Harvey Weinstein was taken into custody today after being found guilty of committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree rape in his Manhattan trial after nearly 30 hours of jury deliberations over more than four days. He was found not guilty of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge, and not guilty of rape in the first degree. When the verdict was read, Weinstein was impassive. He will be sentenced on March 11 and faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 29. After the proceedings ended this afternoon, the fallen producer was cuffed and led out of the courtroom.
The count of criminal sexual act in the first degree stemmed from former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi’s allegation that Weinstein had forced oral sex on her in his Soho apartment in 2006. Weinstein faced one count of rape in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree for onetime actress Jessica Mann’s allegation that he had raped her at a Midtown East hotel in 2013. He also faced two counts of predatory sexual assault (one count related to Haleyi’s allegation, the other to Mann’s accusation). Annabella Sciorra’s allegation that Weinstein had raped her around late 1993 was part of the predatory sexual-assault counts.
Weinstein did not appear worried when he walked into the courtroom shortly before 9:30 a.m., saying good morning to reporters, with an almost casual demeanor.
Prior to Weinstein being taken into custody, his lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, unsuccessfully asked for him to be placed under house arrest until sentencing, citing his health. “He has significant medical issues. I have letters from all his doctors, Judge. He’s under the care of five doctors currently. He’s dealing with the remnants of his back operation which was not successful,” Rotunno claimed. “He’s in need of the walker. He takes a list of different medicines. Judge, he’s currently receiving shots in his eyes so he does not go blind.”
“Thank you. I don’t doubt the severity of his medical conditions. How is Wednesday March 11th for sentence?” Justice James Burke said matter-of-factly, right before he ordered that Weinstein be taken into custody.
“It was very stressful and emotional,” said one juror, reached by phone several hours after the verdict.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance praised the women who testified against Weinstein for charged crimes — Haleyi, Mann, and Sciorra — and the three accusers who testified to uncharged bad acts, as well as prosecutors Meghan Hast and Joan Illuzzi.
“These are the eight women who changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence. These are eight women who pulled our justice system into the 21st century by declaring that rape is rape, and sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter what,” Vance said in a statement. “Rape is rape, whether it’s committed by a stranger in a dark alley or by an intimate partner in a relationship. It’s rape, whether it’s committed by an indigent person or a man of immense power, prestige, and privilege. Rape is rape whether the survivor reports it within the next hour, within a year, or never at all. It’s rape, despite the complicated dynamics of power and consent after an assault. It’s rape even if there is no physical evidence. Even if it happened a long time ago.”
“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America. This is a new day,” Vance also said. “It’s a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously, and at great risk, made that happen.” He added, “Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator, who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate, and silence his victims.”
In a statement this afternoon, Sciorra said, “My testimony was painful but necessary. I spoke for myself and with the strength of the eighty plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart. While we hope for continued righteous outcomes that bring absolute justice, we can never regret breaking the silence. For in speaking truth to power we pave the way for a more just culture, free of the scourge of violence against women.”
Rotunno said after the verdict, “It’s absolutely horrible for me to watch my client taken into custody.” Speaking outside the Centre Street courthouse, she said, “Harvey is very strong. He took it like a man. He knows this is not over … Obviously, he is disappointed, but he is strong. He’s mentally tough, and we’re going to fight.”
“He just kept repeating, ‘But I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?’” said another Weinstein lawyer, Arthur Aidala, outside of the courthouse. “He’ll have a very powerful appeal. We can go in and get him bail pending appeal, and hopefully he’ll be home within the week.”
A courthouse source spotted Weinstein being taken away from the courthouse in an ambulance around 4:30 p.m., and said he was sitting upright in the vehicle. A rep for Weinstein said that the ambulance was taking him to an infirmary on Rikers Island. Weinstein’s lawyers wanted him placed in an infirmary or protective custody, due to his medical problems. As of 7:35 p.m., however, a rep confirmed that Weinstein is now at Bellevue Hospital. Rotunno said it was due to high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and chest pain.
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who said Weinstein groped her breasts in 2015 and recorded him admitting to it in a subsequent police sting, only to see Vance decline to charge him, said this verdict is “a good start.” “I am happy,” she said outside the courthouse. “I’m happy because, as you know, I tried back in 2015, and so right now, at least, it’s the right outcome of whatever I was wishing for, and I’m getting back my life.”
The closely watched trial was star-studded from the start. During jury selection, Judge James Burke read off a list of people who could be called as witnesses or mentioned at trial, including Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron, and Rosie Perez. Burke asked prospective jurors if they knew anyone on the list and, if so, whether they could remain impartial. Following testimony from Sciorra, Perez took the stand and backed up the rape allegation. “She told me that it was, in fact, Harvey Weinstein that raped her,” the Do The Right Thing actress said of a phone call she had with Sciorra around 1994.
Supermodel Gigi Hadid appeared in the courtroom as a potential juror but was dismissed several days later. Prior to her dismissal, Hadid said in court that she had met both Weinstein and Theron but could remain impartial.
Weinstein’s trial, which many saw as a litmus test for how the Me Too movement would play out in the courts, began with jury selection on January 7. Prosecutors called 28 witnesses, while Weinstein’s defense called seven. Weinstein himself did not testify.