Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Tuesday they will not retry disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein on a series of sex-related charges on which jurors were unable to reach a verdict last year.
Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the remaining charges against Weinstein — who was sentenced in February to 16 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a model-actress in a Los Angeles hotel room — after Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson said the prosecution was unable to proceed with the case.
Thompson called it a “difficult decision,” saying that prosecutors had wanted to seek justice for all of the alleged victims.
One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Jacqueline Sparagna, said her client maintains his innocence — as he had during his sentencing last month. She said outside court that he is looking forward to his appeal.
Jurors convicted the 70-year-old defendant in December of charges involving a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 1, but deadlocked on a charge of sexual battery by restraint involving an alleged attack in February 2013 against Jane Doe No. 2 and one count each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving an alleged attack in 2005 on Jane Doe No. 4 — the latter of whom has been publicly identified by her attorney as Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Jane Doe No. 2, who subsequently identified herself as Lauren Young, told the judge Tuesday that she was “very disappointed” with the prosecution’s decision.
“As you know, 10 members of the jury voted to convict the defendant on that charge, and two did not,” Young said. “I really wanted the prosecutor to retry the case, and I asked him to do that because for 10 years I have done everything possible to seek justice for what the defendant did to me. … I believed in our system of justice and I hoped that I would obtain justice if I testified truthfully, which I did. Unfortunately, I have not achieved the justice that I had hoped to obtain.”
In a statement read in court on her behalf, Siebel Newsom wrote that the “physical and emotional trauma from being raped by Harvey Weinstein is deep and lasting, affecting every area of my life to this day.”
The governor’s wife wrote that it “took years of therapy and reflection for me to discover my voice again” and that her body tenses and locks up “every time I am triggered and flooded with memories of being trapped and assaulted.”
“I would like to thank the court for imposing a 16-year sentence on Weinstein, adding on to the 23 years he is already serving in New York. He tried to ruin my life and the lives of so many other women; he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Siebel Newsom added in her statement.
The judge said she understands that the alleged victims are disappointed and noted that she believes Weinstein will be sent back to New York, where he is serving a 23-year prison sentence for his convictions for sexually assaulting two women in that state. Weinstein’s sentence in Los Angeles will be served consecutively to his sentence in the New York case.
During his sentencing hearing last month, Weinstein again maintained his innocence, saying he was the victim of a “set-up.”
“I never knew this woman, and the fact is she doesn’t know me,” he said then. “This is about money.”
Weinstein accused Jane Doe No. 1 of perjuring herself.
“This is a made up story,” he said. “Jane Doe No. 1 is an actress. She can turn the tears on.”
Jane Doe No. 1 also addressed the court before the sentencing, saying “the effects of this rape and still raw and difficult to discuss.”
“His selfish, disgusting actions have greatly impacted my life,” she said. “Before that night I was very happy and confident woman. I valued myself and the relationship I had with God. I was excited about my future. Everything changed after the defendant brutally assaulted me.”
She asked that Weinstein be given the maximum possible prison sentence, saying, “There is no prison sentence long enough to undo the damage.”
Prosecutors opted during the trial not to proceed with four other counts — two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation — involving a woman identified as Jane Doe No. 5 — on which Weinstein had been indicted.
The woman, who has since been identified by her attorney Gloria Allred as Kate Jaggard, wrote in a statement read outside court that she was not able to appear at the trial “due to circumstances that were beyond my control” and said she wanted to “thank with immense gratitude the four other Jane Does who testified” in Weinstein’s trial.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Weinstein used his position as one of Hollywood’s most successful movie producers to gain access to and sexually assault women. Thompson told jurors at the start of the case that Weinstein and his brother, Bob, created Miramax Films, which produced a number of “iconic and award-winning films” including “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Shakespeare In Love,” among others. The movies launched the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino, Thompson said.
Weinstein won an Oscar as a producer of best-picture winner “Shakespeare in Love.”
Weinstein — whom Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez had earlier called a “titan of the film industry” — engaged in “despicable behavior” and made sure that the alleged victims knew he “could destroy them,” the prosecutor said in her closing argument. Martinez told jurors that Weinstein used his power to prey on and silence women. She called him a “predator,” and said none of the women making accusations against Weinstein knew each other.
But defense attorney Alan Jackson told the jury that the entirety of the prosecution’s case could be summed up with five words — “Take my word for it” — and said the alleged victims lied on the stand about what was actually “consensual” or “transactional” sex with the now-disgraced filmmaker.
“Did one person come in here and say, `I said no to Harvey Weinstein and he screwed my career?’ Was there one? … Not one person said that because it’s a fable … It just isn’t true,” Jackson said.
The producer did not testify in his own defense.