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Harvey Weinstein Convicted of Sex Crimes in Los Angeles

Harvey Weinstein, the powerhouse film producer whose downfall over sexual misconduct ignited a global movement, was found guilty of two felony sex crimes on Monday after a trial at which six women testified that he sexually assaulted them.

A Manhattan jury convicted Mr. Weinstein of rape and criminal sexual act but acquitted him on three other counts, including the two most serious charges against him: being a sexual predator.

Mr. Weinstein sat motionless as the verdict was read.

“But I’m innocent,” he said three times to his lawyers, appearing stunned a few minutes later when he was handcuffed and two court officers led him off to jail to await sentencing. He was taken first to Bellevue Medical Center by ambulance after complaining of chest pains and showing signs of high blood pressure, his representatives said.

Sexual misconduct complaints about Mr. Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer of films like “Shakespeare in Love,” had circulated for years, but exposés published by The New York Times and The New Yorker opened the floodgates in late 2017.

Scores of women went public with accusations that Mr. Weinstein had sexually assaulted or harassed them, while thousands more shared similar stories on social media about abuse by powerful men. Mr. Weinstein quickly became a symbol not just of Hollywood’s casting-couch culture, but also of what women had endured in all kinds of workplaces for years.

For many, Mr. Weinstein’s trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan was a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement and a crucial test in the effort to hold influential men accountable for sexual misconduct. He faces a prison sentence of up to 29 years.

Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s victims and women’s rights groups celebrated the conviction, saying it heralded a new era of empowerment for women.

“This verdict made it real for people watching from afar that you will be held accountable for your actions,” said Dawn Dunning, a former actress who testified at the trial. “You can’t take advantage of people just because you have power and money.”

The criminal charges brought against Mr. Weinstein, 67, in Manhattan rested narrowly on the complaints of two women: Miriam Haley, a production assistant who said he had forced oral sex on her in 2006; and Jessica Mann, a former actress who said he had raped her at a hotel in 2013.

Jurors also had to consider the testimony of the actress Annabella Sciorra, who said that Mr. Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s, in deciding whether to convict him of being a sexual predator. As part of prosecutors’ effort to establish a pattern of behavior, three other women testified about what they said were his assaults against them, but he was not charged over the events they described.

Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

But the jury found him not guilty on two counts of predatory sexual assault, suggesting they had doubts about Ms. Sciorra’s accusation.

Jurors left the courthouse without commenting to reporters and were ferried away in a government van. Hours later, the foreman, Bernard Cody, speaking from home, would say only that the deliberations had been exhausting. “It was stressful,” he said. “The whole thing was long, long.”

The case was unusually risky for the district attorney’s office. There was no physical or forensic evidence to support the women’s allegations, turning the trial into a battle over their credibility.

Prosecutors portrayed Mr. Weinstein as a calculated predator who kept his victims close after attacking them in an effort to control them, using his power over their careers to silence them.

But defense lawyers said the women had willingly had sex with Mr. Weinstein to further their careers. Only years later, his lawyers said, after Mr. Weinstein had become a symbol of the #MeToo movement, did the women say their encounters with him were not consensual.

The defense presented evidence that Ms. Haley and Ms. Mann not only had friendly communications with Mr. Weinstein after they said they were attacked, but they also had sex with him.

After deliberating for five days the jury, seven men and five women, determined that Mr. Weinstein had broken the law.

The verdict was a victory for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose legacy is likely to largely be defined by the outcome of the case. He came under heavy public pressure to prosecute Mr. Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model said the producer had groped her breasts at a business meeting.

The earlier decision came back to haunt Mr. Vance in late 2017 when dozens of women came forward to accuse Mr. Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The district attorney became a target of protests, even as Mr. Weinstein went on trial last month.

After the verdict was announced, Mr. Vance said that the women who testified against Mr. Weinstein “changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence” and that society owed them “an immense debt.”

“The women, who came forward courageously and at great risk, made that happen,” he said. Mr. Weinstein, he added, was “a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims.”

Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers said they would appeal the conviction, as well as the judge’s decision to hold their client in jail until his sentencing, which is set for March 11.

“We’re going to fight,” Ms. Rotunno, his lead lawyer, said.

Mr. Weinstein also faces a criminal trial in Los Angeles, where he has been charged with several felonies stemming from accusations by two women who say he sexually assaulted them.

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

From the start, much about the story of Mr. Weinstein’s mistreatment of women had been outsize, including the number of accusers — at least 90 — to the range of the misconduct they said he had engaged in: from lewd propositions and unwanted touching to forced oral sex and rape.

