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Weinstein Guilty Of Criminal Sex Act And 3rd-Degree Rape; Weinstein In Custody After Guilty Verdict On 2 Counts; Weinstein Sentencing Set For March 11. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00]

CYRUS VANCE JR., MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: -- myths that I think the jury verdict busted today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: D.A. Vance, what's your message to women about coming forward [INAUDIBLE], why did it take the women so long to come forward? What's your message to women who may be in fact whether today or last year? What's your message to them?

VANCE: Well, first of all, I would say that -- Dean, would this -- it was Dean, right? With this verdict, I hope that survivors will see that in this justice system, prosecutors, judges and juries will believe them, even when the facts are not simple and even when the dynamics of the relationships between the survivors and the abuser are complicated. So I think, Dean, the message is this is a big day, this is a new day, and I hope women will understand the significance of the jury verdicts today.

In terms of the time it takes to report a sexual assault, Dean, you know, we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of a victim of sexual assault to understand what is going through his or her mind. You heard on the witness stand the reasons why a number of these women survivors did not come forward. They were deathly afraid of Harvey Weinstein, for one thing, and that he would ruin their career.

So there's all sorts of dynamics that make survivors of sexual assault not comfortable to come forward. However, those stories are now part of what we all now understand better after this trial that survivors have to go through.

So, Dean, I think -- my hope is with this verdict, survivors of sexual assault, whether it's a Mr. Weinstein or whether it's someone else will come forward and our office and others like our office will, I hope, be there to listen to them and to help them move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, guys.

VANCE: Thank you so much, everybody. Have a good day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Cyrus Vance Jr. there, the New York County or the Manhattan District Attorney saying he is satisfied and praising the jury, praising the witnesses against Harvey Weinstein convicted of two counts, acquitted of three counts in a felony sexual assault trial.

Let's get back to our legal analysts Paul Callan and Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer I want to start with you. The district attorney on the one hand he lost three two out of five. On the other hand, Harvey Weinstein is in handcuffs on his way to prison awaiting sentencing for two very serious counts of sexual assault. Cyrus Vance Jr. called it a new landscape and a new day. Is that true or is this just a big high- profiled conviction?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think no matter how you characterize it, Cy Vance is breathing a huge sigh of relief today. You know, he's taken a lot of heat over the last couple of years for what has happened with the Harvey Weinstein case and not charging him a while back. So these charges and the conviction on these charges are a real vindication for him.

And you know, I think what he was saying is it's just a very challenging case when you talk about the relationship between Harvey Weinstein and his victims, even going, in many cases, to after the incidents themselves. So that makes it a tough case for a prosecutor and really impressive for Cy Vance's team to have pulled it out, which I think is why he's so pleased today.

KING: And Paul, he called Mr. Weinstein a vicious serial sexual predator, celebrating the fact he is now behind bars. He also talked a bit about the cross examination, saying that he hopes defense attorneys will now learn a lesson, that we are in this new age, as he put it, where you shouldn't attack the victims, you shouldn't attack the survivors. I hate to ask the question this way, but is that wishful thinking?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I think Cyrus Vance makes a very legitimate point. The Manhattan D.A.'s office did a highly professional job in this case. By the way, the trial Attorney Joan Illuzzi, highly talented, she was up against a formidable defense team that really, you know, did some very, very probing cross examination of the victims in this case. But nonetheless, the jury believed that one of them had been forcibly subjected to oral sex and be the other had been raped.

Now, that's a huge victory on this fact pattern. And I think as Cyrus Vance said, it sends a message to a lot of women who, in the past, have said, who would believe me if I tried to testify against somebody with his money and his power. And that's one of the reasons that women don't come forward in these kinds of cases.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has now demonstrated that properly prepared, a case like this can be explained to a jury in such a way that the jury fully understands where the force came in and where the improper criminal conduct occurred even by someone as famous and as rich as Harvey Weinstein.

KING: Paul Callan and Jennifer Rodgers, appreciate the insight. Stand by if you can. Again, Harvey Weinstein convicted of two of five sexual assault counts.

[12:35:03]

He has been handcuffed, remanded into custody, awaiting sentencing a minimum of five years in prison, a minimum of five years in prison for Harvey Weinstein, we just heard from the prosecution. We're waiting to hear from the defense team them. Stay with us.

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KING: Returning now to the hours breaking news, the former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein convicted of two out of five felony sexual account charges in a New York courtroom. Sentencing has now been set for March 11th.

We heard from the prosecutor just moments ago saying Weinstein should face a minimum of five and maximum of 25 years when that sentencing takes place. Weinstein now in custody in New York. Again, the sentencing is on March 11th.

