Weinstein sex crimes trial opens in New York

File: Movie producer Harvey Weinstein exits after his appearance in criminal court on sexual assault charges on July 11, 2019 in New York City. 

AFP

NEW YORK - Harvey Weinstein's high-profile sex crimes trial opened on Monday, more than two years after a slew of allegations against the once-mighty Hollywood producer triggered the #MeToo movement that led to the downfall of dozens of powerful men.

The disgraced movie mogul faces life in prison if convicted in a New York state court of predatory sexual assault charges, in a trial expected to last six weeks.

Almost 90 women, including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have accused the 67-year-old of sexual misconduct since The New York Times detailed claims against him in October 2017.

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But Weinstein, once one of Hollywood's most influential people, is being tried on charges related to just two women, highlighting the difficulty of building cases around incidents that took place years ago.

Former production assistant Mimi Haleyi alleges that the "Pulp Fiction" producer forcibly performed oral sex on her in his New York apartment in July 2006.

The second alleged victim is anonymous. She says Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax Films, raped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013.

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"The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra will also give evidence as the prosecution seeks to convince the jury that Weinstein engaged in a pattern of predatory sexual behaviour.

A conviction would signal a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement in the fight against sexual harassment and abuse of power in Hollywood and beyond.

"This trial is critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable and that speaking up can bring about real change," 25 of Weinstein's accusers said in a statement.

Source
AFP