Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is facing more than 25 years in jail after being convicted of rape and sexual assault by a New York jury.
- Weinstein was acquitted on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence
- But he still faces more than 25 years in jail
- He was taken away in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher
Once one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006, and the third-degree rape of Jessica Mann, a one-time aspiring actress, in 2013.
He faces up to 25 years in prison on the sexual assault conviction and four years on the rape count.
But the jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and the first-degree rape of Ms Mann.
Court officers handcuffed Weinstein and led him unsteadily out of the courtroom via a side door without the use of the walker he relied on for much of the trial.
He was later taken from the courthouse in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher in his suit.
Judge James Burke ordered Weinstein to be taken to jail immediately. He is expected to serve time at New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail,
However, a spokesperson for Weinstein said he was actually taken to Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, which has a unit that provides medical care for jail inmates.
A number of news outlets, including Variety, reported that Weinstein had complained of chest pains.
Weinstein’s lawyers said he would appeal the conviction.
Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted Weinstein as saying to him after the verdict: “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”
Another of his defence attorneys, Donna Rotunno, said: “Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man.”
During his trial, Weinstein often appeared feeble, entering the courthouse using a walker. He sometimes leaned on Ms Rotunno for support.
#MeToo activists welcome verdict: ‘He will rot in jail’
Weinstein’s convictions were hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.
Hollywood figures also founded Time’s Up, an organisation dedicated to fighting sexual harassment and abuse across all industries.
Ambra Gutierrez, who helped expose Weinstein, said the verdict was just the start.
“This is an example for many to follow,” she said outside the courtroom.
“The era of impunity for powerful men who rape people is over,” Actress Mira Sorvino said, breaking down in tears on a conference call of Weinstein’s former accusers.
“He will rot in jail as he deserves.”
Weinstein made his mark with critically acclaimed films such as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.
But more than 80 women, including famous actresses, accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades.
He had denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Paul Callan, a former New York prosecutor who is not involved in the case, said Weinstein had strong grounds to argue the verdict should be overturned on appeal because of bias, noting that one of the jurors was the author of a forthcoming book on teenage girls and “predatory” older men.
During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had manipulated women with promises to open doors in Hollywood, coaxing them to hotel rooms or private apartments and then overpowering and violently attacking them.
“The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist,” Manhattan assistant district attorney Meghan Hast said during opening arguments.
Seated at the defence table, Weinstein often appeared impassive, though at times he looked intently at his attorneys when they cross-examined his accusers.
During the many weeks of trial, the prosecution methodically elicited graphic testimony from several accusers, including Ms Haleyi, who said Weinstein invited her to his SoHo home after she had worked on one of his television productions.
After she arrived, Weinstein backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her orally, yanking out her tampon, Ms Haleyi told jurors.
A one-time aspiring actress, Ms Mann said that soon after meeting Weinstein she entered into an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that never included intercourse until, she alleged, he raped her in 2013.
She described Weinstein as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character: He was charming in public but often showed terrifying anger when they were alone, Ms Mann said.
At one point, she started sobbing uncontrollably on the stand, prompting the judge to end testimony early for the day.
Weinstein was charged with assaulting Ms Haleyi and Ms Mann, but prosecutors bolstered their case by calling several other accusers as witnesses.
One of these women, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors Weinstein came into her apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her.
Though the accusation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, prosecutors offered it to show Weinstein was a repeat sexual offender.
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Three other women — costume designer Dawn Dunning, model Tarale Wulff and actress Lauren Young — testified that they were enticed into meeting Weinstein for professional reasons and then groped or raped.
Testimony of “prior bad acts” is generally not allowed in criminal trials, but an exception to the law allowed prosecutors to call these women to show Weinstein had a particular intention or a signature pattern of behaviour.
Legal experts said the women provided powerful evidence that was difficult for the defence to overcome.
Dunning testified that the producer groped her in 2004 and offered her movie roles in exchange for three-way sex with him and his assistant, which she refused.
Ms Young, a model and actress, testified that the producer trapped her in a hotel bathroom in 2013, masturbated in front of her while groping her breasts, and told her: “This is what all the actresses do to make it.”
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