A moment #MeToo: Harvey Weinstein's trial will open
NY: Harvey weinstein spawned the #MeToo movement. Now, the film's former titan stars in the greatest test of his era: a historic moment in a global account adjustment that has empowered women while illuminating the dynamics of power in the workplace from Hollywood Boulevard to Main Street.
Opening statements and the first witness are expected Wednesday at Weinstein's NY Rape trial in the city, where the possibility of life in prison is presented to the famous Pulp Fiction producer now vilified as a predator by dozens of women.
Weinstein's accusers include some well-known actresses who plan to testify or attend the trial and others who are looking to the NY case for a form of justice because their allegations haven't resulted in criminal charges.
“This trial is so important because the enormity of Harvey weinstein 's international power and fame offers an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the rampant abuse of power that permeates our culture on a global level," actress Jessica Barth said Tuesday.
Not only the result of this trial, but the trial as a whole, is a precedent scenario, said Barth, a star in Ted's films that says Weinstein once invited her to her hotel suite and demanded a naked massage.
Weinstein's trial could take more than a month, Judge James Burke said. Judging by an arduous selection of two-week jurors that featured a panel of seven men and five women, it could be a focus of protests and intense media coverage.
Extra court officials have been lined up in front of the Manhattan courthouse where Weinstein, 67, has been wandering around with a walker that his lawyers say was necessary for a summer car accident and subsequent back surgery.
In a failed last-minute attempt to move the trial, Weinstein's lawyers said that in the courtroom, 15 floors above, the song of a mafia shouting was heard, the rapist is you! At street level.
In addition to the drama, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will appear in the same court on Wednesday for a hearing in a case in which several women accused him of groping. He denied all allegations of irregularities.
Though dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexually harassing or assaulting them over the years, his NY trial involves just a pair of allegations: that he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulted a different woman in 2006.
Backed by the expected testimony of four other accusers, prosecutors will attempt to portray Weinstein as a monster who used his power to ingratiate himself with women, sometimes promising a role in the cinema or other professional advancement, before assaulting or raping them sexually.
One of them, actress Annabella Sciorra will testify that Weinstein was forced to enter her Manhattan apartment and raped her in 1993 or 1994 after she starred in a movie for her film studio.
While Sciorra's accusations are outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges, the judge has said his testimony can be used to prove charges of predatory sexual assault, which carries a maximum life sentence and requires prosecutors to show a pattern of misconduct
Weinstein's lawyers say any meeting was agreed. They plan to go on the offensive, pointing out dozens and dozens and dozens of love emails to Weinstein, say they show that he and some of his accusers were in spoiled relationships. Defense attorney Damon Cheronis said some of the women also boasted of having a sexual relationship with him.
Once trailed by whispers in Hollywood circles, Weinstein was met with an explosion of allegations from dozens of women after The NY Times and The NY er published separate exposes about his behavior in October 2017.
After the opening statements, prosecutors are expected to call a former member of the board of directors of the former Weinstein film studio to testify on how the company handled the charges against him.
One issue that has not been resolved in the trial is the defense objection to a juror who wrote an upcoming novel about young women that includes, according to the book's advertising materials, descriptions of their relationships with older predatory men. If removed and replaced as a member of the jury, that will leave only two remaining alternates for trial.
Once the NY trial is over, Weinstein faces additional rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles. Those charges were filed this month as jury selection in his NY trial was getting underway.