As Harvey Weinstein was led off in handcuffs to the Riker’s Island , the New York County District Attorney’s office declared a “new day” for sexual assault survivors in America.
“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America I believe, and this is a new day,” said D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr to the throng of cameras less than an hour after a jury found the much-accused producer guilty of two of five counts in the nearly two-month rape trial.
“It’s a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for the crimes he committed,” Vance added as chief prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon stood by his side. “The women who came forward courageously and at great risk made that happen,” NYC’s top lawyer also said to the media this morning. “Weinstein is a vicious sexual predator, who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, humiliate and silence his victims.”
While a partial victory for the D.A. and Weinstein found innocent of the felonies that could have seen him behind bars for life, today’s verdict comes as a surprise to many. In what many saw as weaker witnesses for the prosecution and then the somewhat deadlocked jury announcement on February 21, it looked likely that Harvey Weinstein could be acquitted or escape via a hung jury as Bill Cosby did in his first trial.
Clearly, over the weekend, something shifted as the seven men and five women of the jury came to work ready to lay down the law. Set to be sentenced on March 11, the 67-year old Weinstein could be in a state prison for up to 25 years on one count and four years on another.
“Well I’m certainly not dissatisfied with the verdict,” Vance asserted on Monday after the verdict was unveiled. “This was a very difficult case, a very challenging case.”
“It is not the top counts in the indictment, but by no means am I disappointed with the jury’s unanimous statement that Harvey Weinstein is guilty of sexual assault and rape,” the D.A. noted.
“Words can’t describe adequately the sacrifices these survivors made to pursue justice,” Vance also said. “Weinstein, with his manipulation, his resources, his attorneys, his publicists, and his spies, did everything he could to silence these survivors. But they refused to be silent. They spoke from their hearts, and they were heard.”
Today’s verdict comes five years after Vance’s office declined to place charges against Weinstein over an assault against Amber Battilana Gutierrez. Prompting probes by the NY Governor and others, the D.A. said that the case of the Italian model lacked enough evidence, even though Gutierrez wore a NYPD wire.
Up for a fourth term in 2021, Vance came under additional scrutiny for having accepted campaign donations from Weinstein since he first ran for D.A. in 2009.
Awaiting sentencing of Weinstein in NYC, now LA County D.A. Jackie Lacey has the disgraced producer coming up on her schedule after charging him with rape and sexual battery allegations on January 6, the first day of East Coast trial.
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