By Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak | Associated press
NEW YORK - Jurors in the Harvey Weinstein rape trial said Friday they were deadlocked on the most serious charges, but the judge told them to keep trying.
In a note to the judge during their lunch break, the jurors asked whether it was permissible to suspend them on two counts of predatory sexual assault while obtaining a unanimous verdict on other counts.
After consulting with Weinstein's attorneys and lawyers, Justice James Burke told the jury of seven men and five women to continue working on a unanimous verdict on all the charges and dismissed them to continue deliberating.
Weinstein's lawyers said they would accept a partial verdict, but prosecutors said no, and Burke refused to allow it.
During her fourth day of deliberations, the jury focused on the key aspect of two counts of predatory sexual assault: allegations by soprano actress Annabella Sciorra that Weinstein raped and forced sex oral on her in the mid-1990s. These charges carry a maximum life sentence.
In total, 67-year-old Weinstein is charged with five counts resulting from the allegations of Sciorra and two other women - a budding actress who said she raped her in March 2013 and a former film and production assistant TV shows Mimi Haleyi, who says he forced her, fellatio in March 2006.
To convict Weinstein of a predatory sexual assault charge, jurors must agree on two things: that Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted Sciorra and that he committed one of the other offenses. The charge of predatory sexual assault obliges prosecutors to prove that an accused has already committed rape or another sexual crime, but he does not have the limitation constraints that would prevent Sciorra's allegations from being considered on their own.
Weinstein maintained that all sex was consensual.
It is the policy of the Associated Press not to publish the names of people who allege sexual assault without their consent. He refuses to reveal the name of the 2013 rape accuser, as it is unclear whether she wishes to be identified publicly.
The jurors began the day on Friday by listening to a reading of Sciorra's cross-examination and follow-up interrogations by prosecutors. After approximately 90 minutes of reading, the jurors informed the judge that they had "heard enough" and resumed their deliberations.
Sciorra testified almost a month ago. She was the first accuser to do so in the closely watched #MeToo trial.
The jury has already focused on the emails Weinstein sent about Sciorra, including those to the private Israeli spy agency he allegedly recruited to unearth potential accusers while journalists were working on allegation stories against him in 2017.
Sciorra, now 59, told jurors how the once powerful movie mogul unexpectedly showed up at the door of his Manhattan apartment before breaking in and raping and practicing oral sex on it in late 1993 or early 1994.
In cross-examination, Sciorra was burned to death for the reasons she opened her door in the first place and found no way to escape if attacked.
Weinstein's lawyer, Donna Rotunno, asked, "Why didn't you try to flee the apartment?" Did you scratch it? Try to push him in the eye? "
Prosecutors said Sciorra weighed only about 110 pounds (50 kilograms) at the time, which did not make it comparable to the 300-pound Weinstein (135 kilograms).
"He was too tall" to fight, she said to the jury. "It was scary. "
Sciorra released an article in The New Yorker in October 2017 after one of the few people she reportedly told about the incident, actress Rosie Perez, informed journalist Ronan Farrow that he should l 'call.
Sciorra was not involved in the criminal case until later. His allegations were not part of the original indictment when Weinstein was arrested in May 2018, but after a few legal tweaks, they were included in an update last August.
Weinstein's lawyers fought to get her out of the case during the pre-trial period, arguing in vain that prosecutors should not be allowed to use her allegations because they predated the laying of the charge predatory sexual assault in 2006.
Weinstein's lawyers also argued that it was completely unfair to force the producer to defend himself against something that would have happened more than a quarter of a century ago. They argue that prosecutors put Sciorra on the case to get a brand name on the witness stand.
"Annabella was brought into this case for one reason and only one reason," said Rotunno in his closing speech last week. "She was brought in so that there was a witness who had some star power, a witness you could recognize and a witness whose name could mean something."
This article appeared first (in English) on mercurynews.com