The jury in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial said in a note on Friday that they could not agree on the two most serious charges against the disgraced Hollywood producer, but the presiding judge in the case urged them to keep deliberating.
The panel of seven men and five women are now expected to reconvene Monday for their fifth day of deliberations in the case, which represents a watershed moment for the Me Too movement.
In their note to the court, jurors asked whether it was acceptable to be deadlocked on the two charges and unanimous on the other three.
“Any verdict you return on any count, whether guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous,” New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke said. He went on to assure them that it is not unusual for a jury to have difficulty initially reaching a unanimous decision.
“And so I will ask you to continue your deliberations and let me just take this juncture to thank you for your hard work,” Burke concluded.
Weinstein, 67, stands accused of raping one woman, former aspiring actor Jessica Mann, and forcibly performing oral sex on another, former production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haley. Testimony from a third woman, “Sopranos” actor Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s, served to bolster those accusations. (Sciorra’s rape happened too long ago to merit criminal charges on its own.)
The two most serious charges ― two counts of predatory sexual assault, one for Mann and one for Haley ― each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Prosecutors told jurors that they would need to believe Sciorra in order to find Weinstein guilty on either predatory sexual assault charge. That is, they would need to believe Mann and Sciorra, or Haley and Sciorra, or both.
The lesser charges consist of two counts of rape and one count of criminal sexual conduct.
Jurors have so far sent 10 notes to the court. On Tuesday, their first day of deliberations, they asked for clarity on the charges. They appeared to hone in on Haley’s accusation on Wednesday, and later asked to review testimony and evidence related to Sciorra’s accusation.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the accusers and the defense traded barbs. Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lone female attorney, complained to the judge on Friday about critical remarks from Gloria Allred, who represents the accusers.
The judge was forced to issue a gag order against Weinstein’s defense earlier in the week, after Rotunno wrote an opinion piece for Newsweek that directly addressed the jury. Earlier this month, she gave an interview on The New York Times podcast “The Daily” in which she shamelessly blamed sexual assault victims for their attacks by claiming she had never been raped because she would never put herself “in that position.”
Weinstein is also facing criminal charges in Los Angeles. More than 80 women have come forward to accuse the once-powerful industry mogul of sexual misconduct.