Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and criminal sexual act his New York trial today—more than two years after allegations against the Hollywood mogul first emerged.
Weinstein faces up to 29 years in prison after being found guilty of rape in the third degree, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. According to the New York Times, Weinstein appeared unmoved as the verdict was read, repeating the words, “But, I am innocent,” three times to his lawyer.
The verdict is considered a victory to many, including Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation. The organization, whose members include celebrities such as Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon, combats workplace inequality and wrongdoing.
“This trial — and the jury’s decision today — marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work,” Tchen wrote in a statement issued earlier today.
To others, the verdict fell short. Weinstein was acquitted of two counts of predatory sexual assault, which might have warranted a life sentence.
Emmy St. Pierre, a sophomore screenwriting major in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) said she experienced mixed emotions about the sentencing.
“It’s tough to be ‘happy’ about it because he wasn’t charged with the most major crimes, but it is nice he’s getting some sort of punishment and jail time.” St. Pierre said. “It also is pretty disappointing that this verdict is sort of what is expected,”
Maia Mizrahi, a sophomore film and television production major chose to focus on the positive.
“Even though he was found not guilty on the two worst charges, he still may be facing jail time and I just think that is almost rewarding to see that things are changing,” Mizrahi said.
The case is indeed not over. Weinstein faces a second trial in Los Angeles on four counts of rape and sexual battery. If convicted, the producer could face up to 28 years in prison.
The remaining accusations are from Lauren Young and an unidentified woman, who say that Weinstein assaulted them at LA hotels, including Mr. C Beverly Hills. The incidents are said to have taken place in February 2013.
Weinstein was hit with the additional charges from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in early January.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit crimes against them...I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them,” Los Angeles Dist. Atty., Jackie Lacey said in a statement.
Lacey’s office declined to comment on the New York sentencing of Weinstein.
There is some overlap between the two cases, as one of the LA victims was called as a witness in the New York trial to recount her experiences with Mr. Weinstein and establish a pattern of behavior for the jury.
Looking ahead to the LA trial, Jody Armour, the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, said these verdicts should have no bearing on the upcoming trial as they are two separate cases altogether.
However, for the LA case, the district attorney will have access to all previous testimonies. “It could really pave the path for prosecution in LA by making the DA’s job in LA much simpler and more straight forward.” said Armour.
More than 80 women have come forward and accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has denied all charges, claiming the acts were consensual.