At least five potential jurors for Harvey Weinstein's second trial for rape and sexual assault said that they had never heard of the #MeToo movement when asked about it during jury selection in Los Angeles this week.
It’s been five years since the New York Times and the New Yorker first reported that multiple women had accused the former producer of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. Those stories prompted a reckoning within Hollywood and contributed to the rise of the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein, who was charged in Los Angeles in 2020, is currently facing 11 counts, including rape and sexual assault, stemming from allegations related to incidents five women say happened between 2004 and 2013. The former producer, who was perhaps the highest-profile man to face criminal consequences following the #MeToo movement, is already serving a 23-year sentence after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault in New York. If convicted in Los Angeles, he could face up to an additional 140 years behind bars.
Jury selection began in LA on Oct. 10 and was expected to take two weeks. During questioning on Monday and Tuesday, potential jurors were asked about their opinions on #MeToo, and at least five said they had been unfamiliar with it until they saw the term on the jury questionnaire.
“Never heard of it before," one man said after being asked about the movement.
At one point, prosecutors questioned a man who has daughters in their 20s about whether the term rang a bell.
The juror responded, “No, they don’t talk about that."
Among those who were familiar with the movement, opinions varied. One woman said she didn't have much respect for those who say, “after 10 years, ‘Oh, this happened to me too.'"
"I think they’re looking for their 15 minutes of fame," she added.
Another potential juror, described as a man who works in an entertainment-related industry, said that he had no opinion on #MeToo.
“I believe most women but not necessarily all," one juror reportedly said.
"I don't have strong opinions about it," another said.
At the end of the day on Tuesday, one juror who said he had never heard of the #MeToo movement was excused, as was one of the jurors who said they had no opinion on the movement.
Of course, several potential jurors were familiar with the movement and what it stands for. When the prosecution asked the panel of jurors on Tuesday whether they knew what #MeToo meant, one juror raised his hand and said, “It’s a movement for recognition of victimized women.”
In 2020, a juror for Weinstein's New York trial told CBS This Morning that the conviction of the former producer was based solely on the crimes, not the #MeToo movement.
The juror, who only went by “Drew” in the interview, said that the movement had “zero” impact on the decision to convict Weinstein.
As of Tuesday evening, the jury pool stood at 124 people, who are still being questioned by the prosecution and defense. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Oct. 24.
Weinstein, 70, has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in both criminal cases (New York and Los Angeles). He is currently appealing the New York conviction, with his attorneys arguing the judge and a juror were biased against him.