15:16, February 21 270 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-21 15:16:05
Harvey Weinstein trial: jury appears to reach partial verdict

The jury at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in New York appears to have reached a verdict on three of the five counts facing him, though they are deadlocked on the most serious charge – predatory sexual assault.

Shortly after the lunch break on Friday, the five men and seven women of the jury were called back into court having indicated that in three counts they have reached their decision. These are: the count that alleges the fallen movie mogul forced oral sex on a then Project Runway production assistant, Miriam Haley, in 2006 and two counts of rape in 2013 of a woman who the Guardian is not naming as her intentions on identification are unclear.

However, the jury also made clear that they cannot reach a unanimous decision on counts one and/or three. Those predatory sexual assault counts involve sex crimes against more than one woman, and carry the stiffest sentence of all amounting to at least 10 years in prison and possibly life.

After a nail-biting few minutes in court 99 of the New York supreme court, in which an imminent verdict appeared possible, the judge James Burke, in consultation with prosecutors and Weinstein’s defense team, told the jury to keep on going. He said with a little more work they could reach unanimity on those counts too. The jury will now pick up its deliberations on Monday.

The jury’s problems with the predatory sexual assault counts are in tune with their requests over the past two days. They have been focused on Annabella Sciorra, the former Sopranos actor.

She testified in the trial that Weinstein, 67, brutally raped her some time during the winter of 1993 to 1994 in her Gramercy Park apartment in Manhattan. The alleged incident occurred so long ago it is beyond the statute of limitations and cannot be prosecuted in its right.

Sciorra is though included in the predatory sexual assault charges in addition to Haley and the unnamed alleged rape victim.

The fourth day of deliberations began on Friday with a re-reading of large chunks of Sciorra’s testimony, at the jury’s request.

Before going home the day before, the Manhattan jury had sent the judge a note saying it wanted to review the cross-examination of the Sopranos actor and any follow-up questioning by prosecutors. About 90 minutes into the reading, the jurors notified the judge they had “heard enough” and resumed their deliberations.

The jury has already focused on emails that Weinstein sent regarding Sciorra, including ones to the private Israeli spy agency he allegedly enlisted to dig up dirt on would-be accusers as reporters were working on stories about allegations against him in 2017.

Sciorra, now 59, was the first accuser to testify and took the witness stand nearly a month ago, telling jurors how the once-powerful movie mogul showed up unexpectedly at the door of her Manhattan apartment before barging in and raping and forcibly performing oral sex on her.

On cross-examination, Sciorra was grilled about why she opened her door in the first place and didn’t find a way to escape if she was under attack.

Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno asked: “Why didn’t you try to run out of the apartment? Did you scratch him? Try to poke him in the eyes?”

“He was too big” to fight off, Sciorra responded at one point. “He was frightening.”

  • In the US, Rainn offers support at 800-656-4673 or by chat at Rainn.org. In the UK, the rape crisis national freephone helpline is at 0808-802-9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800-737-7328) or 1800respect.org.au. Other international helplines can be found at Ibiblio.org.