Former Hollywood kingmaker Harvey Weinstein is on trial for sexual assault in New York. As the jury began its deliberations on Tuesday morning, they were unable to reach a verdict and asked for additional guidance and information.
Weinstein, who has been using a walker to enter and exit the courthouse, told reporters that he felt “good” about the first day of deliberations.
After about an hour of discussion behind closed doors, the jury asked New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke for clarification about the charges against Weinstein. Specifically, they were curious about why the charges stemming from his alleged rape of actress Annabella Sciorra were paired with the predatory sexual assault charges from more recent incidents instead of being filed independently.
Sciorra’s testimony was presented to support the idea that this was a pattern of behavior dating back to the 90s, when she claims Weinstein raped her, but the statute of limitations has already passed to press charges for the alleged assault.
The jury also asked to see a list of women’s names that Weinstein had allegedly flagged for his private detectives to investigate in 2017 as part of his attempt to (again, allegedly) get ahead of the impending disaster and smear the victims before they could accuse him of assault.
The main defense offered by attorney Donna Rotunno is that the women who slept with Weinstein–who chose to meet with him in hotel rooms or at his apartment to discuss their careers–knew exactly what they were getting into. And even if they didn’t, Rotunno argued, they should have been smart enough not to put themselves in danger.
Rotunno boasted that she had never been assaulted because she had not put herself “in the position” where it might happen. She told the jury that the accusers were offering “regret renamed as rape.”
If Weinstein is found guilty on either or both of the predatory sexual assault charges, he could be facing life in prison. The other felony charges of rape and sexual assault carry a maximum 25-year sentence.
A further wrinkle was introduced when Donna Rotunno published an op-ed article in Newsweek urging the jury to “do what they know is right”–a move that the prosecution claims is clearly jury tampering. Judge Burke cautioned Rotunno and the rest of the defense team not to talk to the press but did not take any further action.