NEW YORK — Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arrived Wednesday morning at a Manhattan courthouse ahead of opening statements in what is expected to be the biggest trial of the #MeToo era.
Prosecutors will begin presenting their case against the 67-year-old, who stands accused of raping one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on another in 2006. He faces charges that include first-degree rape, third-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and insisted that any sexual activity was consensual.
A jury of seven men and five women will determine Weinstein’s guilt or innocence, according to Reuters.
Despite objections from his attorneys, several of Weinstein’s accusers are slated to testify over the course of his trial. Among the accusers to appear on the stand is actress Annabella Sciorra, who has said Weinstein raped her in her apartment in Manhattan in the 1990s, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Attorneys for Weinstein said Tuesday that they had “dozens and dozens of dozens of loving emails to Mr. Weinstein” from his accusers, according to CNN. His attorneys plan to argue the messages show he and some of his accusers were in consenting relationships.
Weinstein’s trial is expected to last more than a month, according to Judge James Burke.
More than two years after allegations against the former movie magnate sparked an outcry that mushroomed into the #MeToo movement, the trial is a landmark moment for activists’ demands for accountability, victims’ empowerment and frank confrontation with power dynamics in workplaces from Hollywood Boulevard to Main Street.
Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, Reuters reported. In addition to the accusations leveled against him in New York, Weinstein faces forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and other charges in Los Angeles stemming from a pair of alleged incidents in 2013.
Earlier this month, Burke declined a defense request to delay Weinstein's trial in light of the charges in Los Angeles, which were unveiled on the first day of court proceedings in New York.
If he's convicted of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault, he faces a mandatory life sentence.
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