Harvey Weinstein’s trial began today in New York City, two years since The New York Times and The New Yorker broke the story of decades of allegations of sexual assault, harassment and rape brought against him. In all, more than 80 women have come forward with horrific stories but the focus of today’s trial is a lot narrower.
The movie mogul faces felony charges for allegedly raping one unidentified woman inside a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcing a non-consensual sex act on a female assistant in 2006. The predatory sexual assault charge against Weinstein is especially significant as it carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. In the state of New York, this charge is considered as serious as murder.
Weinstein faces four counts of that charge, along with one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape.
The 67-year-old, who is currently free on bail and who arrived visibly dishevelled and hunched over a walker today post-back surgery, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Actors Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette and other women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dressed in revolutionary red and rallied outside the court as the trial began.
“Happy trial day to you, Mr Weinstein,” tweeted McGowan. “Welcome to the rest of your life. Hope you’ll have as much fun as we have had being in your jail.”
The trial begins almost a month since Weinstein and his now bankrupt film studio, The Weinstein Company, reached a USD $25 million settlement with dozens of the women who accused him of preying on them. This pay-off was seen as a blow to many of his other victims who want to see Weinstein behind bars.
In a joint statement released on Friday, McGowan, Arquette and 23 other women said “The world will be watching as Harvey Weinstein walks into court to stand trial for a fraction of the egregious crimes he has committed.”
“This trial is critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable and that speaking up can bring about real change,” the statement said. “We refuse to be silenced and will continue to speak out until this unrepentant abuser is brought to justice.”
While Weinstein’s court appearance didn’t begin until 9am Monday, journalists were seen rugging up and arriving at 4.30am in the icy snow. The trial is expected to last two months inside the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Tomorrow, the jury will be picked, a closely vetted process Weinstein is set to present for. According the NBC News, jury selection could take weeks as both sides try to ferret our biases, preconceived beliefs and conflicts of interest.
More to come.
GRAZIA will be on ground outside the court on the days of the trial. You can stay up to date here at grazia.com.au and via our Instagram @grazia.