Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s conviction was the first step in achieving justice for his accusers.
While over 80 women have made accusations of rape or sexual assault against Weinstein, only two — Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann — successfully pressed charges in the trial.
Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual assault in the first degree. He was found not guilty of predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape.
It might seem unusual to be guilty of one kind of sexual assault and rape but not another, however the distinctions are based on the severity of the act.
Three degrees of rape and sexual assault exist in the New York Penal code. The third degree is the lightest charge, while the first degree is the heaviest.
Third degree charges relate to sexual encounters with someone who does not or who cannot consent.
Second degree charges relate to cases with a large age difference, or if the survivor cannot consent due to mental or physical disabilities.
First degree charges apply in cases of “forcible compulsion”, such as when violence, kidnapping or threats are used, or if the survivor is a young child.
Former aspiring actress Jessica Mann alleged that Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 2013. The jury found Weinstein guilty of rape in the third degree but not in the first degree.
This means the jury found Weinstein guilty of engaging in sexual activity without Mann’s consent, but also without “forcible compulsion”.
Former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley alleged that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his apartment in 2006. The jury found Weinstein guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree.
This means that the jury found Weinstein guilty of using “forcible compulsion” against Haley.
Weinstein was also charged with predatory sexual assault, one of the most serious sexual charges in the state of New York.
To be found guilty of predatory sexual assault, a jury must determine that the accused has committed rape, a criminal sexual act, or aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree against multiple individuals.
In this case, the charge related to the aforementioned cases of Mann and Haley, as well as that of actor Annabella Sciorra, who accused Weinstein of raping her in 1993.
Because Mann’s accusations led to third degree convictions (as opposed to first degree charges), and Sciorra’s accusations did not lead to any convictions, Weinstein has only been convicted of a first degree crime against one person — Haley.
While Weinstein has been found guilty of both rape and a criminal sexual act, he has not been found guilty of first degree charges against multiple individuals, and this not guilty of predatory sexual assault.
Weinstein’s lawyer has said he plans to appeal the decision before he is sentenced on March 11. He also faces charges in California.
Around 80 more women have accused Weinstein and have not yet testified in court.Image: Getty Images / Barcroft Media