Jury in Weinstein case to keep deliberating after deadlock on most serious charges

Reuters New York Feb 24, 2020, 06.03 PM(IST)

The Weinstein Company suffered a major blow after more than 70 women accused founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct including rape. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Conviction on the predatory assault charges, which carry a potential life sentence, would indicate that Weinstein is a repeat sexual offender.

Jurors in the sexual assault trial of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein is expected to begin their fifth day of deliberations on Monday, after suggesting last week they were deadlocked on the most serious charges in the case.

The seven men and five women on the jury began deliberating in criminal court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

On Friday, they asked the judge whether they could be hung on two counts of predatory sexual assault and unanimous on the others, which include first-degree rape.

Conviction on the predatory assault charges, which carry a potential life sentence, would indicate that Weinstein is a repeat sexual offender. Two of the other three charges carry prison terms of up to 25 years; a third carries a sentence of up to 4 years.

Four legal experts said the jury`s questions suggested they were nearing a guilty verdict on at least one of the five counts against the producer of movies including "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love."

Weinstein has denied the charges. A source within Weinstein`s defence team said speculation about the verdict would be "premature and a mistake."

Paul Callan, a former prosecutor, said an acquittal is still possible since deliberations resume and "anything can happen after a weekend of reflection."

During the weeks-long trial, Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant, testified that Weinstein invited her to his Manhattan home in 2006 and then backed her into a bedroom and forcibly performed oral sex on her.

Jessica Mann said that soon after meeting Weinstein she began an "extremely degrading" relationship with him that never included intercourse until, she alleged, he raped her in March 2013.

Another accuser, Annabella Sciorra, best known for her role in HBO`s "The Sopranos," testified that Weinstein came to her New York apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994, raped her and then forced oral sex on her.

That accusation is too old to be charged as a separate crime but was introduced by prosecutors as an aggravating factor for the predatory sexual assault charges.

Jurors appeared to focus on Sciorra`s allegations on Thursday and Friday, asking to review extensive evidence related to her.
Jurors can convict Weinstein of predatory sexual assault if they find that he committed the alleged assault against Sciorra and at least one of the alleged crimes against Haleyi or Mann.

Defence lawyer Michael Bachner, who is not involved in the case, said it seemed the jury had decided to convict Weinstein on the counts related to the individual complainants.

"Otherwise there really would be no reason for them to be considering the testimony of Ms Sciorra," Bachner said on Friday.

Another legal expert, defence attorney Julie Rendelman agreed that a conviction on one of the lesser charges was likely and said the jurors might be confused by the complexity of the predatory sexual assault charges.

Another, defence attorney Gerald Lefcourt, described the verdict sheet as unusually complicated.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has denied the accusations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

The allegations fueled the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.