Harvey Weinstein hospitalized with chest pains en route to prison, shouts 'I'm innocent' after rape conviction
The tainted Hollywood producer, 67, was redirected to Bellevue Hospital Center after suffering heart palpitations and high blood pressure on his way to Rikers Island
Harvey Weinstein was rerouted to hospital by ambulance on Monday on the way to Rikers Island prison in New York City, shortly after being found guilty of raping and sexually assaulting two women.
The tainted Hollywood producer, 67, was redirected to Bellevue Hospital Center after suffering heart palpitations and high blood pressure on his way to Rikers Island, his attorney Donna Rotunno said.
Judge James Burke had ordered Weinstein taken to jail immediately. Court officers handcuffed Weinstein and put their arms under his, leading him unsteadily out of the courtroom via a side door without the use of the walker he relied on for much of the trial. He was later taken from the courthouse in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher in his suit, and taken to a locked unit at Bellevue Hospital.
The judge said he would ask that Weinstein, who had been free on bail since his arrest nearly two years ago, be held in the infirmary at the city's Rikers Island jail complex after his lawyers said he needs medical attention following unsuccessful back surgery.
Rotunno said in an appearance on Fox News that Weinstein was initially headed to the jail, but was diverted to Bellevue to be checked out for heart palpitations and high blood pressure. "He's ok,” she added.
The longtime successful Hollywood producer was convicted of committing a criminal sex act in the first degree involving one woman and rape in the third degree involving another.
The 67-year-old Weinstein had a look of resignation on his face as he heard the verdict: guilty on two charges, not guilty on a set of more serious ones. While it was not the across-the-board victory prosecutors and his accusers had hoped for, it could put the stooped and feeble-looking Weinstein behind bars for the rest of his life. The charges carry up to 29 years in prison.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr saluted the women who came forward against the once-feared studio boss, saying they "changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence" and “pulled our justice system into the 21st century.”
"This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America, I believe, and it is a new day. It is a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed," Vance said.
Weinstein's lawyers said they will appeal.
“Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man," defense attorney Donna Rotunno said. "He knows that we will continue to fight for him, and we know that this is not over.” Another of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, quoted Weinstein as telling as his legal team:: “I'm innocent. I'm innocent. I'm innocent. How could this happen in America?”
The jury of seven men and five women took five days to find Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her.
He was acquitted on the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying up to life in prison. Both of those counts hinged on the testimony of “Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein barged into her apartment, raped her and forcibly performed oral sex on her in the mid-1990s.
Sentencing was set for March 11. The sexual assault charge carries up to 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape count is punishable by up to four years. (The jury acquitted Weinstein of first-degree rape, which requires the use of force or the threat of it, and found him guilty of third-degree rape, which involves a lack of consent.)
The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and excuses from Weinstein about how the Hollywood casting couch works. In addition to the three women he was charged with attacking, three more who said they were assaulted by Weinstein testified in an effort by prosecutors to show a pattern of brutish behavior. (With inputs from AP)