Mimi Haley on Weinstein verdict: 'It was a huge relief that the jury got it'

"I felt just very grateful that I'd been heard and believed," the former "Project Runway" production assistant, a key witness in the Hollywood mogul's rape trial, told CBS News.

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By Elizabeth Chuck

Mimi Haley, one of the two women whose assault accusations were at the heart of Harvey Weinstein's rape trial in New York, said she was "grateful and happy" that the Hollywood mogul was convicted on two counts.

"It was a huge relief that the jury got it. I felt just very grateful that I'd been heard and believed," Haley told CBS News on Tuesday, a day after a jury found Weinstein guilty of one count of first-degree criminal sexual act against her and one count of third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann, who says Weinstein raped her in 2013. The jury acquitted the powerful producer of the most serious criminal charges he faced — two counts of predatory sexual assault — and a count of first-degree rape of Mann.

Haley, a former "Project Runway" production assistant, had taken the stand during Weinstein's trial, emotionally detailing her allegation that Weinstein pinned her down on his bed and forced oral sex on her in his New York apartment in 2006.

She told jurors that it occurred to her, "I’m being raped." Unsure what to do, she weighed her options.

"If I scream 'rape,' will someone hear me?" she said she wondered. "I checked out and decided to endure it."

Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex and pleaded not guilty in his trial. In addition to testimony from Haley and Mann, the jury also heard from actress Annabella Sciorra, who accused Weinstein of raping her in the 1990s — an allegation that fell outside the statute of limitations, but that prosecutors presented to bolster their case that Weinstein was a serial sexual predator.

Sitting next to her attorney, Gloria Allred, Haley told CBS News on Tuesday morning that she wasn't sure which way the jury would rule.

"The statistics say that most rapists go, walk. So I didn't know which way it would go," Haley said. "But I'm just very relieved and grateful and happy, that it feels like we're making progress."

"We're being educated about the reality of sexual assaults and sexual assault victims," she added. "It's not always just a stranger. It is very often somebody that the person knows."

Allred commended Haley for her courage in speaking out.

"This is the reckoning," she said. "This is the way we start to begin to stop violence against women, when those who are going to hurt them know that there could be serious consequences. And even if you're rich, even if you're powerful, even if you're famous, like Harvey Weinstein, you are also subject to the law, and you don't have a special license to hurt women."

Haley said later Tuesday that she felt the Weinstein verdict had propelled society into "new times."

"I feel like it's really a new day. It gives me a lot of hope that we're making progress," Haley told MSNBC's Chris Jansing. "There's been something set in motion that is just unstoppable now. It's irreversible. We cannot go back."

Weinstein, whose lawyers said Monday that they will appeal the conviction, faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. He is also scheduled to face a separate trial in Los Angeles, where he is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents in 2013. He has not yet entered a plea in that case, but has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sexual activity.

Monday's verdict was heralded by many of his dozens of other accusers and celebrated by #MeToo activists.

Monica Lewinsky, who was a White House intern when she had an affair with President Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment, called the Weinstein verdict a "win."

"found myself emotional + so grateful for this... not just for the women who were grossly abused by harvey f. weinstein but for all women who’ve been marginalized + abandoned by the justice system at times, sectors of society + some media outlets/journos," she tweeted Tuesday. "this is a win for #MeToo."

At a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles, a group of Weinstein's accusers known as the Silence Breakers thanked the New York jury and said Weinstein's conviction was symbolic — not only for them, but for girls and women everywhere.

"Harvey banked on our fear, he bet on our silence. And he collected for many, many years," actress Katherine Kendall said. "But today, he lost the bet, and we're the ones winning."

"If somebody as powerful, with the unlimited resources that Harvey Weinstein has, can be brought to justice, anybody can," actress Jessica Barth said. "So I really encourage victims to come forward and put the shame and blame on their perpetrator and take it off themselves."

Emma Thorne contributed.