Harvey Weinstein set to stand trial on sexual assault charges in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five years after women’s stories about him exploded the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein is on trial in the city where he was once an Oscar colossus.

Already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York, the 70-year-old former movie mogul is facing different allegations, including several that prosecutors say occurred during a pivotal week of the Oscars. in Los Angeles. Jury selection for an eight-week trial begins Monday.

Weinstein has been charged with four counts of rape and seven other counts of sexual assault involving five women, who will appear in court as Jane Does to tell their stories. He pleaded not guilty.

Four other women will be allowed to speak to account for Weinstein’s sexual assaults that did not lead to charges but which prosecutors hope will show jurors he had a propensity for such acts.

Beginning in the 1990s, Weinstein, through the Miramax company he ran with his brother, was an innovator in running broad and aggressive campaigns promoting Oscar nominees. He had unparalleled success, pushing films like “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Artist” to Best Picture wins and becoming among the most thanked men of all time in Oscar acceptance speeches.

Miramax and its successor The Weinstein Co. were based in New York, where Weinstein lived and did business, but that didn’t diminish his presence in Hollywood.

“He was a creature of New York, but he was also a creature of Los Angeles,” said Kim Masters, editor of The Hollywood Reporter and longtime observer of the film industry. “He had this huge Golden Globes party that was always way beyond his capacity when he was in his prime. He was the king of Hollywood in New York and Los Angeles.

It was during Oscars week in 2013, when Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for Weinstein Co.’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and Quentin Tarantino for writing the company’s ‘Django Unchained’, that four of the 11 alleged crimes were took place.

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Etienne Laurent/Pool Photo via AP

Like most of the incidents in the indictments, they occurred under the guise of business meetings at luxury hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, which Weinstein used as his California headquarters and where he could be seen during awards season and throughout the year. He was treated like more than a VIP. In a preliminary hearing, the driver who drove Weinstein to Los Angeles said even he was allowed to take up to $1,000 in cash in Weinstein’s name from the front desk of the hotel where the tycoon was staying.

By the time stories about him in The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017 caused his downfall, Weinstein’s power to seemingly want films to win awards had waned and his business had fallen into financial trouble.

“His stature changed, he wasn’t Oscar’s king anymore, which made him really vulnerable,” Masters said.

The Los Angeles trial will likely be far less spectacular than the New York proceedings, and not just because it’s a sequel and Weinstein is already serving a long sentence.

Foot traffic is sparse and there is no main entrance to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse hosting the trial. Weinstein won’t be visible to any hordes of media or protesters outside like he was in Manhattan, as he’ll be ushered into the courtroom straight from jail – once he changes into his prison attire in costume – through a small hallway where no cameras are allowed that could capture him.

Only a dozen reporters, including two cartoonists, will be allowed to enter the small courtroom each day, compared to several dozen in New York.

Weinstein will also be represented by different attorneys in Los Angeles, Alan Jackson and Mark Werksman. They expressed concern that the films could play a role in the lawsuit.

The film “She Said,” which fictionalizes the work of two New York Times reporters and their explosive stories about Weinstein, is set to be released midway through the trial on November 18.

Weinstein’s lawyers lost a bid to delay proceedings because of the film, with the judge rejecting their argument that the publicity surrounding it would harm a potential jury against him.

“This case is unique,” Werksman said during a preliminary hearing. “Mr. Weinstein’s notoriety and his place in our culture at the center of the firestorm that is the #MeToo movement is real, and we try to do everything we can to avoid having a lawsuit when there is will have a whirlwind of negative publicity against it,” Werksman said during a preliminary hearing.

Weinstein’s trial is one of many with #MeToo connections that have begun or are about to begin as the fifth anniversary of the movement’s greatest moment passes, including the actor’s rape trial. That ’70s Show’ Danny Masterson just down the hall from Weinstein’s and Kevin Spacey’s New York Civil Sexual Assault Trial.


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