What Is Third Degree Rape? All Your Questions About The Harvey Weinstein Verdict Answered

What's happening with the Los Angeles trial? And why was he using a walker? We've done a deep-dive to answer all your questions.

Harvey Weinstein

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two of the lesser five charges in his trial yesterday: a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. The producer avoided two charges of predatory sexual assault, which carries a greater sentence. Now, he faces between five and 25 years in prison. However, there are still many questions left unanswered.

What is Riker Island?

Immediately after his verdict, Weinstein was rerouted to Bellevue Hospital in New York, as opposed to heading straight to prison, after complaining of chest pains. His lawyer, Donna Rotunno, confirmed that he is now fine and will now spend the time until his sentencing in the notorious Riker Island prison.

Known as the Guantanamo of New York, the prison has been called Gladiator School, Torture Island and in summer is known as The Oven. In 2014, it was reported that dozens of inmates had died because of heat in their cells.

In fact, conditions there are said to be so horrendous that it is due to be closed down. This won't happen until 2026, though, when the jail is replaced with four new ones around the city. With around 10,000 inmates to rehouse - it is the second-largest jail complex in the US - it is a big job.

After the verdict, Rotunno requested that Weinstein be held in one of the infirmaries because of his 'significant medical issues' - which include diabetes and a spinal condition.

Why was Harvey Weinstein using a walker?

Weinstein's zimmer frame was a big talking point of his trial, notably because he had not being seen with it until his December 11th court date last year. At the time, it was reported that Weinstein was using the walker because he was having back surgery following a car accident in August.

Weinstein has continued to use the walker since his operation, with his lawyer also confirming he has type 2 diabetes.

Is Weinstein facing another trial in Los Angeles?

Weinstein was charged with rape and sexual assault of two women in Los Angeles in 2013. However, the trial was put on hold during the New York one. The charges include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. They carry a potential 28-year sentence.

While the LA district attorney's office has confirmed they are 'definitely proceeding' with the case, according to New York Times reporter Ronan Farrow, there is no word on when and how this will happen. According to Laurie Levenson, criminal law professor at Loyola Law School, Weinstein's options are to pursue a plea deal in the LA trial or face a second trial. She told the Guardian he could be brought to California immediately after his sentencing on the 11 March.

What was Harvey Weinstein found guilty of?

Weinstein was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first-degree for forcibly performing oral sex on former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haleyi, and rape in the third-degree relating to Jessica Mann. The 67-year-old now faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, with his sentencing on the 11 March.

The verdict comes after the 12-person jury spent five days deliberating. Last Friday, the jury appeared to suggest that they were deadlocked on the two charges of predatory sexual assault, even asking the judge if they could deliver a majority verdict (as oppose to a unanimous verdict where all the people have to agree).

The jury eventually acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carries a potential life sentence and first-degree rape of Mann.

What is third degree rape?

According to the New York State Senate website, rape in the third degree - which Weinstein was found guilty of - is when:

  1. He or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than seventeen years old;
  1. Being twenty-one years old or more, he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person less than seventeen years old; or
  1. He or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person without such person's consent where such lack of consent is by reason of some factor other than incapacity to consent.

It is considered a class E felony and carries a sentence up to four years in prison and $5,000 in fines (£3,857).

What are the degrees of rape?

According to the New York penal code, there are three degrees of rape. Third degree is explained above, but second degree rape is defined as the following:

'A person commits second-degree rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is less than 15 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more; or who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated.'

Second degree rape is a class D felony and carries a sentence of 1 to 7 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

First degree rape is defined as such:

'A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person:

'By "forcible compulsion" -- compelling the victim through the use of physical force or the threat of immediate death, physical injury or kidnapping;

'Who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless;

'Who is less than 11 years old; or

'Who is less than 13 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more.'

First degree rape is a class B felony and carries a 5 to 25 year sentence with $5,000 in fines.

What is Harvey Weinstein's sentence?

Facing anywhere between five and 25 years in prison, Weinstein's sentence will not be known until 11 March. After which, he could be sent to California for the Los Angeles trial which, if found guilty, could add up to 28 years to his sentence. However, there has been no confirmation yet on how the Los Angeles trial will move forward.

What was Harvey Weinstein accused of?

Despite more than 90 women coming forward to accuse Weinstein of various crimes including rape, sexual assault and harassment, he is only standing trial for five felony charges against two women - Mimi Haley and Jessica Mann - for the rape of one female acquaintance and forced oral sex on another. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bail.

A third accuser, Annabella Sciorra - known for her role in The Sopranos - also gave testimony, as well as three other women alleging that Weinstein had assaulted them. However, those crimes are too old to prosecute under state law and thus the jury cannot legally convict on their accusations.

What happened during the Weinstein trial?

Six women in total gave testimonies alleging Weinstein had assaulted them.

Despite the fact Sciorra could not be listed as a plaintiff in the case, prosecutors wanted her testimony to be heard by jurors to strengthen their case against Weinstein. It is a tactic also employed during the Bill Cosby trial, often used to establish a pattern of behaviour. For Weinstein to face the predatory sexual assault conviction, jurors would have to believe Weinstein assaulted Sciorra and Haley or Sciorra and Mann - or all three.

According to legal experts, Sciorra had the strongest witness testimony because she cut contact with Weinstein after the alleged assault. Mann and Haley exchanged emails with Weinstein after their instances of alleged abuse and Weinstein's defence lawyers attempted to use this fact to imply they are lying about the assault.

Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, prosecuting, reiterated to the jury that rape can occur within otherwise consensual and committed relationships. However, legal experts told the Los Angeles Times last week that continued communication - plus gaps in testimony about times of the attacks - could sway the jury to acquittal.

'I think the most important part is the emails ..- that’s tough to refute at that moment. They were saying something other than they were saying now,' Dmitriy Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney, told the publication.

To combat that, the prosecution would have to hope that the jury was swayed by the testimony of forensic psychologist Barbara Ziv, who spoke of rape myths such as victims always fighting back against their rapists. Essentially, she highlighted that the behaviour of a victim of rape after the fact does not necessarily prove or disprove the fact they were raped as there is no one way to respond to the trauma of being raped.

Another expert - Wendy Murphy, a professor of sexual violence law - added that Mann's consensual sexual interactions after the alleged attack could sway jurors to acquittal. Plus that overall, jurors will 'have a tough time valuing what happened to that woman’s body as a serious enough crime to warrant a criminal conviction' because of a 'historic disrespect for women in this country, and rape victims in particular.'

The trial was much shorter than expected and jury deliberations took five days. They were asked to ignore negative press from the #MeToo movement - essentially, the accusations of 90 women - with Weinstein's lawyer Donna Rotunno saying 'you may have had a gut feeling that Harvey Weinstein was guilty. Throw that gut feeling right out the window.'

Because of all of this, there were expert warnings last week that the producer may not be found guilty of any charges. Now, he faces charges of rape and sexual assault of two women in Los Angeles.

Read More: The men who have been accused of sexual harassment since #MeToo:


Debrief Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment1 of 14

Harvey Weinstein

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment2 of 14

Ed Westwick

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment3 of 14

Kevin Spacey

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment4 of 14

John Lasseter

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment5 of 14

Roy Price

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment6 of 14

Nick Carter

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment7 of 14

Michael Fallon

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment8 of 14

Terry Richardson

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment9 of 14

Steven Seagal

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment10 of 14

Matthew Weiner

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment11 of 14

Dustin Hoffman

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment12 of 14

Jeremy Piven

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment13 of 14

Louis C.K

Men Accused Of Sexual Harassment14 of 14

Ben Affleck

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