Harvey Weinstein, a disgraced movie mogul who is already serving more than 20 years in prison for rape in New York, is being tried in Los Angeles on new sex crime charges in a trial that could last several weeks.
The huge case against the once-powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein started picking jurors on Monday. The new trial is also likely to shine a light on the #MeToo movement, which brought attention to sexual assault in the movie industry and in many other places of work and education.
In an 11-count indictment, prosecutors in Los Angeles County laid out the charges against Weinstein. They say he sexually assaulted five women in separate incidents from 2004 to 2013. The trial will cover four counts of rape and seven counts of sexual assault. The women will be called Jane Does 1 through 5 during the trial.
Weinstein, who is 70, has said that he is innocent. If he is found guilty, he could spend his whole life in prison in California.
After Weinstein was found guilty of third-degree rape and one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, the New York State Court of Appeals agreed in August that he could appeal his conviction. This cleared the way for oral arguments before the full court next year.
Weinstein would keep serving the rest of his 23-year sentence if his conviction in New York is upheld. If it is overturned, he could go to jail if he is found guilty in Los Angeles.
Weinstein has always said that the accusations against him are false, and he has said through a spokesman that he is “so grateful to my attorneys for working hard and smart on this” and that “their hard work will help me prove my innocence in the end.”
In Los Angeles, Weinstein is being helped by a different group of lawyers than in New York. Mark Werksman, one of his lawyers, hasn’t said if Weinstein will testify or who else he might call as a defense witness.
At a hearing before the trial, Werksman said that all the criticism and bad news about Weinstein is already hurting him.
“This is a one-of-a-kind case,” Werksman told The Associated Press. “Mr. Weinstein’s fame and his place in our culture at the center of the firestorm that is the #MeToo movement is real, and we’re doing everything we can to keep him from having a trial that will get a lot of bad press.”
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