Disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein, already convicted in New York, will face a new rape and sexual assault trial starting Monday in Los Angeles, five years after the revelations of his predatory behavior and the start of the #MeToo movement.
The 70-year-old Pulp Fiction producer has been serving a 23-year prison sentence since 2020 for sexual harassment and rape in New York City.
In this new trial in Los Angeles, the city where he once reigned supreme over Hollywood, he is accused of raping or sexually assaulting five women in hotels between 2004 and 2013.
The hearing, which is expected to last two months, will begin on Monday with jury selection. In July 2021, Mr. Weinstein pleaded not guilty during a preliminary hearing in a Los Angeles court where he showed up in a wheelchair wearing a brown inmate jumpsuit.
If convicted, the former Hollywood mogul faces up to 140 years in prison, in addition to a New York conviction whose appeal was rejected. In the UK, he was also charged with sexual harassment committed in 1996.
Extensive accusations of Mr. Weinstein’s predatory behavior erupted in 2017, and his March 2020 conviction in New York City, followed by immediate jail time, was a major victory for the #MeToo movement.
In total, about 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette, have accused Harvey Weinstein of harassment, sexual harassment or rape. But in many of these cases the statute of limitations has been exceeded, some of which date back to 1977.
The former producer always assured that all his accusers agreed.
The allegations are “unproven, unreliable and unsubstantiated,” his lawyer Mark Werksman told the press in July 2021, arguing that there was no forensic evidence or credible witnesses to back them up.
– A film about his influence –
During the New York trial, the prosecution asked the jury to take the word of the victims without presenting forensic evidence or calling a witness to the bar.
In California, Harvey Weinstein is accused of raping an Italian model in a Beverly Hills hotel in February 2013, and then of raping Lauren Young, an up-and-coming actress, in the bathroom of another hotel.
The latter, the only non-anonymous accuser in this case, has already testified at a trial in New York.
A new trial in Los Angeles is essential for the victims, a lawyer for some of them insisted last year, stressing that they “have not had access to justice until now.”
Since the fall of Mr. Weinstein, the release of word sparked by the #MeToo movement has exposed an impressive number of allegations, leading to multiple lawsuits.
Actor Kevin Spacey, for example, is currently on trial in New York City in a civil lawsuit brought by American actor Anthony Rapp, who accuses him of “sexual assault” when he was 14 in 1986.
Weinstein’s retrial also coincides with the premiere of She Said, which premieres next week at the New York Film Festival.
Before the fall, his influence on Hollywood was enormous. In the late 1970s, he co-founded Miramax with his brother, sold to Disney in 1993 and then to The Weinstein Company, thanks to big hits like Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.
Over the years, Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.