Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Assault and Rape Conviction, Explained

On February 24, 2020, a New York jury handed down a verdict that meant the sex predator movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree of one victim and criminal sexual assault in the first degree of another victim. Both women testified to their abuse during trial. Harvey Weinstein’s conviction is a significant victory for survivors of sexual assault who rarely find justice through the criminal system. 

Prosecutors are notoriously hesitant to prosecute sexual assault crimes which oftentimes lack physical evidence beyond the victim’s testimony. And, as we know, victims face many obstacles in coming forward which means considerable time can pass before they are in a position to do so. 

Although Weinstein was acquitted of the more serious crimes of predatory sexual assault and rape in the first degree, the conviction that was handed down should not be seen as only a partial victory. 

We commend the prosecutors for taking a swing at those charges which allows for the survivors’ stories to be told. It is important to realize that just by bringing the charges a measure of justice is done by believing the women. Furthermore, these crimes require very specific elements to be proven making them extremely difficult to prosecute. 

For example, in New York (where this first case against Harvey Weinstein was tried), predatory sexual assault requires first that you establish the perpetrator committed rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, or course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree and then you must also prove that during the commission of the crime the perpetrator caused serious physical injury (which has its own legal definition) to the victim; or used or threatened to use a weapon; or has committed one of these crimes in the past or was previously convicted of related felony crimes. Despite the acquittal on this charge, his conviction of the others confirm that he is indeed a sexual predator and that women’s voices are finally being heard.

Lastly, don’t forget that Weinstein is still set to face rape charges in Los Angeles. He has not made his plea in that case and perhaps the guilty verdict here will lead to a guilty plea in L.A.

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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