A Los Angeles County jury found disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein guilty Monday of three sex crimes related to his rape of a Russian-Italian model, which could add at least 18 more years to the 23 years he’s already serving for his New York convictions.
The mixed verdict fell far short of a wholesale victory for prosecutors: Jurors acquitted him of another crime and deadlocked on the remaining three.
The acquittal was for sexual battery by restraint related to Jane Doe 3, who is Juls Bindi, a Hollywood masseuse who said Weinstein touched her breast while masturbating in front of her after a massage in 2010. Bindi said she confided “in a friend, Mel,” referring to actor Mel Gibson, but prosecutors never called him as a witness.
Jurors hung on Weinstein’s three other charges, as well as a misdemeanor charge prosecutors included as a lesser alternative to Bindi’s sexual battery charge. They split 10-2 in favor of guilty on sexual battery by restraint involving Jane Doe 2, who said Weinstein groped her breast while masturbating in front of her at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, also in February 2013. They also split 8-4 in favor of guilty for forced oral copulation and forcible rape of Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
Jane Doe 1 said in a statement released through her lawyer that Weinstein “forever destroyed a part of me that night in 2013 and I will never get that back.”
“The criminal trial was brutal and Weinstein’s lawyers put me through hell on the witness stand, but I knew I had to see this through to the end, and I did,” she said. “I am thankful to the LA County prosecutors, including Paul Thompson, for believing in me and fighting so hard for all the victims, including me, in the trial. I hope Weinstein never sees the outside of a prison cell during his lifetime.”
Thompson and his co-counsel, Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez, declined comment after the verdict was read, citing the ongoing proceedings. Jurors are to return Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. for argument from prosecutors and Weinstein’s lawyers “to consider aggravating factors that will help determine the outcome of Weinstein’s sentencing hearing,” according to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The enhancements could bring his maximum possible sentence to 24 years.
“I want to thank the survivors in this case, who exhibited extraordinary bravery in a case that put them in the national spotlight,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a press release. “Reporting sexual assault is never easy. Subjecting oneself to at times brutal cross-examination can be retraumatizing and extraordinarily painful. I stand in awe of their fearlessness. They deserve better than what the system has given them.”
Weinstein’s lawyers, Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson, declined comment. They had argued Jane Doe 1 was fabricating the entire encounter with Weinstein.
Announced about 3:40 p.m. in Los Angeles, the verdict follows about 40 hours of deliberation over 9 1/2 days. Judge Lisa B. Lench declared a mistrial for the remaining counts after jurors said further deliberations wouldn’t help.
Already serving a 23-year sentence for two sex crimes convictions out of New York, Weinstein crossed his hands and rested his face on them as Judge Lench’s clerk read the guilty counts for Jane Doe 1’s charges. But his mood appeared to lighten when the clerk announced jurors had found enhancements involving multiple victims not to be true, which was a sure sign he wasn’t going to be convicted on the other counts.
The verdict followed deliberations that included jury notes handled by Judge Lench privately with the attorneys over the phone, instead of in open court as generally happens in trials.
Jurors began deliberating on Friday, Dec. 2, getting a couple hours in before returning for their first full day on Dec. 5. Journalists learned days later that jurors asked their first question on Dec. 6.
Lench would not allow the public to know what the question said, issuing an order that said she believes doing so would interfere with ongoing deliberations. She also declined to release the contents of another question the jury sent on Dec. 9.
The trial opened on Oct. 24. Prosecutors called 44 witnesses, including eight women testified about alleged sexual assaults by Weinstein between 1991 and 2013. Four were charged victims and four were witnesses under California Evidence Code section 1108, which allows testimony about a defendant’s “past sexual misconduct, alleged and otherwise, when they are currently on trial for a sex crime.”
Weinstein was charged with seven crimes:
– forced oral copulation, forcible rape and penetration with a foreign object involving Jane Doe 1, who testified that Weinstein raped her at Mr. C’s hotel in Beverly Hills when she was in Los Angeles for the L.A. Italia Film Festival in February 2013.
– sexual battery by restraint involving Jane Doe 2, who testified Weinstein groped her breast while masturbating in front of her at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, also in February 2013. The jury hung on that count, 10-2 in favor of guilty.
– sexual battery by restraint involving Jane Doe 3, the Hollywood masseuse who spoke with with ABC News’ 20/20 using her full name Juls Bindi about Weinstein groping her while masturbating in 2010. Jurors acquitted Weinstein of that charge but hung on the lesser-included misdemeanor.
– forced oral copulation and forcible rape in 2005 involving Jane Doe 4, who is Siebel Newsom. Jurors hung 8-4 in favor of guilty on both counts.
The four witnesses who testified as to uncharged allegations against Weinstein began with a woman who has not spoken publicly outside trial. She is identified as Ashley M, who testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2003 when she was in Puerto Rico after securing a role as a dancer and body double in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
Also testifying was Kelly Sipherd, who said Weinstein raped her in a Toronto hotel room in 1991 after inviting her to watch a movie during a conversation over wine about the entertainment industry. Sipherd, whose lawyer gave reporters permission to identify her by her full name, said Weinstein assaulted her again in 2008 at the same hotel after she went to his room planning to confront him about the 1991 assault.
One of Weinstein’s original public accusers, Ambra Gutierrez, was another prior bad acts witness, testifying about Weinstein’s groping her breast in New York City in 2015 and an ensuing police sting that included recordings of Weinstein trying to coax Gutierrez into his hotel room. The final prior bad acts witness was Natassia Malthe, who testified that Weinstein raped her in London in 2008 after she told the powerful Hollywood producer, “I don’t do the casting couch thing.”
Read all Law&Crime coverage of Harvey Weinstein here.
(Image: Photo by Etienne Laurent-Pool/Getty Images)
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