Jurors in Harvey Weinstein‘s sexual assault trial deadlocked on aggravating factors prosecutors sought for the disgraced film producer’s 2013 rape of a woman in her Beverly Hills hotel room.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench declared a mistrial on the two factors, ending a nearly two-month trial that included nine full days of jury deliberation. She tentatively scheduled sentencing for Jan. 9.
Weinstein faces 18 years in prison in addition to the 23 years he’s already serving for two sex crimes convictions from his 2020 New York trial. The aggravating factors would have added an additional six years. Prosecutors argued Tuesday that the woman he was convicted Monday of three crimes for raping was “particularly vulnerable” and his attack required “planning, sophistication and professionalism.”
Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told jurors they first needed to decide whether the victim, a Russian-Italian model and actress identified in trial as Jane Doe 1, suffered a loss or injury or harm. Thompson said the evidence is “the obvious pain that she was in when she testified and when she relived the defendant’s assault on her.”
The first witness to testify when trial began Oct. 24, she described sitting in the shower for hours and crying after the rape and the “guilt and the fear and the shame that she felt,” Thompson said.
“Remember the circumstances she was in: She was from a different country that was far away, she was part of a different culture,” Thompson said. “English was her third language … and in 2013 it wasn’t that strong.”
Thompson told jurors to consider what she was doing when Weinstein showed up at her hotel room in February 2013.
“She had undressed, she had gotten into her robe, she had taken off her makeup, she had let her guard down,” he said, adding that jurors can also consider their own factors for vulnerability based on evidence they saw in trial.
Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman reminded jurors that the standard isn’t “vulnerable,” it’s “particularly vulnerable.”
“Let’s start with something we can all agree on: all rape is bad. All victims of rape have suffered a grievous wrong. But not all rape is of a vulnerable victim, and not all victims are particularly vulnerable,” Werksman said.
And Jane Doe 1, Werksman said, “is not a particularly vulnerable victim.”
“She is a victim that fits within the standard universe” of rape law, not an aggravating factor, he said.
“She was a 34-year-old woman, physically fit, a dynamic woman, who testified that she was especially well known in Italy where she was a model and an actress,” Werksman said.
The woman was visiting Los Angeles for the L.A. Italia Film Festival, where Werksman reminded jurors she was “a regular.”
“She knew the organizer… She was in her own hotel room in a hotel she’d stayed at many times,” Werksman said. “She had many friends and professional colleagues at the hotel or near the hotel.”
He said Jane Doe 1 “was not a woman who was alone and vulnerable and cut off from the world.”
“This would be a different story if the rapist were a hotel employee with a master key, who snuck into the room,” Werksman said. “She let him in. … She had a choice. She didn’t have to open the door. Because she thought she could control the situation.”
Werksman added that Jane Doe 1 in reality “could not control the situation, but no rape victim can.”
“That’s the crime that you have already convicted him of,” Werksman said.
Regarding planning and sophistication, Werksman said Jane Doe 1’s testimony that Weinstein left his jacket in her room is “the opposite of sophistication, and planning and professionalism.”
“There was no planning, no timeline, no communication before or afterwards,” Werksman said.
He told the jury to begin that his lawyer partner Alan Jackson, “Mr. Weinstein and I disagree with and are disappointed with the verdict. But we have tremendous respect for the jury and the jury system.”
Jurors deliberated into Tuesday afternoon before announcing they were deadlocked.
Lench declared a mistrial on the aggravating factors, then excused the jury.
“Thank you from everywhere I can in my being for your incredible civic duty … Your time, your effort your patience and everything that went into your being on this case.”
Weinstein’s tentative sentencing will include a victim impact statement from only Jane Doe 1 after Judge Lench rejected prosecutors’ request to include the women who testified as prior bad acts witnesses, and to include Jane Doe 5, whom Weinstein had been charged with four crimes that prosecutors never presented to the jury and were eventually dismissed by Lench.
“I’m not going to make this an open forum on all of the allegations that were presented in this trial,” the judge said.
Weinstein was convicted of forced oral copulation, forcible rape and penetration with a foreign object involving Jane Doe 1.
Jurors acquitted him of 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).
Read Law&Crime’s past coverage of Harvey Weinstein here.
(Image: Photo by ETIENNE LAURENT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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