But the authorities in New York faced hurdles in building a case, law enforcement officials said. Many of the crimes Mr. Weinstein was accused of happened outside the state. Others happened too long ago to prosecute. Some of the accusers were unwilling to testify.

The case that Mr. Vance’s office ultimately brought in May 2018 was challenging for prosecutors to prove, in part because two of the three accusers continued to see Mr. Weinstein after what they said were his attacks.

Charges related to the third woman were thrown out because, prosecutors said, the lead detective on the case had withheld evidence that could have been used to discredit the woman’s account.

To bolster their weakened case, prosecutors got permission last summer from the judge overseeing the trial, Justice James M. Burke, to include a rape accusation by Ms. Sciorra, an actress known for her work on “The Sopranos.”

Ms. Sciorra, 59, testified that after giving her a ride home from a dinner party in the early 1990s, Mr. Weinstein had pushed his way into her apartment and violently raped her even as she kicked and punched him.

The encounter had happened too long ago to be the basis for a separate rape charge, but prosecutors used it to support charges of predatory sexual assault, required them to prove that Mr. Weinstein had committed a serious sex crime against at least two women.

The actress Rosie Perez backed up Ms. Sciorra’s testimony, recounting how Ms. Sciorra had told her at the time, “I think I was raped,” and had later identified Mr. Weinstein as her attacker.

Justice Burke also allowed prosecutors to call the three other women — Ms. Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young — who said that Mr. Weinstein had lured them into private meetings, either at hotels or at his apartment, under the pretense of discussing job opportunities, and had then sexually assaulted them. At the time, they were actresses trying to get film parts.

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Mr. Weinstein was not charged based on those accounts, which involved events that were too old or happened in other jurisdictions, but the women were allowed to testify to establish what prosecutors said was a pattern of abuse. A similar legal strategy led to a conviction in the sexual assault trial of the comedian Bill Cosby in Pennsylvania.

The defense called friends of Ms. Mann’s and Ms. Sciorra’s who said that the women had never described their experiences with Mr. Weinstein as rape. His lawyers also stressed during cross-examination that Ms. Sciorra could not recall the date of the assault and could not explain how Mr. Weinstein got past a doorman and to her apartment.

Scores of friendly and sometimes flirtatious emails were shown to the jury showing that Ms. Mann and Ms. Haley maintained relationships with Mr. Weinstein years after the attacks they described.

In one message to a friend, Ms. Mann called Mr. Weinstein “a pseudo father” who had given her “all the validation” she needed.

Ms. Mann, 34, acknowledged in three days of grueling questioning that her romantic relationship with Mr. Weinstein was “complicated and different.” She said that she last had sex with Mr. Weinstein in 2016, after he asked her to console him because his mother had died.

“It does not change the fact that he raped me,” she said.

Ms. Haley, 42, who changed her legal name from Mimi Haleyi, testified that Mr. Weinstein got her a job as a production assistant on the television show “Project Runway.”

She said she rejected his sexual advances during early meetings, but that on July 11, 2006, she accepted an invitation to visit his Lower Manhattan apartment. She said he pushed her onto a bed as she protested, held her down and forced oral sex on her. “I’m being raped,” she recalled thinking.

Ms. Haley acknowledged that she had continued to see Mr. Weinstein, and that she did not resist having sex with him two weeks later at a hotel. She also told friends about her friendship with him, proposed projects to him and accepted tickets to movie premieres and a flight to London.

Ms. Rotunno, Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer, argued that the women had consented to having sex and that prosecutors had invented a world in which women had no free will and were not responsible for their own decisions

Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor, countered that it was Mr. Weinstein who had created a world in which women with less than him, and more to lose, had no choice but to be subjected to his unwanted advances and abuse.

“He was the master of his universe, and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on without consequences,” Ms. Illuzzi said in her closing argument. “The fact they wanted to get into his universe was all he needed to turn around and say — they don’t get to complain when they are stepped on, spit on, demoralized, and yes, raped and abused by the defendant.”

Laura Dimon, Alan Feuer and Emily Palmer contributed reporting.

A correction was made on 

Feb. 24, 2020

An earlier version of this article misquoted Meghan Hast, one of the prosecutors. In her opening statement, Ms. Hast said, “The power imbalance he deviously exploited was not just physical, it was also professional and profoundly psychological.” She did not say, “The power and balance he deviously exploited.”

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