Jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial told the judge they may be deadlocked on one or both counts of the most serious charge facing the movie producer, predatory sexual assault.
The jurors, on their fourth day of deliberations, asked the judge if they could be hung on that charge — which could send Weinstein to prison for life if he is convicted — while being unanimous on the counts of rape and a criminal sexual act.
New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke told the jury to continue its deliberations. The defense had asked him to accept a partial verdict; the prosecution argued against it.
“We the jury would like to understand if we can be hung on 1 and OR 3 but unanimous on the other charges,” the panel of seven men and five women said to the judge in a note Friday afternoon.
“Any verdict you return on any count, guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous,” the judge told the panel. “If you don’t reach a unanimous verdict, you can’t return a verdict on that count. It’s not uncommon for a jury to think that they’ll never be able to reach a unanimous verdict. I will ask you to continue to continue your deliberations and I thank you for your hard work.”
This is the first time the panel has indicated it might be deadlocked.
Whatever the outcome, the trial marks an extraordinary moment in a national reckoning over the abuse and assault of women in the workplace. Weinstein, who never took the witness stand himself, was charged with forcing oral sex on “Project Runway” assistant Miriam Haley in his SoHo loft in 2006 and raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in a midtown Manhattan hotel in 2013. Prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. called several additional witnesses to establish a pattern of predation.
In a category by herself was the actor Annabella Sciorra, whose searing account of an assault in her Gramercy Park apartment a quarter century ago was among the trial’s unforgettable moments. Sciorra’s testimony is crucial to the predatory sexual assault charge.
In order to find Weinstein guilty of count 1, for example, the jury would need to be persuaded by the evidence for the attacks on both Haley and Sciorra. To convict him on count 3, the panel would need to find that he assaulted both Mann and Sciorra.
The case against Weinstein hinged on whether the panel believed Mann and Haley, who went years without reporting the alleged attacks. Weinstein’s lawyers suggested through questioning that the women had “re-labeled” consensual encounters as assaults long after the fact, in the wake of the news reports that set off #MeToo.
They pointed to evidence that Mann may have continued to have sexual encounters with Weinstein into late 2016, more than three years after the alleged rape — a behavior typical of victims, according to a forensic psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution.
The jury was dismissed for the weekend.
— With assistance by Olivia Rockeman, and Olivia Raimonde
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