[12:40:03]

We heard from the prosecutor, we're waiting to hear from the defense team. We're also getting reaction from some of the groups who stood up to Harvey Weinstein, who pushed for the charges against him and who helped the survivors come forward and testify.

CNN's Chloe Melas joining us now live from Los Angeles. And Chloe, as you gather reporting on this, among the groups you've spoke to, the Time's Up organization.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Right. So just moments ago we've heard from Time's Up President Tina Tchen and this is what she says. This trial and the jury's decision today marks a new era of justice, not just for the silence breakers who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse and assault at work.

You know, I also told you, John, that we heard from some of those silence breakers just moments ago, and there is a sense of relief for so many of these people who were worried on Friday. You know, we heard from Time's Up that they were "nervous" that he would be found not guilty.

And remember, I told you, I spoke to Harvey Weinstein. I interviewed him just days before this criminal trial began and he truly always has maintained his innocence and believed that he would be found not guilty and make movies again. Clearly, that does not seem to be the case any time soon. And we do know he has been remanded into custody without the walker that we have seen him walking in the courtroom with day after day.

I can tell you also just from being in there hearing Jessica Mann's testimony, so incredibly emotional, and so many of those silence breakers are taking to social media and tweeting, John, and releasing their own statements. And there will be a conference call later today for the press with people like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan who are going to be speaking out. We're going to hear more about that over the coming days.

KING: Very important to listen to that as it plays out. Chloe Melas, appreciate the breaking news reporting for us in Los Angeles.

Let's bring our Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter back into the conversation. Brian, as Chloe noted and we talked a bit about this earlier, these women stepped forward. They had the back up of these organizations stepping forward. They created this public outcry, now they have a criminal conviction.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And it's hard to even think back to pre -- to the moment before the Harvey Weinstein stories were published in 2017, before Me Too was a household name. But it was a very different world. Culturally, it was a very different climate for women to step forward and speak about these experiences, to tell about what Weinstein was doing behind closed doors.

It took months of work by reporters in "The New York Times" and "The New Yorker" to encourage these women to give them the confidence that they would be protected and safe and supported and believed. That's the most important word in this conversation is believed. There is strength in truth and there is strength in numbers. And why Ronan Farrow and Jodi Kantor are making, they were able to get so many women to speak, it's because there was one and then another and then another.

You think about this like dominoes, John. First, Gretchen Carlson sues Roger Ailes and takes down the head of Fox News in 2016. That leads reporters looking to Bill O'Reilly. And that for Bill O'Reilly gets removed from his job in 2017. That's why "The New York Times" started looking to Harvey Weinstein.

So step by step, inch by inch, we are seeing progress with these men who were thought to be untouchable, thought to be too powerful. They were able to keep secrets for a very long time, but not forever.

And the six women who testified in court, I think it's -- we're talking about what they did and the courage it took to do that in court, Annabella Sciorra, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young are the six women that talk the stand and spoke at the trial. All six speaking about his behavior. All six showing that they are not just victims, they're not victims, they are survivors. And they are able to, in this moment, believed that justice has been done.

KING: One of those untouchables, to back up your point, now in handcuffs, will spent the night in prison in New York. Brian Stelter, appreciate it. Stay with us as well.

Let's go back outside the courthouse to CNN's Jean Casarez who has been doing a great reporting on this story from the get-go and including covering this trial. Jean, we heard from the prosecutor, we're waiting to hear from the defense. The bottom line, Harvey Weinstein convicted in two of five counts and now behind bars. JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's true, but the defense can say that they saved him from those life felonies, because those were the counts that were the most serious of all. You know, as I watched the entire trial and I watched every single direct examination and cross examination, the defense was very good. They were very, very strong.

They did not, in the opinion of those in the courtroom that I spoke with, did not victim shame the accusers. The cross examinations were very intellectual. They were strong at points. They pulled back and were softer at other points, but a distinct difference with some of the other cases that I have covered. You know, I was the correspondent for Bill Cosby, and I saw a distinct difference from this cross examination to accusers than in the Bill Cosby case.

Another distinction I'm seeing, when I did the Bill Cosby case and covered it for CNN, there were accusers in the courtroom every day. They were en masse. They had come from around the country to be in that courtroom to watch the criminal trial of Bill Cosby, not so in this criminal trial.

[12:45:13]

In the courtroom, it was really made up with media from all over the world. I mean, I sat next to people from England, from Japan, from other areas all over the world and then there was the public gallery which allowed for two to three rows of the public, and they were just people that wanted to see this trial, because this is -- I always think about legal history, and this is a historic trial when it comes to legal history in the future of this country.

