NBC NEWS – Harvey Weinstein, the once-powerful Hollywood mogul, was found guilty of rape in the third degree on Monday, capping a landmark trial of the #MeToo era.
The jury in New York convicted Weinstein, 67, of third-degree rape against former aspiring actress Jessica Mann, as well as a count of criminal sexual act in the first-degree against former production assistant Mimi Haley. But the jury found him not guilty on the two most serious counts, predatory sexual assault, as well as a count of first-degree rape against Mann.
In all, more than 80 women have accused the Oscar-winning producer behind “Pulp Fiction” and “The King’s Speech” of sexual assault and harassment going back decades, though the charges were based primarily on allegations from former production assistant Mimi Haley and former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
But in more than a month inside a Manhattan court, prosecutors called four other accusers as witnesses who could testify about Weinstein’s alleged pattern of serial abuse, including “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused him of raping her in the early 1990s.
Weinstein pleaded not guilty in the case and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex. His lawyers argued the trial was an example of the #MeToo movement having run amok, and repeatedly attempted to raise doubts about his accusers’ credibility and motivations in coming forward.
The flood of allegations against Weinstein, first reported in October 2017 by investigative journalists at The New York Times and The New Yorker, fueled the global reckoning over sexual misconduct by powerful men in entertainment, the news media, finance and other high-profile industries.
The trial centered on graphic testimony from Haley and Mann, who each recounted that Weinstein lured them with promises to help their careers and forced himself on them as they tried to fight back.
Haley alleged Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Manhattan apartment in 2006. Mann broke down sobbing as she said Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. She told jurors she believed he injected his penis to induce an erection before he assaulted her.
The prosecutors, meanwhile, attempted to paint the once-mighty film executive as a sexual predator who harassed and assaulted women with impunity, using his reputation as a Hollywood power broker and star-maker to silence his alleged victims.
The defense, for its part, attempted to portray the plaintiffs as consenting participants in sexual activity. Weinstein’s lawyers zeroed in on email correspondence after the alleged assaults that they described as friendly or “loving,” and otherwise suggested the alleged sexual activity was transactional.
Weinstein entered the Manhattan courthouse most days hunched over a walker because of what has been described as back problems. He sometimes stared straight at the jury box and occasionally reacted to testimony, lowering his head when Mann described what she characterized as his abnormal genitalia.
The end of the New York trial does not spell the end of legal action against Weinstein. He also faces a sex crimes case in Los Angeles, where he is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents on two consecutive days in 2013. He has yet to enter a plea in that case.