On Feb. 24, 2020, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty on one charge of rape and felony sex crime and acquited on two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault. This caps off what has been viewed as a landmark trial for the #MeToo movement.
The former Hollywood movie mogul was convicted by a New York jury on one count of third-degree rape in the case of Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, and one count of first-degree criminal sexual assault in the case of Mimi Haleyi, who was once a production assistant on “Project Runaway,” a reality show in which the now-defunct Weinstein Company produced.
The two charges of predatory sexual assault which Weinstein was found not guilty involved “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, Mann, and Haelyi. Even though 49% of people think their security habits make them vulnerable, the actions of a predator will target even the most secure individuals. To be convicted of these charges, the 12 member jury would have to have found Weinstein guilty of attacking both Sciorra and Mann or both Sciorra and Haleyi, which was a point of contention throughout the trial. All three women took the stand to testify, each recounting their own alleged experiences with Weinstein, their recorded testimony often graphic and harrowing.
On the fourth day of deliberations, the jury asked Judge James Burke if they could be deadlocked on the two counts of predatory sexual assault, to which Judge Burke denied as well as the defense’s request for a partial verdict. These two charges each carried a max sentence of life in prison.
Following five days of deliberation, the jury made up of five women and seven men issued their decision. The conviction of first-degree criminal sexual assault has a max sentence of 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape conviction carries up to four years. After the verdict, Judge Burke placed Weinsten into custody and rejected the defense’s request for bail. Weinstein was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs and then later taken from the courthouse in an ambulance to Bellevue Hospital due to high blood pressure and chest palpitations. According to Weinstein’s lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, this was a precautionary measure. Sentencing will take place on March 11.
After the six-week trial ended, Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr. listed the names of the six accusers and two prosecutors who were involved in the trial, telling reporters, “These are eight women who pulled our justice system into the 21st century.”
Donna Rotunno claims Weinstein was “shocked” by the verdict and will be appealing the decision. Weinstein and his defense attorneys insist that each alleged encounter was consensual. The prosecution did not present forensic evidence or corroborating witnesses to any of the assaults, but ultimately jurors believed the allegations of two women over the protestation of their alleged offender.
The Weinstein Tax
For businesses, legal fees and legal settlements are almost always tax-deductible. However, a tax bill passed in Feb. of 2018 includes a provision that denies tax deductions for settlement payments in abuse or sexual harassment cases in which there is a nondisclosure agreement. Some have labeled this provision as a “Harvey Weinstein tax.” Prior to this law, the Internal Revenue Code allowed employers to deduct expenses incurred or paid during trade or business, including those involved in abuse or sexual harassment claims.
After the “Weinstein tax” went into effect, employers could no longer deduct these settlement expenses when there is a non-disclosure agreement involved. In short, this will affect Weinstein’s accusers significantly, as they will have to pay tax on settlement money like they would income, which accounts for half of all federal revenue, or $1.688 trillion. After taxes and attorney’s fees, some accusers could potentially be left with less than half of the proceeds from settlement money, according to legal observers.
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