Nfter weeks of courtroom drama and more than 40 testimonies, the fate of Harvey Weinstein is now in the hands of the jury. In the trial against the former film producer for sexual assault, the twelve jurors retired on Friday afternoon (local time) in Los Angeles to deliberate on the verdict. There was no quick decision. They should meet again on Monday to reach a verdict.
The jury must decide on seven counts, including rape and other sexual assault. It is about allegations by four women in a period from 2004 to 2013. Most of the attacks are said to have taken place in hotels in Beverly Hills. In the event of a guilty verdict on all counts, the 70-year-old faces decades of imprisonment.
In their closing arguments, the defense and prosecution once again used drastic words. At the end of the trial, prosecutor Marlene Martinez described Weinstein as a “degenerate rapist,” according to journalists present at the court. He used his power to prey on women and act like a predator. His hotel room had become a trap for women. Martinez punctuated her words in front of the jury by showing an image of a wolf.
The defense argued that the sex acts were consensual or that some of the allegations made were fabricated by the women. Weinstein’s attorney Mark Werksman had already taken action against the plaintiffs at the start of the trial in October. They would lie, invent encounters or present them completely differently under the influence of the #MeToo movement. At the time, the women had consensual sex with his client to get ahead in Hollywood, Werksman said. That was common in the industry. That was the “casting couch” with sex as a commodity, the lawyer explained in court, according to the reporter.
California governor’s wife among female witnesses
The four plaintiffs and other witnesses described the alleged abuse, some in tears. They reported forced oral sex, rape and other violent assaults. In the process, intimate details and abnormalities of Weinstein’s allegedly deformed genitals were addressed.
Jennifer Siebel, wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, also took the stand. She described meeting Weinstein in 2005 at a hotel. At that time she was not yet married. As an aspiring actress and producer, she wanted to talk about professional projects. According to her statement, Weinstein assaulted her, dragged her onto a bed and raped her. She cried, trembled and tried to fend him off, Siebel said.
She later met Gavin Newsom, whom she married in 2008. The Democrat has been governor of California since 2019. Siebel, who was listed as plaintiff Jane Doe #4 in the trial, previously revealed her identity.
Jane Doe #1 had stated on the witness stand that she had traveled from Rome to Hollywood in February 2013 for a film festival. Weinstein came into her hotel room on the pretext that he wanted to talk. He forced her to have oral sex there, she said sobbing.
With the trial in California, Weinstein was again on trial for sexual assault. A trial in New York for rape and sexual assault ended in 2020 with a guilty verdict and a 23-year sentence. The jury believed the testimonies of several women, despite Weinstein’s protestations of innocence. However, his legal team recently appealed the verdict. A decision on this is still pending.
The trial in New York marked a milestone in legal history. The case had significantly triggered the #MeToo movement at the time.
Weinstein, who produced films like “Pulp Fiction” or “Gangs of New York” and won an Oscar himself as the producer of “Shakespeare in Love”, was in the summer of 2021 from his New York cell to the “Twin Towers” prison in Los Angeles been relocated. If found guilty in a California court, he faces a long prison sentence.