Weinstein Faces New Charges in LA as Trial Begins in New York

06 January 2020

Prosecutors in Los Angeles, California, have brought new sex abuse charges against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The charges were announced Monday, the same day that his trial for rape and sexual assault began in New York City.

In Los Angeles, Weinstein is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in 2013. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement that evidence will show that Weinstein used his power to "commit violent crimes" against his victims.

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court in New York, Jan. 6, 2020.
Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court in New York, Jan. 6, 2020.

Weinstein appeared Monday in a Manhattan courthouse with his lawyers and security guards. There, he faced charges of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting another woman in 2006.

It was over two years ago that The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times first published accusations of sexual abuse against Weinstein. Since then, more than 75 women have publicly said Weinstein raped or sexually abused them in the past.

The accusations against Weinstein would lead to the #MeToo movement. Hundreds of women -- many from Hollywood -- made public accusations of sexual wrongdoing against well-known, powerful men.

The 67-year-old Weinstein says he is not guilty of the charges he faces in New York. He says any sexual activity was consensual. If he is found guilty of the most serious charges against him – predatory sexual assault -- he faces a life sentence in prison.

For that to happen, prosecutors must demonstrate that Weinstein violated women repeatedly through the years. Prosecutors plan to have actor Annabella Sciorra answer questions during the trial. Sciorra says Weinstein forced his way inside her Manhattan home in 1993 or 1994 and raped her. She was making a movie for his production company at the time.

Prosecutors also want jurors to hear from some of the other 75 women during the trial.

Donna Rotunno is Weinstein's lawyer. She says she will ask hard questions of the women who have made accusations.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense lawyers will begin trying to seat a fair jury. It could take several weeks because of the amount of publicity the case has received.

Possible jurors "may think, ‘I want to be the one to make sure he goes to jail,'" said Roy Futterman, a New York jury expert. He added that other possible jurors may not like the #MeToo movement and want to help Weinstein.

Weinstein and his brother Bob started their production company in 1979. The company was first called Miramax and later The Weinstein Company. It produced famous movies such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. The company says it fired Weinstein in 2017.

In December, the bankrupt company reached a $25-million agreement with many women who have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

assault – v. attack

commit – v. to do (something that is illegal or harmful)

prosecutor – n. a lawyer who represents the side in a court case that accuses a person of a crime and who tries to prove that the person is guilty

consensual – adj. agreed to by all parties

predatory – adj. wrongly harming or using others for pleasure or profit

bankrupt – adj. unable to pay debts