After years of media coverage and a trial that ran for weeks in court, Harvey Weinstein has finally been found guilty of rape and sexual assault.
News of the verdict was declared at around 3am this morning (Aust. Western Standard Time) and arrives as a watershed moment in human rights history.
A jury of seven men and five women took five days to reach their verdict at the New York Supreme Court and found Weinstein guilty of a criminal sex act in the first degree – for forcing oral sex on former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006, and of rape in the third degree – for the rape of a woman, who wishes to remain unidentified, in a New York hotel in 2013.
Weinstein was handcuffed after the guilty verdict and taken into custody. He will remain in custody until official sentencing on March 11.
The first charge carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of up to 25 years; the second charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison and will see Weinstein registered as a sex offender. The official sentencing will take place on March 11, 2020.
In sum, Harvey Weinstein may live out a sentence of between five and 29 years. Soon, he will be swapping his business suit and abusive lifestyle for orange overalls in a correctional facility.
But the jury acquitted Weinstein of the most serious charges of predatory sexual assault involving two women, Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann.
Weinstein is also to face court for sexual assault charges filed in Los Angeles. In the meantime his lawyers claim he will appeal the charges so far laid in New York.
In an open letter, several of Weinstein’s victims and silence breakers – including Ashley Judd, Rosanna Arquette and Zoe Brock – expressed that while it is disappointing today’s outcome has not delivered full justice, it is appreciated that the fallen film mogul will forever be known as a convicted serial predator.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. highlighted the names of eight women who spoke out against Weinstein during the trial.
“Dawn Dunning, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, Lauren Young. Meghan Hast, Joan Illuzzi. These are the eight women who changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence,” Vance said, adding: “Rape is rape … whether it’s committed by an indigent person or a man of immense power, prestige, and privilege.”
For many, this trial has been a crucial test in the effort to hold powerful men accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace – and that is any workplace.
If you or anyone you know is affected by sexual abuse or assault, phone 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. For an interpreter, phone 13 14 50. In an emergency, call 000.