Five years after #MeToo, three questions about Harvey Weinstein’s trial opening in Los Angeles

This is the second trial of the former seventh art tycoon. Fallen film producer Harvey Weinstein whose actions with women sparked the #MeToo movement in October 2017, appears since Monday 10 October in a Los Angeles (California) court, to answer the new allegations of sexual assault. The audition will begin with the selection of the jurors.

What are the challenges of this new appointment with justice, which will last two months? Franceinfo answers three questions about the process.

Who are the accusers?

Harvey Weinstein, 70, has been sued by five women, who accuse him of sexual assault and rape in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills hotels during meetings between 2004 and 2013. One of them is an Italian model, who claims of being raped in a Beverly Hills hotel in February 2013. Lauren Young, an aspiring actress, accuses him of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom of another hotel. The latter is the only accuser who is not anonymous in this case. He had previously testified at the New York trial.

As Variety explains, four other women will testify to similar assaults. Enough to allow the prosecution to propose a modus operandi. According to the American magazine, one such witness for the prosecution is Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the Italian model and actress who first reported Weinstein to the New York Police Department in March 2015. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had chosen to do not prosecute Harvey Weinstein for these facts, arousing much criticism. The Los Angeles trial will be his first opportunity to testify publicly.

As in New York, Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty and claims these women were in agreement.

What sanction does it incur?

Harvey Weinstein faces 11 charges of rape and sexual assault. If convicted, the former tycoon faces up to 140 years in prison. The sentence would be in addition to the 23 years of imprisonment pronounced in March 2020 in New York. His lawyers had unsuccessfully asked for the trial to be postponed to Los Angeles, due to the film’s release in November. She said, adaptation of the journalists’ book New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who revealed the whole affair five years ago. According to the defense, media coverage on this work could “to hurt” to the accused.

Harvey Weinstein was transferred in July 2021 from Wende Jail in upstate New York at the Twin Towers Jail in Los Angeles County. At this summer’s impeachment hearing, the Hollywood supreme ruler appeared in a wheelchair, looking scruffy, wearing a brown jumpsuit and a mask under his nose. In September he asked the judge to allow him to see a private dentist to prevent his bad teeth from being pulled by prison doctors and to be presentable at trial. “I suffer every day. I have cavities and I can’t eat because my teeth are missing”said the former film producer, according to the New York post.

What other procedures are underway?

Harvey Weinstein’s appeal to the New York trial was finally declared admissible in late August by the state’s highest court, after an initial rejection by a lower appellate court. “There are issues of law at stake that must be examined by the court of appeal”, established the justice of New York. The former tycoon’s lawyers argued that the New York trial jurors were overwhelmed by “bad evidence” and that a juror about whom he had written a book “predatory men” it should have been discarded. “If this first test were canceled, it would not be a good sign “he fears with franceinfo one of his accusers, the actress Caitlin Dulany, recalling that the conviction of actor Bill Cosby for sexual assault was canceled in July 2021 for procedural defects.

Other lawsuits also target Harvey Weinstein abroad. He is accused in the UK for two sexual assaults dating back to the summer of 1996. According to Guardian, the complainant is a woman, who is now 50 years old. It is not known whether the 70-year-old will be extradited and tried by a British criminal court, the newspaper said.

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