As his trial opened on Monday 6th January 2020, Harvey Weinstein has just been charged with two new cases of sexual assault. The events are said to have occurred in 2013.
Harvey Weinstein is far from finished with the justice: accused of multiple sexual assaults, the fallen Hollywood magnate was charged Monday 6th January 2020 in Los Angeles for two new cases, at the same time as his trial, also go crucial and symbolic for the #MeToo movement, opened in New York.
Harvey Weinstein in California accused of breaking into a woman’s hotel room to rape her on the 18th February 2013 and then assaulting another woman the next day in a Beverly hotel room Hills, according to a statement from Los Angeles County attorney Jackie Lacey.
He faces up to 28 years in prison
The identity of the two victims has not been clarified at this stage and the investigation, which began two years ago following the first complaints raised by the #MeToo movement, is continuing in Los Angeles.
The film producer faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted in California.
“We believe the evidence will establish that the accused used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” said Jackie Lacey. This operating mode is identical to that denounced by dozens of women, stars or anonymous, who claim to have been attacked by Weinstein.
Dressed in a dark suit, the 67-year-old former Hollywood magnate, who has difficulty walking with a walker due to back problems, encountered some of his accusers Monday morning upon his arrival at the Manhattan State Court, to the first day of his trial .
Very weak since the revelations of the New York Times in October 2017, he had to pass in front of fifteen women who accuse him of having sexually assaulted them – out of more than 80 in total – armed with placards asking for “Justice for the survivors”.
Among them were actresses Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan.
The former producer made no statement before or after an initial very technical hearing, which lasted only one hour.
He is also not expected to testify in this six-week trial, presided over by Judge James Burke.
The selection of jurors, which should start on Tuesday and could take up to two weeks, promises to be the first battle in this trial followed by the media around the world.
“No more culture of silence”
If more than 80 women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie or Léa Seydoux, accused Harvey Weinstein of having harassed or sexually assaulted them, the trial concerns only two of them directly, a sign of the difficulty in building a criminal record without material and witnessless evidence, around facts often going back several years.
Former production assistant Mimi Haleyi claims that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in her New York apartment in July 2006.
The second alleged victim, who remains anonymous, accuses him of rape in March 2013 in a hotel room in New York.
The indictment includes a third woman, actress Annabella Sciorra, who claims to have been raped by Mr Weinstein in 1993. The facts concerning her are time-barred but must allow the prosecution to substantiate the count indictment of “predatory” sexual behaviour, which puts the perpetrator in the risk of life.
A conviction of the powerful producer would be a major victory for the #MeToo movement and the organization Time’s Up, born in its wake, which fights sexual harassment and discrimination in Hollywood and beyond.
“It is the end of sexual harassment in the workplace, the end of blaming the victims, the end of the apologies without consequences and the culture of silence which helped the aggressors like Weinstein,” said Rosanna Arquette in front of the journalists.
“I hope he will end his days in prison,” Sarah Ann Masse, another woman who claims to have been a victim of Harvey Weinstein in 2008, told AFP.
Extremely rare trials
If since 2017 #MeToo has brought down many men of power, almost all have escaped criminal prosecution.
The only other lawsuit in sight concerns the singer R. Kelly, accused last year of sexual assaults on young women, sometimes minors.
American actor Bill Cosby was sentenced in September 2018 to a minimum of three years in prison, but the proceedings had started before the Weinstein case.
If Harvey Weinstein has become a pariah for public opinion, the accusation is far from assured of obtaining the conviction of the producer, who has always assured that his sexual relations were consented.
Long before the trial, attorneys for Harvey Weinstein, a twice-married father of five, tried to undermine the testimony of the two alleged victims. They produced emails and text messages showing that they remained in contact with him several months after the alleged events.
In a rare email interview with CNN published on Saturday, Harvey Weinstein said he intends to “prove (his) innocence and wash away (his) name”.
In case of acquittal, “I will focus on my children, my health,” said the sixty-something. And if he ever returns to the cinema, it will be to “build places that help to heal and relieve others”.