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As Weinstein Trial Starts, Big New Charges

He is charged with rape in California as New York case is getting underway
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2020 8:57 AM CST
Updated Jan 6, 2020 1:10 PM CST
Weinstein's Trial Starts, and It's Already Complicated
This Dec. 6, 2019, file photo shows Harvey Weinstein, center, leaving court following a bail hearing in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(Newser) – The #MeToo movement was born of sexual misconduct and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein from dozens of women—and on Monday, the disgraced film producer's criminal trial began in Manhattan. If convicted, Weinstein faces a long prison sentence. If acquitted, however, his legal trouble may not be over: The Los Angeles Times reports that new criminal charges have been filed against him in Los Angeles County. In New York, meanwhile, jury selection is expected to start Tuesday. Coverage:

  • New York trial: The trial of the 67-year-old, who faces charges of rape and predatory sexual assault primarily involving two women, won't be an open-and-shut one, reports the New York Times, which notes "jurors will be hearing a narrow legal case, with an already fraught backstory and a highly unpredictable result." Weinstein says his sexual encounters were consensual, and both the prosecution and defense have had issues, including the loss of a third accuser for the former, and Weinstein's revolving roster of lawyers for the latter.
  • California charges: Weinstein is charged with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting another woman the following night in a hotel suite, reports the AP. He is charged with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint. He faces 28 years if convicted. No arraignment has been scheduled. "We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” says county district attorney Jackie Lacey.

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  • Motion denied: On Monday, the New York judge rejected a request from Weinstein's attorneys to call as a witness a detective who has been accused of mishandling the case, reports the Daily News. The judge also rejected the idea of sequestering jurors for the duration of the trial and of barring Weinstein's lawyers from speaking to the media.
  • The scene: Weinstein appeared at the Manhattan courthouse using a walker following recent back surgery. "Not so good," he responded when asked how his back felt, per the AP. Across the street, some of his accusers gathered. "He looked cowardly," said Sarah Ann Masse, who says Weinstein once sexually harassed her during a job interview. "He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t make eye contact."
  • Jury challenge: "The issue is not necessarily finding the ... the one person who has never heard of the Weinstein case," an ex-federal judge tells NPR. "The odds of finding such a person are slim to none." Instead, she notes, both sides will try to weed out those with prejudices on the #MeToo movement or Weinstein during jury selection, set to stretch about two weeks. The trial overall is expected to last eight weeks or so.
  • Consequences: If Weinstein is convicted of predatory sexual assault in the New York case, he could see a maximum sentence of life in prison. CNN offers more on the trial, including on expected witnesses, the defense strategy, and the "wider impact." "This trial is critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable and that speaking up can bring about real change," a statement from 25 of his accusers notes.
(Read more Harvey Weinstein stories.)

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