinstein effect, people increasingly spoke out about their experiences with sexual assault and misconduct involving influential or otherwise powerful men.
Among those who have publicly accused Weinstein of misconduct in some form are actors Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Kate Beckinsale, Cate Blanchett, Rosanna Arquette, Salma Hayek, Helena Bonham Carter and Paz de la Huerta, along with many more.
- Harvey Weinstein
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