Harvey Weinstein Trial: Verdict, Sentencing, and What Comes Next
By Stacy Lambe
Hollywood was rocked when the New York Times and New Yorker published explosive investigative reports detailing decades of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse by Harvey Weinstein. Since October 2017, more than 80 women -- including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Gwyneth Paltrow -- have come forward with accusations against someone long thought to be the industry’s most untouchable power player. Weinstein, who denies all accusations of unlawful, nonconsensual sex, has since been charged by New York prosecutors. In January, the former Hollywood titan's trial officially began. And after several weeks of testimony, the jury found Weinstein guilty of a criminal sex act in the first degree and on rape in the third degree and he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Despite a lengthy denial and threats of lawsuits issued by Weinstein and his legal team, the fallout was swift: his wife, Georgina Chapman, filed for divorce; his production company bearing his name eventually declared bankruptcy and ended all nondisclosure agreements as he retreated from the spotlight and sought treatment. “No one should be afraid to speak out or coerced to stay quiet,” the Weinstein Company announced in a statement. ET has a full account of the timeline leading up to his arrest, the various allegations that women -- also including Cara Delevingne, Paz de la Huerta and Uma Thurman -- have made in the press and the celebrities who have spoken out against him.
Charges in New York City:
Weinstein was accused of raping an unidentified woman at a Midtown hotel in Manhattan in March 2013 as well as forcing oral sex on a production assistant named Mimi Haleyi at his New York City apartment in 2006. He faced two counts of rape, one count of criminal sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault. During the trial, he was free on bail via a $2 million insurance company bond.
Timeline of Events in New York City:
The trial began on Jan. 6, with days of motions before a contentious jury selection. Each side made their case with opening arguments on Jan. 22. Initially expected to conclude on or by Mar. 6, the trial ended early on Friday, Feb. 14. The jury deliberated for a total of five days before reaching a verdict. He was then sentenced on Mar. 11.
By the end of the second week of trial, a full jury of seven men and five women as well as three alternates -- two women, one man -- were selected. One of the female jurors is reportedly writing a novel about “predatory older men.” Despite much back and forth between Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead attorney, and lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi over juror No. 11’s “novel writing,” Judge Burke ruled that she “would remain on the seated jury,” CNN reports. The final selection comes from an initial pool of 120 potential jurors, which included Gigi Hadid, who claimed she could be impartial despite having previously met Weinstein. (More on her below.) Co-founder of Milk Studios, Mazdack Rassi, who is married to Marie Claire editor and fashion correspondent Zanna Roberts, was also reportedly summoned before being eliminated. The journalist and TV personality notably served as a mentor for three seasons of Project Runway All-Stars, which was produced by The Weinstein Company before it went bankrupt and included Chapman as judge during Roberts’ time on the reality series.
Highlights From the Trial:
Week One: After the defense failed to get lawyer Gloria Allred, whose clients include Haleyi and Sciorra, banned from sitting in the courtroom or appearing on the witness list, she told reporters outside the courtroom that “my sense is they fear me.” Later, Judge Burke scolded Weinstein for trying to get him to recuse himself after he told the defendant to stop using his cellphone during proceedings. “Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order?” he was reported saying.
Week Two: In an unexpected twist, Gigi Hadid was called as a potential juror when she was one of around 120 New Yorkers who answered their summons during the selection process. According to the Associated Press, the 24-year-old supermodel disclosed to the judge that despite having met Weinstein before, she was still able to "keep an open mind on the facts" and remain impartial. But her time as a potential juror was short-lived. She was officially cut from the potential list two days later despite bringing some much-needed style to the courtroom.
Week Three: The shortened week started with opening statements from both sides of the case with the prosecutor claiming Weinstein “is not a harmless old man” while his defense took aim at his accusers’ credibility. On Thursday, Annabella Sciorra took the stand to testify about the night that the powerful producer allegedly raped her (read her full account here), while Rosie Perez was called on Friday to recount her conversations with the Sopranos actress. “She said, ‘I think something bad happened… I think I was raped,'” Perez testified.
Week Four:Mimi Haleyi, whose accusations are part of the charges lobbied against Weinstein, testified on Monday that Weinstein assaulted her in 2006. However, his defense lawyers claimed that emails between the two showed an amicable relationship. Her testimony was followed by Dawn Dunning, a witness who took the stand two days later to attest to Weinstein’s past of inappropriate behavior. She asserted that he touched the former actress without her consent and even offered her parts in exchange for a threesome with him and his assistant. Dunning was immediately followed by Tarale Wulff, who described an incident when Weinstein appeared to be masturbating in front of her. On Friday, Jessica Mann took the stand. During an emotional testimony, she described how he allegedly raped her in a Manhattan hotel room. She also claimed that Weinstein “does not have testicles” and that after seeing him fully naked, she “thought he was deformed and intersex.”
Week Five: After two weeks of intense and graphic testimonies from six women, the prosecution rested its case. Mann, whose comments about Weinstein’s body made headlines the week prior, had a panic attack on the witness stand while being cross-examined by the defense on Monday. Before losing her composure, she read a 2014 letter to her boyfriend, in which she wrote how she “tried to make [Weinstein] a pseudo father.” On Tuesday, before resting their case, prosecutors showed the jury several photos of Weinstein, including one of him fully naked. Later in the week, the defense called its first witness, Paul Feldsher, a former Miramax consultant. Page Six reports that he “bombed” on the stand, after he said that the Hollywood mogul had a “voracious appetite” for sex. But Feldsher also called Sciorra a “liar.”
