Harvey Weinstein’s Trial: Walkers, Witnesses, and a ‘Soldier’ Prosecutor

Harvey Weinstein Sex-Crimes Trial Begins In New York

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Harvey Weinstein arrived in a Manhattan court Monday for the start of his sexual assault trial, more than two years after The New York Times and The New Yorker published explosive reports detailing sexual harassment, assault, and rape allegations.

The disgraced Hollywood mogul has now been accused of misconduct by over 80 women, which ignited the #MeToo movement to expose predatory men in power men and led to the formation of Time’s Up. In Manhattan, Weinstein faces five felony charges based on claims by two of those women. According to CNN, he has pleaded not guilty and is not expected to testify. The outlet reports his defense will instead focus on “undermining the women’s testimony and arguing that the alleged incidents were consensual.” If convicted of predatory sexual assault, he faces life in prison. The trial is expected to last two months and, as Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor write, the case is “narrow… with an already-fraught back story and a highly unpredictable result.”

Here’s everything you need to know.

First day of Harvey Weinstein trial
Women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault gathered outside the New York Supreme Court at the start of his trial.

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The trial is taking place in New York.

At the New York State Supreme Court. For this particular trial, Weinstein is charged with five counts of predatory sex acts, rape, and criminal sex acts.

Several ‘silence breakers’ spoke outside the courthouse

They included Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette, who are showing support for fellow accusers. “Time’s up on sexual harassment in all workplaces,” Arquette said. “Time’s up on empty apologies without consequences, and time’s up on the pervasive culture of silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein.”

Harvey Weinstein Sex-Crimes Trial Begins In New York
Weinstein leaving court on January 6, 2020 in New York City.

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Weinstein arrived at the courthouse with a walker

He was photographed hobbling into court using a grey walker and surrounded by an army of lawyers. Weinstein also reportedly walked to the front of the courtroom to say his name before the proceedings began, which he did “almost exaggeratedly hunched over,” according to USA Today. Weinstein reportedly underwent a three-hour operation on his back and “is now recovering,” his representative told Page Six. However, the tabloid also published photos of the disgraced movie mogul without his walker at a Target, “striding around without any support whatsoever.”

First day of Harvey Weinstein trial
Prosecutors will call several female witnesses to show a pattern of misconduct.

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Weinstein’s trial will last over two months

The hearing on Monday lasted only 80 minutes as the judge set the terms of the trial to come. According to CNN, it starts with two weeks of jury selection and then eight weeks of arguments and testimony. Standard jury selection process begins January 14. According to The New York Times, prosecutors will call several female witnesses to “show a pattern of misconduct,” but that “most of the other allegations against Mr. Weinstein dated too far back to be prosecuted, fell outside New York’s jurisdiction or involved abusive behavior that was not criminal. Other accusers were unwilling to participate, convinced the personal toll would be too great.” The outlet reports that until opening arguments begin, it will be difficult to determine either side’s strength in the case.

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Illuzzi-Orbon, the prosecutor for Weinstein’s trial, is most famous for securing a conviction in the murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz.

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Who is the prosecutor?

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, DA Office spokesman Danny Frost described her in 2018 as “one of the finest trial lawyers in the nation, with unparalleled expertise in high-profile cold cases.” She is most famous for securing a conviction in the murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz after he was kidnapped on his way to school.

According to THR, Illuzzi-Orbon has prosecuted several other celebrities, including Lil Wayne:

In 2007, she prosecuted Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter Jr. and Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins on weapons charges — both were represented by Manhattan defense attorney Stacey Richman and took plea deals. Because of the fact-specific nature of criminal law, Richman says the prosecutor’s past work doesn’t hint at her coming strategy — but it does show her passion. “She calls herself a soldier in the army of the District Attorney’s Office,” says Richman. “She is a true believer and seeks to serve what she perceives is just.”

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Just hours after Weinstein’s New York criminal trial commenced, he was charged with a pair of alleged sexual assaults in Los Angeles.

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Weinstein faces additional charges in Los Angeles County.

Weinstein was hit with charges of alleged sexual assault in Los Angeles just hours after being photographed using a walker to enter a Manhattan courtroom. According to The Washington Post, it’s unclear at this time whether these charges will affect plans to proceed with pre-jury screenings in Manhattan scheduled for this week. The outlet reports that Illuzzi-Orbon objected to a request from Weinstein’s lawyers to have the jury sequestered.

Where is Weinstein now?

He is currently out on $2 million dollar bail and is required to wear an ankle bracelet.

This post will up updated as the trial continues.

Staff Writer Rose is a Staff Writer at ELLE.com covering culture, news, and women’s issues.

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