Harvey Weinstein's guilty verdict explained

After five days of deliberating and six women's testimonies, the jury's verdict is officially in: Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two of the five charges he faced in court in Manhattan, as reported by NPR. The disgraced movie producer was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act. He was acquitted on two counts of predatory sexual assault  — which NPR deemed "the most serious charges against him" — and first-degree rape.

Per The New York Times, Weinstein was sent to jail immediately on Feb. 24, 2020 while he awaits his sentencing on March 11, 2020. It's estimated that he could face five to 25 years in prison. If he had been convicted of predatory sexual assault, the 67-year-old could have faced life in prison. Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all charges and has a long history of denying the lengthy list of sexual assault and misconduct claims against him. According to CNN, he is expected to appeal the verdict. 

Let's take a closer look at Weinstein's trial and what led to this long-awaited verdict.

Who testified against Harvey Weinstein?

Harvey Weinstein's Manhattan trial began in early January 2020. As reported by The New York Times, the charges were based on allegations from a few women — Miriam Haley (who previously went by the name Mimi Haleyi) claimed Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in 2006; Jessica Mann claimed he raped her in a hotel room in 2013; and Annabella Sciorra, accused Weinstein of rape after allegedly forcing himself into her apartment. Although the statute of limitations had passed on Sciorra testifying alone, her claims were used to support the predatory rape charges, of which he was ultimately found not guilty.

Three additional women testified in court to establish a pattern of behavior. Those women were Dawn Dunning, who accused Weinstein of touching her genitals and propositioning her for a threesome; Tarale Wulff, who claimed he masturbated in front of her and later sexually assaulted her; and Lauren Young, who alleged he grabbed her breasts and masturbated in front of her in a hotel.

Haley's attorney, Gloria Allred, said after the trial (via CNN), "This is the age of empowerment of women. And you cannot intimidate them anymore. Women will not be silenced." Following the verdict, actress Ashley Judd, a prominent Weinstein accuser, tweeted, "For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere, thank you." 

Harvey Weinstein's verdict was years in the making

In October 2017, journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published an exposé about Harvey Weinstein in The New York Times. In the piece, a range of women came forward with nearly three decades' worth of claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment against the producer. That report, which earned the pair a Pulitzer, opened the floodgates for subsequent allegations, including a New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow that brought additional disturbing claims to light. 

While six women testified in the NYC trial, at least 100 women have come forward with their own allegations against Weinstein, per CNN. That includes accusations from actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Lupita Nyong'o, Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Rosanna Arquette, and Angelina Jolie.

Throughout it all, Weinstein has claimed his innocence, initially releasing a statement that doubled as an apology. "I came of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone," he said. "I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed. I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it."

Harvey Weinstein's verdict is a major moment for the #MeToo movement

Following the verdict against Harvey Weinstein, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, released a statement. She tweeted, "This isn't my personal victory," while sharing her thoughts about the moment. "This wouldn't have been possible without the voices of the silence breakers in and outside of the courtroom, the survivors who courageously testified, and the jurors who, despite an unrelenting and unethical defense strategy, voted to find an unremorseful Harvey Weinstein guilty," she wrote on the #MeToo website. "The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world."

The group known as "The Silence Breakers" — which includes some Weinstein accusers, as well as others who have come forward with allegations — shared its thoughts as well. The group's lawyer told CNN, "This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out."

The Time's Up Foundation also celebrated the moment, tweeting: "It's a victory for survivors everywhere — and for all those who believe in justice." Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of the organization, which works to end workplace harassment and injustice, announced, "The jury's verdict sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement."

Harvey Weinstein is still facing charges in Los Angeles

Harvey Weinstein's legal battles aren't over yet. While the Manhattan charges have been sorted out, Harvey Weinstein is still facing charges in Los Angeles. His indictment in California took place on the first day of his Manhattan trial on Jan. 6, 2020. Per CNN, Weinstein faces felony charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint tied to two separate incidents in February 2013 that happened within one day of each another. Neither female accuser has been publicly identified.

How those charges play out remains to be seen, but Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said (via NPR), "We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them." A trial is expected to take place in Los Angeles, but a date has not been set.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.