Newsletter: Weinstein goes to prison


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Feb. 25, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

How the dominoes have toppled.

On Monday, 872 days after Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s first story detailing sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein ran in the New York Times, the film producer was found guilty of rape and a felony sex crime in a New York courtroom. The onetime mogul was convicted of two of five counts in the high-profile case.

[Read the story: “Handcuffed and humbled, Harvey Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison after rape conviction” in the Los Angeles Times]

And in the intervening two-and-some years since that first Weinstein story ran? The world has watched as a single man’s downfall unleashed a large-scale reckoning.

That reckoning — which centered on sexual violence, but came to include questions about what kind of behavior is and is not acceptable, more broadly speaking — reverberated through nearly every aspect of culture. Countless women added their voices to the #MeToo movement, and abuse allegations against scores of powerful individuals surfaced across industries, with varied reactions and consequences.

[See also: “Five things that have changed in Hollywood since the Weinstein case broke” in the Los Angeles Times]


But it wouldn’t be fair to say that the social mores around gender in this country have been entirely rewritten. Shortly after the verdict, defense attorney Donna Rotunno praised her client’s “strong” demeanor in the face of consequences, saying, “He took it like a man.” (The “it” in question here being a rape and felony sex crime conviction.)

Those two counts were connected to individual allegations made by Mimi Haley, a former Weinstein Co. production assistant, and Jessica Mann, a once-aspiring actress. Weinstein was acquitted of the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which each carried a potential life sentence. The jury deliberated for five days after a six-week trial that included harrowing testimony from Weinstein’s accusers.

What comes next?

Weinstein, 69, now faces five to 25 years in New York state prison. But pending an appeal and sentencing, the book has more or less closed on the New York chapter of his criminal prosecution. His Los Angeles legal saga, however, is just beginning.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey filed charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of restraint and sexual battery by restraint against Weinstein last month. The charges came down on the eve of his New York trial, meaning Weinstein has yet to see the inside of a downtown L.A. courtroom.

[Read the story: “Harvey Weinstein verdict: The case now moves to Los Angeles” in the Los Angeles Times]


The L.A. charges stem from accusations brought by two women who say the movie mogul attacked them in hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in 2013. A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office told my colleague James Queally that Weinstein’s March 11 New York sentencing will take place before any proceedings initiate in California. Legal analysts say that Monday’s verdict will probably help Los Angeles County prosecutors secure a conviction against Weinstein in his California case.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Thousands gathered to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna at a public memorial Monday morning. The Staples Center event featured speeches by Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and others, as well as performances by Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. Los Angeles Times

Beyoncé performs at Kobe Bryant's memorial at Staples Center
Beyoncé performs at Kobe Bryant’s memorial at Staples Center.
(Arash Markazi / Los Angeles Times)

More coverage:

  • Emotional remembrances: Read all the speeches here. Los Angeles Times
  • A memorial viewing in Santa Ana brings people from as far as Alabama. Los Angeles Times
  • As mourners gathered at Staples Center, attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed last month. Los Angeles Times

Fallen opera star Plácido Domingo released a statement to The Times late Monday night apologizing for the behavior that led to a series of sexual harassment allegations last summer and culminated in his resignation as general manager of Los Angeles Opera in October. The statement came as the Associated Press reported the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents opera performers, was preparing to release findings of an ongoing investigation. Los Angeles Times

Stocks tumbled as the coronavirus spreads, sparking worry of a global economic slowdown. The Dow Jones industrials plunged more than 1,000 points in a stock market rout Monday, its worst day in two years, amid concerns that the spreading coronavirus is seriously disrupting the global economy. Los Angeles Times


This podcast documents homelessness from a rare point of view that of someone actually experiencing it. Theo Henderson, who records “We the Unhoused” on his cellphone every week, calls a park in Chinatown home. Los Angeles Times

An illustrated guide to Los Angeles trees and flowers: From palm trees to sweet jasmine, get to know some of the local flora in this guide. Curbed LA

A Spanish-language newsstand braces for the end. The newsstand has been at an intersection in Boyle Heights since the late 1940s. Los Angeles Times

Five new standout hotels in Los Angeles, according to an East Coast paper that can’t resist mentioning both “boulevards of broken dreams” and “box office smashes” in their opening paragraph. New York Times

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The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will share records of people who were criminally arrested with immigration authorities, becoming the first local law enforcement agency in five states to comply with unusual demands for information. (ICE has issued administrative subpoenas — signed by an immigration official, not a judge — to state and local law enforcement agencies in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and California in recent weeks). Los Angeles Times


Rep. Devin Nunes’ district remains the GOP’s ruby heart as blue California votes: The San Joaquin Valley is still an upbeat bastion for Trump, even as Democrats dominate the state government and make preparations for the March 3 primary election. Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles lawmaker wants California to allow for human composting, an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation in which the dead are turned into soil. Los Angeles Times


Oakland’s former police chief says she’s weighing her legal options. Anne Kirkpatrick fired back at her critics in her first interview since the Oakland Police Commission voted Thursday to dismiss her without cause. San Francisco Chronicle

A judge ordered Sacramento’s sheriff to “unban” two black activists from his Facebook page. The ban had prevented them from posting comments on his official Facebook page. Sacramento Bee


How a Central Coast town is responding to rising seas: As coastal cities in California fight to defend their homes and roads from sea level rise, the small city of Marina is taking a different path, banning seawalls and adopting a policy known as managed retreat. Los Angeles Times

[For more context on California’s grim choices in the face of sea level rise, see Rosanna Xia’s 2019 story on the topic.]

Citing earthquake risks, federal officials ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained beginning in October. The dramatic decision could significantly affect Silicon Valley’s water supply. Mercury News

Beach weather in February? Warm temperatures are on tap for Southern California this week. Los Angeles Times


“Death Valley Jim” was touted as the Mojave Desert’s savior. Authorities said it was all a ruse. Los Angeles Times

A love letter to Bakersfield: A native daughter reflects on what makes the city so special to her. Bakersfield Californian

Fifteen Northern California wine, whiskey and beer festivals coming up over the next few months. Mercury News

Tomatomania has begun. A list of the 11 events between Santa Barbara and San Diego counties, advice for planting your own tomatoes and the big reveal for Tomatomania’s 2020 pick for Tomato of the Year. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: sunny, 81. San Diego: sunny, 76. San Francisco: sunny, 67. San Jose: sunny, 74. Fresno: sunny, 72. Sacramento: sunny, 76. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Robin Pierce:

In June 1972, my dad was transferred to Edwards AFB. I was 16. We moved from a small town in Southern Illinois to Lancaster. We were amazed at the different types of restaurants. Back in Illinois, there was only a seasonal root beer stand and a local fried chicken takeout place. One day, my dad drove through the drive-through of a Mexican food chain restaurant. We ordered one of everything from the menu, took it home and shared each item. That meal was a game changer and pure heaven! I have lived in L.A. proper since 1980. I embrace all of the cultural diversity and I can’t imagine living anywhere else!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.