KING: Jean Casarez, a very important point there about the history. And it's a new day, as the prosecutor called it. Jean is outside the courthouse. She will stay there.

We're going to take a quick break. We're waiting to hear, as I said, we just heard from the prosecutor who calls this a new day when it comes to criminal sexual assault and the treatment of survivors with sexual assault. We're waiting to hear from the defense team. Stay with us.

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[12:50:40]

KING: The dramatic breaking legal news today, the one-time Hollywood icon Harvey Weinstein now behind bars in New York, convicted on two of five criminal sexual assault charges. His sentencing will be on March 11th, the prosecutor, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance calls this a new day. We are waiting to hear from the Weinstein defense team which says it will quickly appeal.

Let's bring back our CNN Legal Analysts Paul Callan and Jennifer Rodgers. To that point, Paul, sentencing on March 11th, we know an appeal will be filed. Take us through how the process works.

CALLAN: Well, a notice of appeal will be filed immediately by the defense team and they're going to raise, I think, probably two areas where they're going to say he didn't get a fair trial and that the conviction should be reversed.

The first is that there was juror who was allowed to sit on the case over the objection of the defense who allegedly was writing a book and was involved in book reviews involving cases of older men and younger women and consent issues. Now, they're going -- the defense is going to say she was inappropriate for the jury and resulted in an unfair verdict.

The second thing that happened in this trial that's different from most other trials is you heard a total of four other women in addition to Mann and Haley about sexual conduct, improper sexual conduct by Weinstein that called Molineux witnesses. And that's unusual.

Usually, you can't get those prior bad acts into evidence unless the defendant takes the stand. So the defense is going to say this was unfair, it prejudiced the jury against Weinstein, and he should get a new trial. Those are the arguments that will be presented on appeal. We'll have to see how an appellate court reacts.

KING: And Jennifer as we wait for that to play out, the sentencing on March 11th, the appeals process in New York, Harvey Weinstein remanded, meaning in custody until then. We don't have a timetable yet, but there is a pending case in Los Angeles as well.

L.A. prosecutors charging Weinstein last month with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another woman, this separate incidence over two-day period back in 2013. So, 67 years old, facing criminal jeopardy in New York now behind bars, this pending trial in Los Angeles, are there lessons? If you're the prosecutor in Los Angeles, as Paul just laid out some of the complications of this trial in New York, are there lessons to be learned that you apply to the next case?

RODGERS: Well, I don't really see any major lessons. I mean, they did a pretty good job. They had their witnesses. They testified compellingly. You know, in the end the jury didn't find him guilty of the most serious charges, but these are very tough facts. I mean, it's going to be more fact-specific, I would say, not so much kind of legal maneuvering by the prosecutors.

But whether the evidence that the women give in Los Angeles rings true to the jurors out there, you know, these are very serious allegations. And when you just look at the pattern of behavior, you know, it really strikes you that Harvey Weinstein had an MO that he employed in these cases, and it plays out again in L.A.

So if they are prepared properly for their testimony, and if they are compelling in their testimony then, you know, that's a very serious problem for Harvey Weinstein as he looks ahead to that case as well.

KING: And the testimony was overwhelming, Paul, and it was damning and it was disgusting, frankly, and a hundred plus women, they didn't all testify in the trial, but a hundred plus women have come forward to make allegations against Harvey Weinstein. If you are the judge in this case and you have "first time offender" before you who's the penalties could range from 5 years to up to 25 years, 67 years old, what is your sense of what happens next that is sentencing?

CALLAN: Well, this is going to be a very serious sentence handed down here. I don't even think it's going to be 5 years, I think it's probably going to be more than 10 years that he'll be facing because of the horrific nature of the acts that he engaged in and has been convicted of.

And I would also mention, John, that the judge will also be aware that he's facing these serious criminal charges in California, which I understand will face -- he'll face another possible 28 years in prison. And by the way, all of these cases can be run consecutively. So there's clearly a scenario here where Harvey Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison based upon not only the New York case but the California case.

KING: And, Jennifer, step back in a sense when Cyrus Vance says it is a new day, what does that mean looking forward if there is a survivor out there watching now who wants to speak up, what does that mean?

[12:55:07]

RODGERS: Yes. I think it means that they should speak up, that they don't need to be as afraid as they may have been in the past that they won't be believed or that they can't kind of, you know, tell their truth and take on powerful men. So it's really good news for these survivors everywhere, and I hope they'll continue to speak up as they did in this case.

KING: Jennifer and Paul, I appreciate your help through the breaking news this hour. Thanks for joining us throughout the breaking news.

Don't go anywhere, we're still waiting to hear from the defense team as well. Brianna Keilar continues our breaking news coverage after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.

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