February 18, 2020

Jury expected to begin deliberations in Harvey Weinstein trial

Harvey Weinstein, Jury

A Manhattan jury will begin deliberating Tuesday in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial, which had as many twists and turns as a Hollywood script.

The panel of seven men and five women heard from six Weinstein accusers and 22 other prosecution witnesses during the three-week Manhattan Supreme Court trial.

Weinstein, 67, faces two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape and one count of criminal sexual act stemming from the allegations of “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, hairstylist Jessica Mann and former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi.

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But experts say the case suffers from several damaging cracks — namely that the two main victims, Haleyi and Mann, admitted they had consensual sex with Weinstein after the alleged attacks.

The pair also accepted gifts from Weinstein and sent him affectionate emails despite the heinous nature of his alleged behavior.

“It is virtually unheard of for a prosecutor to bring rape charges while conceding that after the alleged crime the accuser engaged in consensual sex and sent flattering messages to the alleged attacker,” said former Manhattan prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Mark Bederow.

“Pre “Me Too,” a case with this fact pattern almost assuredly wouldn’t have been prosecuted.”

Unlike the other accusers, Sciorra didn’t maintain a friendly relationship with Weinstein after he allegedly held her down and violently raped her in her Gramercy Park apartment 27 years ago.

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But her allegations are beyond the statute of limitations. Prosecutors were only able to use her testimony to prop up two counts of predatory sexual assault. The charge does not have a time restriction.

The first count of predatory sexual assault alleges that Weinstein raped Sciorra in the winter months of 1993 to 1994 then Mann on March 18, 2013, inside a Midtown hotel. The second count charges that he raped Sciorra then forced oral sex on Haleyi July 10, 2006.

If the jury doesn’t find Mann or Haleyi credible, they can’t convict on either predatory sexual assault count.

The other three accusers who took the stand — model Lauren Young, waitress Tarale Wulff and aspiring actress Dawn Dunning — were permitted to testify about uncharged conduct to show how he lured in his victims and assaulted them.

If convicted, Weinstein faces a maximum of 25 to life on each of the top counts of predatory sexual assault.

If the panel only finds him guilty of first-degree criminal sexual act for the alleged forced oral sex on Haleyi in his Soho apartment, he would get a prison term of between five and 25 years.

He faces the same potential term if convicted of the first-degree rape of Mann.

If the jury decides that the attack on Mann was third-degree rape, he could get as little as probation.

Since the charges stem from separate incidents, he could be sentenced consecutively if he’s convicted of more than one count.

“If the defendant was an unknown person instead of Harvey Weinstein with the baggage that he brings to this process, I suspect there would be a swift acquittal,” Bederow said.

New York Post

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