Accusers of Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul.
Actress Rose McGowan told the BBC “this is a great day”, while others said the ruling brought hope to victims that their voices would be heard.
Weinstein, 67, was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act.
He was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault.
Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison over the guilty verdicts relating to two women. His lawyers say he will appeal.
“I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?” Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted his client as saying.
The former movie executive still faces charges in Los Angeles of assaulting two women in 2013.
In all, at least 80 women had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek. Most of those complaints, however, have not led to criminal charges, as they are beyond the statute of limitations – meaning they happened too long ago.
The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that prompted women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.
Weinstein once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.
He was taken to New York’s Bellevue Hospital reportedly suffering from chest pains after the verdict was announced.
He had been due to be moved to prison on Riker’s Island to await sentencing.
What happened in the New York court?
The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations.
Weinstein – who denied all charges – was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately.
But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann.
In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.
A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent.
Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and attack women.
The defence team said sex between the movie executive and the accusers was consensual, and that the accusers used it to advance their careers.
The allegations amounted to “regret renamed as rape”, the defence said. Two of the accusers kept in contact with Weinstein and had sex with him after the alleged attacks, they pointed out.
How did we get here?
- Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades
- Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations
- As dozens more accusations emerged, Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company and all but banished from Hollywood
- A criminal investigation was launched in New York in late 2017, but Weinstein was not charged until May 2018, when he turned himself in to police.
What were the allegations in this case?
Ms Haleyi, who had worked on one of Weinstein’s television productions, said she was assaulted by the producer after he invited her to his Lower Manhattan home.
She testified that he backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her.
Ms Mann said that she found herself in an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that did not involve intercourse until he raped her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.
She said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure who could be charming in public but showed his dark side when they were alone.
Another one of Weinstein’s accusers, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors he raped her in her apartment one night in the mid-1990s.
Her allegation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, but prosecutors used it in an attempt to demonstrate that the accused was a repeat sexual offender.
Following the verdict, Ms Sciorra said: “I spoke for myself and with the strength of the 80-plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart.”
Three other also women testified they were lured to apparent work meetings with Weinstein, then sexually assaulted.
What more reaction has there been?
Rose McGowan told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “The little girl I was when I was hurt, she’s ecstatic…This is a great day. The trash has been taken out.”
The actress, who was an early Weinstein accuser, added: “The fact that we are white women and attractive and of some means and it still took this many of us to even get him to have one day in court – just tells you…how almost impossible it is to even be heard, period, let alone [get] any kind of conviction.”
In a joint letter, actresses Ashley Judd, Lucia Evans and Rosanna Arquette and 19 other Weinstein accusers called it “disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve,” but expressed gratitude towards all the women who came forward to speak out against him.
Meanwhile, Ms Rotunno said that “the fight is not over”.
“Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man and he knows we will continue to fight for him and he knows that this is not over.”
Ms Rotunno said her client was disappointed, but “mentally tough”.
What happens next?
- Weinstein will be sentenced on 11 March
- He still faces charges of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles, and there are other cases under review, according to the county district attorney
- Civil complaints against Weinstein continue to be fought
- In December 2019, lawyers said they reached a tentative $25m (£19m) deal with some accusers