Frail-looking Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for opening day of rape trial

6 January 2020, 16:47

Harvey Weinstein arrives at federal court in New York
Harvey Weinstein arrives at federal court in New York. Picture: PA

Harvey Weinstein has arrived at New York's Supreme Court for the first day of his rape trial that is expected to last around two months.

The disgraced movie mogul faces allegations that he raped one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.

The 67-year-old, who arrived at court with a walking frame, has pleaded not guilty and says any sexual activity was consensual.

His lawyers say Harvey Weinstein needs the walking frame following surgery for a back injury and he has previously spoken publicly of suffering ill health following the accusations.

If he is convicted of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault, he faces a mandatory life sentence.

For that to happen, prosecutors must demonstrate Weinstein had a habit of violating women. They plan to call actress Annabella Sciorra, who says Weinstein forced himself inside her Manhattan apartment in 1993 or 1994 and raped her after she starred in a film for his movie studio.

Prosecutors also want jurors to hear from some of the more than 75 women who have come forward publicly to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault.

Harvey Weinstein arrived at court with a walking frame
Harvey Weinstein arrived at court with a walking frame. Picture: PA

High profile actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are among those who say the Oscar-winning producer behaved inappropriately towards them.

Rosanna Arquette, who says Weinstein derailed her career after resisting his advances, says she will attend court to support his alleged victims.

According to half a dozen lawyers, over 30 actresses and Weinstein employees who sued him for accusations ranging from sexual misconduct to rape, agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement with the Weinstein company.

Weinstein's lawyer, Donna Rotunno, has argued the case is weak and said she plans to aggressively cross-examine the accusers.

After more than two years since the allegations first came to widespread public attention and catalysed the #MeToo movement, jury selection is scheduled to start this week.

It is likely to take around two weeks to select 12 jurors, before the trial gets under way in Manhatten, New York.

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