Harvey Weinstein: opening arguments to start in Los Angeles assault trial

Disgraced producer is already serving 23 years in jail in New York after being convicted of a series of sex crimes

Harvey Weinstein's latest trial is expected to include testimony from several alleged victims. AP
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Opening arguments were due to begin on Monday in the Los Angeles trial of disgraced Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein, with five alleged victims expected to give evidence during the two-month case.

The 70-year-old Pulp Fiction producer is already serving 23 years in jail in New York after being convicted there of a series of sex crimes.

He now faces 11 more charges, including sexual battery by restraint, rape and forcible oral copulation against women in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles hotels between 2004 and 2013.

If convicted, Weinstein — who has pleaded not guilty to all counts — could be sentenced to more than 100 additional years behind bars.

The task of selecting a jury got under way on October 10, with Judge Lisa Lench overseeing proceedings.

Widespread sexual abuse and harassment allegations against Weinstein exploded in October 2017, and his conviction in New York in 2020 was a landmark in the #MeToo movement.

In June, he lost a bid to have that sex crimes conviction overturned. He has also been separately charged by British prosecutors with the 1996 indecent assault of a woman in London.

In total, about 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek, have accused Weinstein of harassment or assault.

Weinstein lawyer Mark Werksman has said there would be evidence in Los Angeles from well-known figures, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“Some of these victims, people will recognise them. Some of these women, you've seen them in movies, they've been in ad campaigns, a couple of them have achieved some success as actresses or models,” the paper cited Mr Werksman as saying.

The former producer says that all his sexual encounters were consensual and his lawyer told reporters that the Los Angeles accusations “stem from many years ago” and cannot “be substantiated or corroborated by any forensic evidence” or “credible witnesses”.

Before the allegations against him surfaced, the producer and his brother Bob were Hollywood's ultimate power players.

They cofounded Miramax Films, a distribution company named after their mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979. It was sold to Disney in 1993.

Their hits included 1998's Shakespeare in Love, for which Weinstein shared a Best Picture Oscar. Over the years, Weinstein's films received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.

She Said, a film about the 2017 newspaper investigation into Weinstein that sparked the demise of his movie empire, is set for wide release on November 18 in the US.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 5:32 AM
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