Prosecutor details alleged rapes by Harvey Weinstein at LA trial
LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles prosecutor told jurors on Monday that they will hear from eight women who say Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted them during his time as one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood.
The man who became the face of #MeToo allegations five years ago is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for sex crimes in New York.
In Los Angeles, Weinstein is on trial on 11 charges of rape and sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
At the start of opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson offered graphic details and quotes from women who said Weinstein invited them to hotel rooms for purported business meetings between 1991 and 2015.
“He was trying to keep his penis in my mouth,” Thompson quoted one as saying.
He quoted another as saying Weinstein undressed her and fondled her breast while masturbating.
Weinstein, seated in the courtroom in a dark suit and tie, occasionally shook his head while Thompson spoke.
Alleged incidents involving four of the women are the basis of the charges against Weinstein. The other four women, who had encounters with Weinstein outside of Los Angeles, will be presented by prosecutors to try to establish a pattern of behaviour.
One of Weinstein’s accusers is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom. She will testify that Weinstein raped her in 2005 when she was trying to build a career as an actor, Thompson said.
None of the women spoke publicly at the time, Thompson said, because they worried Weinstein “could crush their careers.” He showed the jury movie posters of Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and other Weinstein productions.
“At this time, this was the most powerful person in the industry,” Thompson quoted one of the women as saying.
Another said: “He was king.”
All of the women did tell friends or family members about their experiences, Thompson said.
Weinstein, 70, was convicted of sexual misconduct in New York in February 2020. Allegations against him helped fuel the #MeToo movement of women speaking out about harassment and abuse by men in Hollywood and beyond.
Weinstein was extradited from New York to a Los Angeles prison in July 2021.
In New York, Weinstein is appealing his conviction and 23-year prison sentence. He could face up to 140 years in prison if convicted on all of the charges in Los Angeles. - REUTERS
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