After an emotional trial, the verdict has finally come in for media mogul Harvey Weinstein in his New York sexual assault case. According to BuzzFeed News, a jury found Weinstein guilty of third degree rape for one woman and a criminal sexual act for another. For the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein was acquitted. Considering people’s past comparisons of Weinstein’s case to Bill Cosby‘s, the outcome of Weinstein’s trial already has Black Twitter sounding off.
The verdict for Weinstein’s case arrived after a six-week trial and four days of deliberation by the jurors. The charges against the 67-year-old were based on the accounts of two women — Jessica Mann, an aspiring actor who said Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel in 2013 and a former production assistant, Miriam Haley, who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006. Six women in all testified during the trial, providing intense accounts of how Weinstein forced them into non-consensual and degrading sexual acts. Actor Annabella Sciorra provided a testimony that Weinstein raped her in the ’90s and it was used to bolster the two predatory sexual assault charges against him in combination with the testimonies Mann and Haley provided.
Weinstein faced five charges, but due to the structure of the charges, he could only be convicted of two charges at the most. Thus, he was handed down the criminal sexual act in the first degree conviction for forcibly performing oral sex on Haley and the third degree rape conviction in connection to Mann’s rape allegation. The third degree rape conviction carries a possible sentence of probation to 4 years in prison. Meanwhile, the criminal sexual act carries a sentence of 5 to 25 years in prison.
The predatory sexual assault charges for which Weinstein was acquitted carried a possible life sentence. Prosecutors had three other women take the stand — Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Marie Young — to testify that they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein in order to prove a pattern of his predatory behavior over the years.
Mann’s testimony, which was essential to the case, was a horrific account of how Weinstein forced oral sex on her, raped her and then manipulated her into a degrading relationship in which he urinated on her, wanted to film her having sex and asked if she liked his “big Jewish d*ck.” She explained that the confusion and fear she experienced after the abuse caused her to stay in the relationship, even after he raped and assaulted her.
Haley also gave a harrowing account, breaking down on the stand to describe how Weinstein sexually assaulted her twice over two years. “I thought … I thought he was a nice person, I thought he was an OK guy,” she said. “At the time I thought rape was something that happened in the dark, in a back alley, something a stranger did to you with a gun to your head.”
Weinstein has yet to be sentenced, but his conviction is already igniting comparisons to Bill Cosby.
In April 2018, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand. Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison in September 2018. His bail was revoked and he was taken out of the court in handcuffs. Cosby was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the cost of prosecution, and he was classified as a “sexually violent predator.”
Cosby’s verdict came after a previous trial ended in a mistrial and after juror’s deliberated over two days. At the retrial, five of Cosby’s accusers testified as “prior bad acts” witnesses and alleged that Cosby drugged and assaulted them decades ago.
Both Cosby and Weinstein have been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women outside of their trials.
In general, convicting someone for rape or sexual assault is a challenging task. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a vast amount of rape cases will not end in a felony conviction or prison time. According to The Washington Post, less than 1% of rapes lead to a felony conviction, meanwhile 89% of victims face physical or emotional consequences.
After Bill Cosby’s conviction, many people like Snoop Dogg, continued to defend the convicted assaulter and redirected attention to Weinstein, arguing that he wasn’t getting as much attention because of his white privilege. However, with Weinstein’s new conviction, plus an upcoming sentence that could possibly lead to more years than Bill Cosby, plus additional charges against Weinstein in L.A., the debate has started as to whether redirecting attention to Weinstein is a healthy tactic in the discussion on race and sexual assault.
Check out what Twitter has to say below.