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Harvey Weinstein's second sex crimes trial begins in Los Angeles

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 4 2022.
Etienne Laurent
/
AP
Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 4 2022.

Updated October 24, 2022 at 8:06 AM ET

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's second criminal trial over the alleged sexual assaults of women, at least one occurring 18 years ago, begins in earnest this week in Los Angeles.

Opening statements are expected to start on Monday. Weinstein's fate will be decided by a jury of nine men and three women, who were chosen in a process that lasted nearly a week.

The start of the Los Angeles criminal trial comes five years after the first stories exposing his illicit actions against women were first published by The New York Times and The New Yorker. Those stories also helped the #MeToo movement expand, eventually taking down other powerful men in Hollywood and beyond.

The 70-year-old Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence tied to his 2020 conviction in New York for charges of criminal sexual act and rape in the third degree. He was extradited to California for this trial.

The Los Angeles trial is significant, however, as Weinstein is in the process of appealing his New York conviction. If found guilty, the Los Angeles verdict could add decades to his prison time. But if his New York appeal is successful, the Los Angeles verdict could be the only substantial reason he stays in prison.

What is different about this L.A. case?

A general view of Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
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Getty Images
A general view of Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

In Los Angeles, Weinstein is facing 11 charges that he sexually assaulted women in separate incidents over a span of nearly a decade, a larger case than the one argued in New York.

Weinstein was first charged with sexual assault in Los Angeles in 2020 just as his New York trial was getting started. He was eventually indicted in Los Angeles in July 2021 for four counts of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force.

Weinstein allegedly raped a woman at a hotel between September 2004 and September 2005, according to prosecutors. He is also facing accusations that he raped another woman on two separate occasions in November 2009 and November 2010 at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Weinstein is also accused of sexually assaulting another woman at a Beverly Hills hotel in May 2010 and charged with sexually assaulting two women during separate incidents in 2013.

Will the accusers testify?

Mark Werksman (C) and Alan Jackson (R), attorneys for Harvey Weinstein, walk from Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
David McNew / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Mark Werksman, center, and Alan Jackson, right, attorneys for Harvey Weinstein, walk from Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Nine of Weinstein's alleged victims — including fashion models as well as filmmaker and former actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom (who is currently California's first lady) — are expected to testify against him. Court case documents indicate the accusers will testify in court as "Jane Doe" number 1-5 to keep their identity under wraps.

Judge Lisa B. Lench has also allowed four additional women to testify as "prior bad acts" witnesses, according to Variety.

Prosecutors plan to call dozens of witnesses to testify against Weinstein in the coming weeks — as many as 50, NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports. Their identities are not yet known, with one famous exception: Lench ruled earlier this month that controversial actor Mel Gibson, a friend of one of the victims, can testify in court.

Other witnesses the prosecutors hoped to use in their case, including Daryl Hannah and Rose McGowan, were excluded by Lench.

McGowan, a Hollywood TV and film actress, had previously accused Weinstein of raping her in 1997. He denied her claims, though the two worked out a $100,000 settlement over the alleged incident. McGowan had attempted to sue Weinstein in a separate case, but that lawsuit was later dismissed.

Court attendance will be smaller

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein listens in court during a pre-trial hearing in Los Angeles.
Etienne Laurent / POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Weinstein listens in court during a pre-trial hearing in Los Angeles.

The trial will take place at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. It's expected to last eight weeks, according to The Associated Press.

No grand perp walk will happen in this trial as Weinstein remains behind bars. He will be kept in jail and brought to the courtroom for trial.

In New York, Weinstein was seen by the media and hordes of protesters each time he arrived for his trial in Manhattan.

Only 24 reporters, including two sketch artists, can be inside the courtroom each day, according to the AP. In New York, dozens were allowed inside to monitor the trial.

Years before #MeToo, Weinstein dominated Hollywood

This second rape trial will be another reminder at just how far the former movie mogul has fallen.

At his peak, Weinstein was highly influential in Hollywood thanks to his companies, Miramax and The Weinstein Company.

Movies produced or distributed by those companies were at one point nominated for more than 340 Academy Awards — winning 81 of them — before he was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

In October 2017, The New York Times and days later The New Yorker published exposes into allegations that Weinstein had attacked dozens of women over several years. Allegations of this nature were often whispered about, even joked about, but never brought to light in this way before.

Weinstein's ordeal is far from over.

This summer Weinstein was charged with assault in London related to an attack that occurred in 1996, according to authorities there.

Weinstein has never admitted any wrongdoing.

Correspondent Mandalit del Barco contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.