Five years after #MeToo, Harvey Weinstein back in court. Convicted of rape and sexual assault on an Italian actress by a Los Angeles jury in December 2022, the ousted producer should, unless the judge grants him a new trial, be fixed on his sentence this Thursday. But he will have the possibility of appealing in California no matter what, just like in New York, where a high court accepted his appeal after his sentence to twenty-three years in prison by a Manhattan court in 2020.
In Los Angeles, Weinstein faces up to 18 years in prison
In Los Angeles, the jury had great difficulty in agreeing on a verdict. After two weeks of deliberations, last December, the 12 jurors found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and two sexual assaults on a single woman, “Jane Doe 1”, an Italian actress of Russian origin. Weinstein, on the other hand, was acquitted of assaulting a masseuse, and the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision in the case of two other accusers, including the first lady of California, Jennifer Siebel-Newsom.
The jury having not retained an aggravating circumstance, Harvey Weinstein faces a maximum of eighteen years in prison. But before rendering her decision, Judge Lisa Lench must hear the arguments of the producer’s lawyers, who are calling for a new trial. The magistrate had forbidden them, during the preliminary phase, to present to the jury the messages exchanged on Facebook by the actress with an Italian producer with whom she allegedly had a sexual relationship. According to the lawyers, the accuser lied on the stand, speaking of a purely platonic relationship, and they want to be able to attack her credibility during a new trial.
If the judge refuses, she will announce the sentence of Harvey Weinstein in stride. It will also have to decide whether the ex-producer should serve it in parallel with his New York conviction, or, more likely, consecutively, with periods of imprisonment which would add up. His lawyers can then appeal to a California court.
A call in progress in New York
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to twenty-three years in prison in Manhattan in March 2020 for two charges of rape and sexual assault on two women. He began serving his sentence before being transferred for trial in California.
But after a first failure on appeal, his lawyers won their case before the equivalent of the Supreme Court of New York State, which agreed to look into his trial, where accusers for prescribed facts had been allowed to testify. According to Weinstein’s defense, Judge James Burke had “succumbed to pressure” from the #MeToo movement, and a new trial is warranted. Prosecutors have until March 1 to present their case.
Civil and UK lawsuits
Accused by more than 70 women of sexual assault or harassment, Harvey Weinstein has reached a civil agreement to end the lawsuits of about 40 of them against the payment of 18 million dollars – after the liquidation of his company of production, The Weinstein Company. However, he is still being sued in civil proceedings by the Italian actress, who wants to obtain financial compensation after the recognition of his criminal guilt.
Harvey Weinstein’s troubles are not limited to the United States: the ex-producer was also charged in the United Kingdom last June for sexual assault. At 70, he risks spending the rest of his life behind bars.