Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape in a New York court on Monday and taken off to jail in handcuffs, a victory for the #MeToo movement that inspired women to publicly accuse powerful men of misconduct.
Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.
Officers helped Weinstein unsteadily to his feet before leading him away. His lawyer said Weinstein, who has used a walker throughout the trial, was being taken to a medical facility at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex.
The complex, known for violence and neglect, was a sharp contrast from the posh Four Seasons hotel where Weinstein, the producer of such acclaimed films as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love, had breakfast to start the day.
After the verdict Arthur Aidala, his lawyer, quoted him as saying, “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”
His sentencing hearing was set for March 11. The attorney vowed to appeal.
Weinstein never testified in his defense. He told reporters during the trial that he had wanted to speak but his lawyers said it was unnecessary because the case against him was weak.
Actress Rose McGowan, who had accused Weinstein of rape, wrote on Twitter: “Today is a powerful day & a huge step forward in our collective healing.”
A statement for the #MeToo movement said: “The jury worked with an incredibly narrow and unjust set of laws governing sexual assault, and though he was not convicted on all counts, Harvey Weinstein will have to answer for his crimes.”
Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison on the sexual assault conviction. He was also convicted of third degree rape - sexual intercourse without consent - which carries a prison sentence of up to four years.
The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on the most serious charges, which carried a potential life sentence.
A long legal battle in the appeals courts is likely to ensue. At the start of the trial, defense lawyers accused the judge of bias, the prosecutors of withholding evidence, and the media of turning the trial into a circus.
Weinstein still faces sexual assault charges in California, which were announced just hours after his New York trial began on Jan. 6. Dozens of women have also filed civil lawsuits against him.
More than 80 women, including famous actresses, had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. He had denied the accusations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said at a news conference: “It’s a new day because Weinstein has finally been held accountable.” He praised the jurors. “Your verdict turned a page in our criminal justice system.
“To the survivors: I owe and we owe an immense debt of courage to you,” Vance said.