Five years after the bombshell reports that ended his career, the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein will go on trial in Los Angeles on Monday over a series of alleged sexual assaults involving five different women.
It’s the second trial of the former Hollywood titan, who has been incarcerated since February 2020 when he was convicted of sexual assault and rape in proceedings in New York.
Authorities extradited Weinstein to California last year to face 11 additional sexual assault charges for alleged attacks that took place between 2004 to 2013, including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force.
While Weinstein is already likely to spend the rest of his life in prison, Jamie White, an attorney who has represented survivors of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor whose serial sexual abuse of girls and young women has shaken the gymnastics world, said it was important that there be accountability for all victims.
“These victims deserve accountability,” he said. “It’s the accountability we expect our public servants come forward with when there is a victim involved.”
Gloria Allred echoed his remarks. “There is no limit to the number of prosecutions that are appropriate sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution elsewhere of the same defendant,” said the lawyer, who represents three women testifying in the forthcoming trial, in an interview with Variety.
“It’s about seeking justice for them,” she said of the women who have been affected.
Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles is taking place half a decade after the first reports of the extensive allegations against him sparked a movement, leading women around the world to come forward about the abuse they have faced at the hands of powerful men.
The #MeToo movement took off in 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker revealed Weinstein’s extensive history of sexual misconduct, with accounts from actors such as Ashley Judd, and how his powerful status in Hollywood allowed him to abuse women without consequence for decades .
There had long been whispers about the behavior of the movie mogul, whose company was behind films such as Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love, but the stories shed a light on how Weinstein’s team of lawyers, private detectives and paid advisers helped silence accusers who ranged from actors to production assistants.
Within weeks of the first revelations, nearly 90 women had come forward accusing Weinstein of inappropriate behavior and sexual violence in incidents that date back to the 1970s.
Weinstein’s 2020 trial in New York on accusations of raping two women marked a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement that saw others testify about their experiences, including the Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, who said the producer raped her in the early 1990s.
The jury found Weinstein guilty of rape in the third degree and a criminal sex act in the first degree for forcing oral sex on Miriam Haley, a former Project Runway production assistant. A judge sentenced him to 23 years in prison.
Still, Weinstein, now 70, has long maintained his innocence. He recently sought to have his New York conviction overturned, but a five-judge panel upheld the ruling. The state’s highest court, however, has agreed to allow Weinstein to appeal the conviction.
Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles comes at a critical juncture for the #MeToo movement. The case is one of several to play out across America this month, including trials against the actors Kevin Spacey and Danny Masterson and the director Paul Haggis.
It also follows the high-profile proceedings this year that saw a jury ordering actor Amber Heard to pay her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, $10m for defamation after she wrote about her experience speaking out against violence against women.
In the years since the Weinstein revelations, some people have argued that the movement has gone too far, White, the attorney, said. Weinstein should not benefit from that idea, he continued, adding that there had been crucial progress in the years since the movement began.
“We’re seeing laws all over this country change. There’s already been an extraordinary amount of progress. There’s a lot more to go,” said White. “We need to make sure these policies change and these temperaments and that we don’t go back to our old ways.”
Weinstein has denied the allegations against him. “All of the allegations against Mr Weinstein are either fabricated, or they result from consensual sexual relationships that his accusers now falsely characterize as sexual assaults,” Weinstein’s lawyer, Mark Werksman, said.
The attorney added that Weinstein is unwell, unable to walk, and has several infected teeth because he is unable to receive proper dental treatment at the Los Angeles county jail.
Jury selection for Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial begins on Monday. If convicted on those charges, he faces up to 140 years in prison.