In the second sex crimes trial, Harvey Weinstein, a former Hollywood producer, has been found guilty of sex offences. Five years after a multitude of women accused the Hollywood mogul of sexual harassment, sparking the #MeToo movement, a jury in Los Angeles has convicted Weinstein of rape and sexual assault.
Weinstein, aged 70, is currently serving a 23-year sentence for previous crimes in New York in 2020 and now faces more jail time. This verdict signifies Weinstein's second conviction for sexual assault.
Eight women testified that Weinstein sexually harassed them during the Los Angeles trial. Many of them believed they were meeting him in hotels around the globe to discuss career opportunities. However, Weinstein was only charged with crimes related to the alleged offences of the California case.
Weinstein was found guilty of raping a woman and two counts of sexual assault against her. To conceal her identity, the accuser was dubbed “Jane Doe 1”. The victim gave the testimony that during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013, Weinstein had suddenly come to her hotel room, compelled her to engage in oral sex and then brutally raped her.
In regards to claims made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary producer and the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and another woman, the jury could not reach a decision.
Newsom gave some of the trial's most moving testimony. Newsom said in court that Weinstein attacked and raped her in 2005 during what she believed to be a business meeting in a hotel. At the time, she was a young actor and producer trying to break into the industry.
Throughout the trial, Weinstein opted not to testify and pled “not guilty” to all accusations. His attorneys mounted a ferocious defence, calling Newsom a "bimbo" and questioning the veracity of Weinstein’s accusers, as reported by The Guardian. The Guardian report also states that Weinstein's defence claimed two of the accusers to have made up their testimonies and that the others had had consensual, transactional sex and were now trying to pass it off as assault.
Alan Jackson, the defendant's defence attorney, asked the jury not to be misled by the #MeToo movement during his closing statements. He argued that the testimony of eight different women did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Weinstein had committed any wrongdoing. Jackson characterised Newsom's decision to openly criticise Weinstein in 2017 - when other women were also starting to do so - as a decision driven by public perception.
Weinstein had initially been charged with 11 counts of rape and assault by a total of five accusers. However, the prosecutors dropped four of the counts halfway through the trial after announcing that the fifth victim would not be testifying.
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