What has happened?
In all, at least 80 women had accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman. Accusations emerged in the media in October 2017 and Weinstein was charged in May 2018.
The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that prompted women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.
On 24 February 2020, Weinstein was convicted in New York of a first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as “engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent”.
The sexual assault was against his former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006, and the third-degree rape was against Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. Weinstein was acquitted on three charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence and a count of first-degree rape of Jessica Mann.
What happens now?
On 11 March 2020 Weinstein will be sentenced and is facing at least 5 years in prison and up to 25 years over the guilty verdicts. Weinstein’s lawyers have confirmed that they will be appealing the conviction.
The following could be taken into account by the judge:
- No remorse or early guilty plea
- May be some consideration of his physical health issues
Will he succeed with any appeal?
If as anticipated, Weinstein appeals, it could be in relation to what might be considered the controversial move by the prosecution to call evidence from “complainants” who were not complainants in the criminal proceedings: give a “dog a bad name”…?
“The Silence Breakers” (the term used to refer to Weinstein’s accusers as a group) issued a statement written on behalf of 23 of Weinstein’s accusers: “It is disappointing that the outcome does not deliver the true, full justice… [but] Harvey Weinstein will not forever be known as a convicted serial predator”. The case has also exposed “the difficulties women face coming forward to tell the truth about powerful abusers”.
The story is far from over
The following should be noted:
- Civil complaints are ongoing
- In December 2019 lawyers said they reached a tentative $25m/£19m deal with some accusers
- He is still to face charges in Los Angeles
- Further to an investigation into 8 allegations
Charges filed in regards to two incidents in February 2013 – an anonymized female Italian actor on 18 February and a model named Lauren Young (who was a witness in the New York trial) on 19 February. The allegations Include rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint, and all carrying a potential 28-year prison sentence.
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