Prosecutors on Monday portrayed former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a serial predator who used his power to manipulate and sexually assault young women, while the defence argued that his accusers engaged in consensual sex that they later reframed as attacks.
During opening statements in the high-profile rape case, New York prosecutors accused Weinstein of committing violent attacks on aspiring actresses who suffered shame and humiliation as they internalised trauma from the encounters.
Defence attorneys countered that emails from the accusers to Weinstein would show they maintained warm relations, which could undermine a case that appears to rely primarily on the testimony of the accusers.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women, Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault.
The trial is a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, in which women have gone public with allegations against powerful men in business and politics.
"The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist," said Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast as Weinstein looked on from the defense table.
She described in detail Weinstein's alleged attacks on former production assistant Haleyi and actress Mann, as well as on actress Annabella Sciorra. Sciorra's allegation is too old to be the basis of a separate charge but is being used by prosecutors to establish a pattern of serious sex crimes against multiple women.
Sciorra is expected to testify on Thursday, according to Weinstein's spokesman, Juda Engelmayer. The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to comment.
Hast told a jury of seven men and five women that Weinstein manipulated women with promises to open doors in Hollywood, coaxing them to hotel rooms or private apartments and then overpowering and violently attacking them.
One female juror seemed to wince at the graphic details, which included Hast recounting Weinstein forcibly performing oral sex on Haleyi, yanking out her tampon.
Weinstein's lawyer, Damon Cheronis, said the evidence would show that consensual interactions were being relabeled as attacks.
Haleyi reached out to Weinstein multiple times after the alleged assault, including once to “reminisce” about their time together in 2006, Cheronis said.
The lawyer said Mann repeatedly sought out Weinstein's company and told the producer she loved him and even wanted him to meet her mother.
"While the narrative they painted for you is one that may reinforce your preconceived notions, it's not the truth," Cheronis told jurors.“You dont call Harvey Weinstein a predator in 2020 when you want to introduce him to your mother in 2015,” he said.
Hast cautioned jurors thaRead More – Source