Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and a criminal sexual act, more than two years after allegations against the former Hollywood power broker sparked the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein, 67, faces a five- to 25-year sentence on the criminal sexual act charge and as long as four years on the rape count. He was acquitted of charges that could have resulted in a life sentence.
The disgraced movie mogul heard the verdict without expressing any emotion in an otherwise silent courtroom. He was led away in handcuffs and will be sentenced on March 11.
The trial marked an extraordinary moment in a national reckoning over the abuse and assault of women in the workplace. Much has changed since the New York Times and the New Yorker reported in late 2017 that dozens of women had accused Weinstein of preying on them, unleashing similar claims against other powerful men. The crisis consultancy Temin & Co. puts the current number of Weinstein accusers at 111.
The verdict is “a strong message sent to survivors about the prospects of justice,” said Deborah Tuerkheimer, who prosecuted sex crimes and domestic violence cases in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which handled the Weinstein case.
It could encourage more victims of sexual assault to pursue that justice in the courtroom. Rape is notoriously underreported, partly because victims fear they won’t be believed and will be retraumatized.
But Weinstein’s conviction “should not be viewed as a statement for or against a movement,” said Laura Brevetti, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who has defended clients accused of sex crimes. Instead, she said, it is “a clear vindication of the goal that so many have tried to achieve for decades — that a person who has been sexually abused by anyone, especially someone in a position of power or authority, should not remain silent about it, that a victim has the right and channel to report it, and that our judicial system can ultimately bring justice to a victim.”
While he was found guilty of rape in the third degree, Weinstein was acquitted of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, and a count of rape in the first degree, a remarkable fall for a man once celebrated and feared in the film industry.
Weinstein had been on trial in Manhattan since Jan. 6, charged with forcing oral sex on “Project Runway” assistant Miriam Haley in his SoHo loft in 2006 and raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in a midtown Manhattan hotel in 2013.
Since the allegations against Weinstein were first widely reported, some 1,400 powerful people have been publicly accused of harassment, abuse or assault, according to Temin, the crisis consultants. Many suffered professional consequences of one kind or another. Workplaces have bolstered their sexual harassment policies. Some of the biggest companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Wells Fargo & Co., have dropped forced-arbitration clauses for harassment complaints from employment contracts. More than a dozen states have amended or updated workplace harassment laws.