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'Level of suspense in Harvey Weinstein rape trial courtroom unbearable'

On Friday, the jury told the judge they were deadlocked over two of the charges. Credit: AP

Just like one of the brilliant movies he produced, this courtroom drama has me gripped.

Whilst Harvey Weinstein enjoyed what could be his final weekend of freedom, journalists like me, who’ve descended on New York from around the world, have been sending themselves dizzy attempting to predict which way the jury might go.

After four long days waiting for news from the jurors, the level of suspense in the courtroom has become unbearable.

There’s a bizarre doorbell-style system that the jury uses to alert the judge when they have something to say.

Each time that bell lets out its horrible shrill buzz everyone in the courtroom instantly jumps, gasps and glares at their neighbour... could this be it?

Could this be the verdict?

So far the jury has rung that blasted bell 10 times - and 10 times my (and no doubt Harvey Weinstein’s) heart has skipped a beat.

Harvey Weinstein's trial has had a heavy media interest. Credit: AP

To add to the increasingly manic state of many of the reporters, during the last remaining minutes of the jury’s deliberations on Friday afternoon, the courtroom was suddenly sent into a tailspin.

The jury passed a note to the judge revealing they’re currently deadlocked over the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault - which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison - but they have reached unanimous decisions on the other lesser counts of sexual assault and rape.

This sparked fierce debate among the lawyers about how the judge should respond.

In the end, he simply reminded the jury they must reach a unanimous decision on all counts and asked them to keep on trying.

So for the final 20 minutes of that day everyone was on tenterhooks, anxiously watching the clock, counting down the minutes, waiting for a possible verdict.

The courtroom was packed with journalists who suddenly became experts in the mystical art of “tasseography”... or tea leaf reading.

What might this mean?

The jury must be thinking X, Y, Z!

Of course it’s impossible for any of us to really know.

But we’re desperate, because this case means so much to so many.

As Harvey Weinsten’s defence attorney, Donna Rotunno, told the jury in her closing argument: “It’s not an easy task, but it is one of the most important that will ever be asked of you.”

Donna Rotunno is Harvey Weinstein's defence lawyer. Credit: AP

Many, on both sides of this highly emotive case, would agree.

It’s not just Harvey Weinstein’s fate that now lies in the hands of those seven men and five women.

If they find him guilty of predatory sexual assault he could be sent to prison for the rest of his life.

For the women who testified, claiming that they were degraded, abused or raped by Harvey Weinstein, the result will either be a long-awaited moment of validation - or one of painful rejection.

But the verdict in this trial, watched by the world, will also have far wider reaching reverberations.

For all those fired by the MeToo movement this is seen as a culmination of their fight - an opportunity to seek some kind of symbolic justice for centuries of abuse within a patriarchal society.

So the next time I hear that blasted bell blurt out in the courtroom, it could make history.