Harvey Weinstein abused his power to corner women in hotel rooms and impose himself on them, according to the indictment at his trial in Los Angeles.
The disgraced film producer faces 11 charges of rape and forced oral sex related to allegations made by women who claim they were assaulted between 2004 and 2015. He pleaded not guilty.
Weinstein’s accusers ignited the #MeToo movement more than five years ago and he is sentenced to two years in prison following his convictions for rape and sexual assault by a New York court in 2020.
The Los Angeles trial was widely regarded as symbolic, but took on far greater significance in light of Weinstein being granted an appeal against his New York convictions.
If he wins the appeal, his future freedom is likely to be decided by a jury in Los Angeles.
They heard an opening statement from the indictment, delivered by Paul Thompson, detailing the disturbing allegations against the 70-year-old.
It began with a series of quotes from the alleged victims.
Some have described the victims’ fear of Weinstein’s size.
“Part of me was thinking I should have run away, but he’s a big guy. He’s big. He’s large. He’s overweight. He’s bossy.”
Another series of quotes was presented from the victims pleading for Weinstein to stop.
“Please stop, I don’t want it. What are you doing?” Reads a quote.
“I was trying to convince him that it’s not going to happen … I was like, please, I have kids,” said another.
“I told him to stop. I told him to leave the bathroom. And he didn’t. He kept walking towards me,” reads a third.
Mr. Thompson says the accusers “feared it might crush their careers if they reported what he had done.”
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Three of the alleged victims remain anonymous: it is Jane Doe 1, model and actress who at the time lived in Italy; Jane Doe 2, 23-year-old model and aspiring screenwriter; and Jane Doe 3, a licensed masseuse.
Another of the alleged victims, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has given up anonymity.
She is now a documentary filmmaker and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
But 17 years ago, when he met Weinstein, he was a “helpless actor trying to make his way into Hollywood,” the prosecution says.
Ms. Newsom will testify that she met Weinstein at the Toronto International Film Festival and later invited him to a party attended by many others at her West Hollywood home.
Weinstein then invited Ms. Newsom to “discuss her career” at the Peninsula Hotel, the court heard.
He sat down on the sofa and waited for Weinstein, who entered the room wearing work clothes with five or six other people.
“But to his surprise, the assistants left quickly,” said Mr. Thompson, of the prosecution.
“Harvey Weinstein has gone to the bathroom, then he calls her. She goes to him and finds him in his bathrobe.
“She was shocked and her mind was racing,” said Mr. Thompson, claiming Weinstein forced Ms. Newsom onto the bed, “crying and shaking.”
“He couldn’t speak words because of his fear.
“Weinstein told her to ‘relax, this will make her feel better.'”
The prosecution claims Weinstein then forced her to have oral sex and then raped her.
In total, eight women will testify that they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
The process is expected to take another six weeks.