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Weinstein accusers welcome rape, sexual assault conviction

Accusers of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul.
Weinstein accusers welcome rape, sexual assault conviction

New York, Feb 25 Accusers of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul.

Actress Rose McGowan told the BBC "this is a great day", while others said the ruling brought hope to victims that their voices would be heard.

Weinstein, 67, was on Monday convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act.

He was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault.

Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison over the guilty verdicts relating to two women. His lawyers say he will appeal.

"I'm innocent. How can this happen in America?" Weinstein's lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted his client as saying, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The former movie executive still faces charges in Los Angeles of assaulting two women in 2013.

In all, at least 80 women had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

Most of those complaints, however, have not led to criminal charges, as they are beyond the statute of limitations - meaning they happened too long ago.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that prompted women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King's Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

He was taken to New York's Bellevue Hospital reportedly suffering from chest pains after the verdict was announced.

He had been due to be moved to prison on Riker's Island to await sentencing.

The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations.

Weinstein who denied all charges was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately.

But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann.

In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.

A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent.

Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and attack women.

The defence team said sex between the movie executive and the accusers was consensual, and that the accusers used it to advance their careers.

The allegations amounted to "regret renamed as rape", the defence said. Two of the accusers kept in contact with Weinstein and had sex with him after the alleged attacks, they pointed out.

( With inputs from IANS )

Weinstein accusers welcome rape, sexual assault conviction
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