A Los Angeles jury on Monday found Harvey Weinstein guilty of raping a woman, delivering a verdict that further condemns the disgraced film titan whose treatment of women helped fuel the #MeToo movement.
The decision all but ensures Weinstein, who is 70, in poor health and currently serving a 23-year sentence in New York for other rapes, will spend the rest of his life behind bars. He is due to be sentenced in the Los Angeles case early next year but must complete his current sentence before being transferred to California.
After a bitter trial that stretched over a month, the jury deliberated for more than nine days before re-convicting Weinstein of violent rape, violent oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign body. The charges were based on a woman’s account of an attack on her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 by Weinstein.
The jury either acquitted Weinstein or failed to reach a verdict on charges based on allegations by three other women who also accused him of raping or sexually assaulting them in hotel rooms between 2004 and 2013.
Weinstein’s legal troubles in LA began on the eve of his Manhattan trial in January 2020, when prosecutors here filed an initial indictment against him based on the claims of two women. More fees would follow.
It was one of those early prosecutors, an Italian model identified in court as Jane Doe 1, on whose charges the jury convicted Weinstein. Weinstein, she said, stormed into her room at the Beverly Hills hotel during a film festival to brutally assault her. She reported the attack to the Los Angeles Police Department in October 2017, shortly after articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein, which helped spark the #MeToo movement and career to end one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.
The second woman, Lauren Young, accused Weinstein of luring her into a hotel suite with an offer to discuss a screenplay she was writing and then groping her in a bathroom while he masturbated. Young first described her alleged assault during the New York trial, where she was among several women testifying about so-called “previous bad deeds” by Weinstein that were not part of the charges against him.
More than 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since 2017. The Miramax co-founder, once hailed as the driving force behind many cult films including Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and The English Patient, has now erased it from the film industry’s collective memory. The studio that bore his name is gone, and the awe he once inspired has been replaced with disgust.
After the initial charges, Weinstein was charged with additional counts of sexual assault last year. That new group of accusers included Jennifer Siebel Newsom, now the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who alleged that Weinstein raped her during a meeting intended to discuss her budding acting career.
During two days of emotional testimony last month, Siebel Newsom said a group of Weinstein’s aides left her alone with Weinstein in a hotel suite. They discussed foreign film projects, but he seemed disinterested and retired to a bathroom, she recalled. He showed up in a robe and started masturbating, she testified. Over the next 45 minutes, she said, Weinstein repeatedly tried to force her to have sex and claims a number of other A-list actresses slept with him in order to get ahead in Hollywood.
Siebel Newsom said she felt “like an inflatable doll” during the rape. Eventually, she said, she made “pleasure noises” in hopes of stopping the attack.
“I’m shaking. I’m crying. He knows this isn’t approval at all,” she testified.
In her closing argument, Deputy Dist. atty Marlene Martinez told jurors the attack on Siebel Newsom was one of several that showed Weinstein had a predatory method. He used the promise of career advancement to get women alone, and after a mugging, he would arrange further meetings with the women or offer them film roles, Martinez said. The follow-up meetings or offers, she argued, served to protect against rape allegations by making it appear that the women had willingly traded sex for professional help.
“For this predator, hotels were their trap,” Martinez said. “Closed within these walls, the victims could not flee from its massive mass. People couldn’t hear her screams.”
Weinstein has denied any wrongdoing. His defense attorneys, Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson, argued that the attacks alleged by Jane Doe 1 and Young never took place. Lawyers acknowledged that Weinstein had sexual relationships with Siebel Newsom and Juls Bindi — a masseuse who claimed Weinstein groped her and masturbated in front of her in 2010 — but Werksman described their interactions as “transactional.”
Bindi, they said, was offered a book deal by Miramax’s publishers after they met. Siebel Newsom stayed in touch with Weinstein about future film projects and later approached Weinstein, a senior Democratic donor, for contributions to her husband’s campaigns.
Defense attorneys also argued that many of the women were opportunists, taking advantage of the outpouring of anger at powerful, abusive men that the #MeToo movement fueled to rewrite the consensual “casting couch” relationships as rape.
In his opening statement, Werksman said that Siebel Newsom’s rape allegations are the only thing keeping her from being “just another bimbo” who slept with Weinstein to further her acting career.
During his closing argument, Jackson said the prosecution’s case was built on emotion rather than fact. No witnesses could confirm the attacks, he said. And while the allegations against Weinstein may have helped make the phrase #MeToo ubiquitous, Jackson reminded jurors that social movements are not proof.
“I don’t know how to put it softer, but anger doesn’t make facts,” he said. “Tears don’t make truth.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-19/harvey-weinstein-verdict-in-los-angeles Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape in Los Angeles