As Harvey Weinstein Trial Opens In New York, New Charges Announced In Los Angeles

Jan 6, 2020
Originally published on January 6, 2020 6:53 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein was back in court today. It was the opening of the criminal trial against him in New York City. And within just a few hours, he faced even more charges, this time on the West Coast. NPR's Rose Friedman was in court today to tell us more. And just a warning before we begin that this story does deal with sexual violence.

And so, Rose, to begin, what happened today in court?

ROSE FRIEDMAN, BYLINE: Yeah, so Harvey Weinstein was in court today. He was using a walker and leaning on it pretty heavily after back surgery. It ended up being a pretty short day in court, though. Today was mostly pretrial matters like what evidence would be let in.

Here's one interesting tidbit. The prosecution mentioned a set of photographs they wanted to present to the jury. It left a lot of people wondering what was in those photos because the prosecutor made a point to say she would not use them to humiliate the defendant. Meanwhile, a group of Weinstein's accusers who weren't part of the criminal case held a press conference nearby calling out Weinstein. Actress Rose McGowan spoke to reporters.

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ROSE MCGOWAN: I thank those testifying for standing not just for themselves but for all of us who will never have even one day in court.

CORNISH: Can we talk about how things got to this day in court? - because we know beyond Weinstein himself, his conduct helped spark the #MeToo movement.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. Weinstein was arrested in May of 2018, so that was about eight months after The New York Times and The New Yorker published those bombshell reports. Since then, about 80 women have accused him of various types of harassment, assault and rape. Some of those incidents are too old to be charged. Others happened in other cities. But the Manhattan District Attorney's Office did eventually charge him with five criminal acts related to two women.

So one is a former production assistant at the Weinstein Company named Mimi Haleyi. She says that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his home in 2006. The other one is still anonymous, but she says Weinstein raped her in 2013. And then there's one more case that's likely to come up. Actress Annabella Sciorra says that Weinstein raped her at her apartment in 1993 or 1994. So that's too long ago to prosecute, but the DA is expected to have her testify anyway. She would help prove that Weinstein committed serious crimes against more than one person. And that's part of this predatory sexual assault charge that could come with a life sentence in prison.

CORNISH: Can we talk about what he's being accused of in Los Angeles? What have you heard?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. So the Los Angeles district attorney just announced new charges against Weinstein on the opposite coast. The LA DA, Jackie Lacey, said the charges included raping one woman and assaulting another in a two-day period in 2013. Here she is.

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JACKIE LACEY: Once the defendant's case is completed in New York, we expect him to appear in a courtroom in Los Angeles County to face these charges.

FRIEDMAN: The DA also said they're still investigating three other women's stories to see if they want to file more charges.

CORNISH: What's next for the New York case?

FRIEDMAN: Well, finding a jury will take about three weeks. One expert in jury law that I spoke to told me that lawyers for both sides will be scrutinizing potential jurors' social media for any signs of prejudice because, of course, this is still playing out in the media. The prosecution chastised Weinstein's lawyer, Donna Rotunno, today for being a little too available to the press. Here's how she hit back after court today.

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DONNA ROTUNNO: I think they believe that their side of this story is the only one that matters and the only one that counts. And that's what this trial's for. This trial is to show the jury, the state of New York and the world that there's more to this than they would like everyone to believe.

FRIEDMAN: Let's remember. This is the highest profile case to come out of the #MeToo movement, so plenty of people will be watching it.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Rose Friedman, who's reporting from the Harvey Weinstein case.

Thanks so much.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.