Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is set to go on trial again next week, this time in Los Angeles on charges of rape, sexual assault, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint, and sexual penetration by use of force.
If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 140 years behind bars. He’s already serving a 23-year sentence after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault in New York in 2020. That case is under appeal, with his attorneys arguing the judge and a juror were biased against him. Weinstein, 70, has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in both criminal cases.
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.
The charges in the Los Angeles trial, which begins Oct. 10 with jury selection, involve the alleged sexual assaults of five women over the course of nearly a decade.
“Anyone who abuses their power and influence to prey upon others will be brought to justice,” LA County District Attorney George Gascón said when the Los Angeles indictment was announced in July 2021.
How we got here
In October 2017, the New York Times first reported the allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein. Less than a week later, the New Yorker published its own report, including allegations against Weinstein from 13 more women. After those stories were published, more than 80 women came forward accusing the former producer, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, of sexual harassment and assault.
In May 2018, Weinstein was arrested in New York and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse, and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two women. A few days later, a grand jury indicted Weinstein on those charges; then, in July 2018, prosecutors added one count of first-degree criminal sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault for a forcible sex act against a woman related to a 2006 incident.
The New York trial began almost two years later, on Jan. 6, 2020. Over six weeks, the jury heard testimony from six women. After four days of deliberation, the jury found Weinstein guilty of raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in 2013 and sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006. They acquitted him of predatory sexual assault, which was the most severe charge.
"This is a new landscape for survivors of sexual assault," Cy Vance, then the Manhattan district attorney, told reporters after the verdict. "These heroic women broke their silence to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, and a generation of sexual assault survivors heard their every word."
During his New York trial, prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that they would be charging Weinstein with raping a woman and sexually assaulting another woman relating to two 2013 incidents. Then, a few months later, the Los Angeles County prosecutors added sexual battery by restraint to the list of charges.
In October 2020, the Associated Press reported that prosecutors in Los Angeles charged Weinstein with the rapes of two more women, adding three new counts of rape and three new counts of forcible oral copulation to the list of charges in that case.
And that brings us to 2021.
In April last year, Weinstein was officially indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, which led to a New York judge ruling that the former film producer could be extradited and moved from his New York prison to a Los Angeles prison to be held while he awaited trial in California.
As the Los Angeles trial drew closer, Weinstein’s lawyers attempted in August to postpone the trial, arguing that the release of the movie She Said (which recounts how New York Times journalists exposed the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein) on Nov. 18 could negatively influence the jurors.
Lisa Lench, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, denied the motion, clearing the path for the trial to begin in October.
The allegations in the Los Angeles case
The charges in this trial are connected to the alleged assaults of five women in West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013.
One woman alleged that Weinstein raped her in her hotel room after pushing his way inside in February 2013. According to court documents previously obtained by BuzzFeed News, the woman said Weinstein entered her room after they attended a film festival, and they spoke briefly before he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her.
Prosecutors say that the next evening, Weinstein sexually assaulted another woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills. The woman said she agreed to attend a meeting with the former producer and another female acquaintance at a hotel restaurant. After the meeting, the woman alleges that Weinstein asked the two women back to his suite. When inside, one of the women followed him into his hotel bathroom and told prosecutors that the other woman shut the bathroom door, leaving her trapped inside the bathroom with Weinstein.
The woman alleges that Weinstein then took off his clothes, showered, and stood between the woman and the bathroom door, “turned her around and held her in place by her breast as he masturbated until he ejaculated on the floor,” court documents previously obtained by BuzzFeed News state. Only after Weinstein finished did he let the woman leave the bathroom, prosecutors said.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
How the trial will proceed
The trial in Los Angeles will begin on Oct. 10 with jury selection. Opening statements are scheduled to start on Oct. 24, and the trial is expected to last two months.
The five women whose claims form the basis of the charges in the Los Angeles case will testify in this trial. On top of that, five additional witnesses will be testifying, discussing “prior bad acts,” according to USA Today.
“Prior bad act” witnesses usually provide testimony on experiences they have had with the defendant, which prosecutors then use to illustrate a pattern of criminal behavior and abuse. In the New York trial, four witnesses testified about their experiences with Weinstein, which were not part of the criminal case. It is unknown who the five additional witnesses in the Los Angeles trial will be.
More court proceedings could be ahead
In April 2021, Weinstein’s lawyers appealed his rape and sexual assault conviction in New York, arguing that the women’s testimony led the jury to focus on the history and pattern of allegations rather than on specific charges relevant to the case, among other issues. But, in June 2022, an appeals court in New York decided to uphold the original conviction.
Weinstein’s lawyers petitioned this rejection to the New York Court of Appeals. In August, a New York judge reviewed the attorneys’ petition and granted the former producer the right to appeal the 2020 verdict, which could take place sometime next year, according to NBC News.
Also, over the summer, British authorities announced that they had authorized UK law enforcement to charge Weinstein with two counts of indecent assault relating to incidents that occurred in summer 1996.