Harvey Weinstein abused his power to coerce and coerce women in hotel rooms, according to prosecutors on trial in Los Angeles.
The disgraced filmmaker faces 11 counts of rape and forced oral sex in connection with allegations made by women who say they were assaulted between 2004 and 2015.
Weinstein’s accusers, who ignited the #MeToo movement more than five years ago, were sentenced to two years in prison and 23 years in prison after he was convicted in 2020 of rape and sexual assault by a New York court.
The Los Angeles trial is widely seen as symbolic — but far more significant now that Weinstein has been granted permission to appeal his New York conviction.
If he wins his appeal, his future freedom is likely to be decided by a jury in Los Angeles.
They heard the prosecution’s opening statement, delivered by Paul Thompson, detailing the disturbing allegations against the 70-year-old.
He begins with a series of quotes from alleged victims.
Some described the victim’s fear of Weinstein’s figure.
“Part of me thinks I should run for it, but he’s a big guy. He’s big. He’s wide. He’s overweight. He’s domineering.”
Another series of citations from victims asking Weinstein to stop was made.
“Please stop, I don’t want this. What are you doing?”, a quote reads.
“I’m trying to convince him it’s not going to happen…I want to please, I have kids,” another said.
“I told him to stop. I told him to get out of the bathroom. He didn’t. He kept walking towards me,” a third read.
Mr Thompson said the accusers were “concerned that if they reported what he did, he would ruin their careers”.
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The three alleged victims remain anonymous – Jane Doe 1, a model and actress living in Italy at the time; Jane Doe 2, a 23-year-old model and aspiring screenwriter; and Jane Doe 3, a licensed massage therapist.
Another alleged victim, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has not given anonymity.
She is now the documentary filmmaker and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
But prosecutors said that when she met Weinstein 17 years ago, she was a “powerless actress trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood.”
Mrs. Newsom will testify that she met Weinstein at the Toronto International Film Festival and later invited him to a party at her West Hollywood home that was attended by many.
Weinstein then invited Mrs Newsom to “discuss her career” at the Peninsula Hotel, the court heard.
She sat on the sofa and waited for Weinstein, who walked into the room in a formal suit, and five or six others.
“But to her surprise, the aides left quickly,” said Mr Thompson, the prosecution’s.
“Harvey Weinstein went to the bathroom and he called her. She walked over to him and found him in a bathrobe.
“She was in shock, her mind was racing,” Mr Thompson said, claiming Weinstein forced Mrs Newsom to lie in bed, “crying and shaking”.
“She was speechless because she was afraid,
“Weinstein told her ‘relax, it’ll make her feel better.'”
Weinstein then forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her, prosecutors said.
In total, eight women will testify that they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
The trial is expected to last another six weeks.