Film producer Harvey Weinstein is handcuffed after his guilty verdict in his sexual assault trial at the New York Criminal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., February 24, 2020 in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters)
NEW YORK – Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury on Monday and handcuffed in court, a milestone verdict for the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.
Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.
Weinstein was acquitted on the most serious charges that carried a potential life sentence.
Justice James Burke ordered Weinstein to be held in custody and he was put in handcuffs by officers in court. Officers helped Weinstein unsteadily to his feet before leading him away.
He faces up to 25 years in prison on the sexual assault conviction. The sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 11. He was also convicted of third degree rape which carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.
Lawyers for Weinstein asked that he be taken to a facility where he could receive medical treatment. Weinstein was being taken to a medical facility at Rikers Island jail, lawyer Arthur Aidala said outside the courtroom.
“We will have a very professional appeal done by the best and the brightest in the business,” Aidala said.
Aidala quoted Weinstein as saying to him after the verdict, “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”
Weinstein still faces sexual assault charges in California, which were announced just hours after his New York trial began on Jan. 6. Dozens of women have filed civil lawsuits against him.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said at a news conference: “It’s a new day because Weinstein has finally been held accountable.” He praised the jurors. “Your verdict turned a page in our criminal justice system.
“To the survivors: I owe and we owe an immense debt of courage to you,” Vance said.
The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first degree rape of Mann. A conviction on predatory sexual assault would have meant the jury had concluded he was a repeat sexual offender.
“This trial – and the jury’s decision today – marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work,” said Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of Time’s Up, one of the groups that advocated on behalf of women who made allegations.
Weinstein made his mark with critically acclaimed films such as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.
More than 80 women, including famous actresses, had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. He had denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual. (Reuters)