Harvey Weinstein may not have been considered Hollywood royalty, but he was certainly an influential force off-camera. As a movie producer, he had the power to make or break careers – and that is what enabled him to take advantage of women who were determined to build or advance their careers in front of the camera or at least unwilling to jeopardize those ambitions. On Feb. 24, the jury in Weinstein’s Manhattan trial returned a verdict of guilty on two counts: a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
Though he could, potentially, face more than 25 years behind bars for those convictions, the Tinsel Town mogul was acquitted on three additional counts: two counts of predatory sexual assault and one of first-degree rape. The last was the most serious charge, which could have led to a life sentence.
#MeToo Public Enemy Number One
This was the highest-profile criminal case spawned by the #MeToo movement, and perhaps the allegations against Weinstein even created that movement. Its long-awaited conclusion will not likely be seen as a victory for many, though Weinstein has yet to be sentenced. “Even though he’s facing jail time, this is a significant victory for him,” said Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, “and a monumental setback for the government.”
More than 100 women have accused the Hollywood executive of a broad range of sexual misconduct. Thus, Weinstein came to be viewed as the epitome of the powerful male, using his status to intimidate and take physical advantage of the women he met or with whom he worked.
According to a CNN report, the sentencing guidelines for count five – third-degree rape – call for a minimum of five years in prison, up to 25 years. Weinstein, then, will almost certainly not escape incarceration.
It appears the jury of seven men and five women had some difficulty reaching the final verdicts, deliberating for almost 27 hours. There had been suggestions of juror misconduct, and a motion for a mistrial, filed by Weinstein’s defense team, had been dismissed. Within a short time after the verdict, as Weinstein was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, his publicist Juda Engelmayer told CNN that an appeal was already being filed by the mogul’s attorney. Weinstein also faces more charges in California.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.