Week Six: On Monday, actresses Talita Maia and Claudia Salinas were called to the stand by the defense, with the former describing her relationship with Weinstein as “amicable.” One day later, the defense rested its case without having the mogul taking the stand. Despite reportedly saying he “wanted to” testify, Weinstein was not called in his own defense. According to the Associated Press, "defense lawyer Arthur Aidala added that Weinstein ‘was ready, willing, able and actually quite anxious to testify and clear his name’ but didn’t do so because his lawyers felt prosecutors ‘failed miserably’ to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt." On Thursday, Weinstein's lawyer, Rotunno, told jurors during her closing argument that the prosecutors created an "alternative universe" where Weinstein is a "monster," per the AP. She added that her client is an innocent man and that jurors should not be swayed by a "sinister tale." The following day, lead prosecutor Illuzzi told jurors in her closing argument that Weinstein was a serial rapist who used his power in Hollywood to prey on women, per Variety. “When Harvey Weinstein met the witnesses, he looked quite different than he does today…They were scared. They felt isolated and they were alone," she said. "If you have to trick someone, it's not consent."
Conviction and Sentencing:
In February, Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree and of criminal sexual assault in the first degree with a potential of five to 29 years in prison. In the days leading up to the judge's decision, Weinstein's team petitioned for the minimum time behind bars due to his ongoing health issues (see more on that below.) However, on Mar. 11, Weinstein was formally sentenced to 23 years in prison, six years shy of the maximum time he faced.
After the sentencing on Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance applauded Weinstein's accusers for speaking out. "We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years. Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world," Vance said in a statement to ET.
Los Angeles Charges and Trial:
In January, the first day of the New York trial, Los Angeles prosecutors announced new sexual assault charges -- “raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents back in 2013” -- against Weinstein. “We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. If convicted, he faces up to 28 years in prison. While his legal team has yet to respond to the new charges, Weinstein has denied any wrongdoing in all accusations.
A date for the Los Angeles trial has not been set. “Though the authorities in Los Angeles could issue a warrant for Mr. Weinstein’s arrest,” the Times reports, “it was highly unlikely they would disrupt the trial in New York by seeking his removal to California, or that the judge in New York would allow it.”
Weinstein’s Current Health:
Ever since December, 67-year-old Weinstein has been using a walker as he enters and leaves the courtroom. His appearance, which CNN describes as “an apparent sign of the disgraced movie producer’s deteriorating health,” has come under scrutiny. Rolling Stone writes, “The moment Weinstein showed up at court with the apparatus, the question was sparked: Does Weinstein really need this thing, or is this Defense Lawyer 101 tactics to cull sympathy for the now-notorious producer?”
According to Weinstein’s team, however, “he’s not faking it.” The reason for his appearance -- and the use of a walker -- is the result of him being “in a serious car accident in August, which resulted in a concussion” and “necessitated the need for back surgery,” Rotunno told ET. “He has been using a walker to assist him as the back pain has increased. Prior to his entering the court, he wanted to leave the walker in the car, so it did not appear that he was looking for sympathy, as he is not. The press surrounding his physical condition is mean spirited and false."
However, after being found guilty of assault, Weinstein was redirected to Bellevue Hospital before going to Riker's Island, where he was to be reprimanded while awaiting sentencing. During his hospital stay, the 67-year-old underwent heart surgery.
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Since publishing their investigations, Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor and New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow have written books about the ins and outs of bringing down Weinstein and exposing systematic abuse in Hollywood and elsewhere. She Said from Penguin Random House details Kantor and Twohey’s journey to break “the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement” while Farrow’s Catch and Kill from Little Brown has been described as a real-life spy novel detailing the violence and espionage by those in power that pushed back against the investigation. Additionally, McGowan published a memoir, Brave from HarpersCollins, which details her childhood living with the controversial group, Children of God, and her alleged sexual assault by Weinstein.
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Rose McGowan Details Alleged Attack by Harvey Weinstein in New Book
“A large part of the reporting in this book [Catch and Kill] is about how Harvey Weinstein narrowly evaded previous attempts to charge him because he was able to hire armies of private investigators to dig up dirt on his accusers, and smear them, and influence the DA’s office,” Farrow told Trevor Noah during an appearance on The Daily Show. “I hope that Harvey Weinstein receives a fair trial -- that means a prosecution being tough, the process being organized, and respected, and not manipulated in a way that powerful people are so often able to manipulate those processes.”
Farrow has since launched a podcast version of his novel that shines a light on those who helped him with his investigation. (Stream now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher.) Twohey and Kantor, on the other hand, have given in-depth interviews about their investigation, writing their book and breaking down the Weinstein case to the Times podcast, The Daily, and Paltrow’s Goop podcast.
The first major film to come out is Untouchable, a documentary directed by Ursula Macfarlane. Her film details the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein, while trying to contextualize the scandal by revisiting the early years of Weinstein and his brother, Bob. The film features interviews with former colleagues and accusers, including Arquette and de la Huerta. (Stream now on Hulu.)