Will he be imprisoned for the rest of his life? The fate of ousted Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is now in the hands of jurors, who left to deliberate Friday after nearly two months of a fire trial in Los Angeles in which his defense tried to discredit his accusers. Accused of rape and sexual assault, the 70-year-old former “king” of the cinema, who produced award-winning hits such as “Pulp Fiction” or “The Artist”, has already been sentenced in New York in 2020 to twenty-three. years in prison for similar acts.
During this retrial, four women, who testified anonymously, accused the producer in great detail of forcing them to have sex at hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013. A fifth eventually refused to testify.
After weeks of harrowing hearings, often interrupted by sobbing victims, prosecutors have painted Weinstein as an all-powerful troll whose stranglehold on Hollywood — the films he produced have received more than 330 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes — have long prevented victims from speaking out , for fear of consequences for their careers.
“There is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein was a predator,” prosecutor Marlene Martinez said in her closing statement. “And like all predators, he had a method,” she insisted, urging jurors to “put an end to his reign of terror”. “Hotels were his trap. Confined within these walls, the victims could not escape its imposing mass,” the judge summed up, relying on the similarities between the testimonies.
The former producer, who has always assured that all his accusers were consenting, refused to testify at the hearing. For him, the stakes are high. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to more than a hundred additional years behind bars. The verdict in this new trial in Los Angeles is also particularly important because, after an initial denial of justice, the New York Supreme Court finally allowed him in August to appeal his sentence in 2020, which had been a major victory for the #MeToo movement. .
Combative, his defense systematically questioned the word of the four accusers, as well as that of other women who were heard as witnesses to facts that occurred elsewhere than in Los Angeles. The charge “rests completely” on the injunction “believe me”, condemned Alan Jackson, one of the producer’s lawyers.
Nearly 90 women have accused Weinstein
According to him, two of the accusers described meetings that never took place. The other two had consensual relationships in exchange for favors in Hollywood, he claimed, which they later regretted and turned into accusations as they rode the avalanche of revelations directed at Weinstein at the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017. .
The attorney particularly incriminated Jennifer Siebel-Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who revealed her identity during the trial. “Regrets are not the same as rape at all,” he said. “You cannot rewrite your own history, regardless of who you are married to. »
During two days of testimony, the actress recounted how a meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2005 turned into rape after 45 minutes of pressure from the producer. ” I’m shaking. I’m crying. He knows it’s not consensual at all,” she explained tearfully. At the helm, she compared the method of Weinstein’s lawyers, who questioned her very insistently, with that of their client. “What you’re doing today is exactly what he did to me,” she panted.
In total, nearly 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette, have accused Harvey Weinstein of harassment, sexual assault or rape. But the statute of limitations has been exceeded in many of these cases, some dating back to 1977. The former producer is also charged in the UK with sexual assault dating back to 1996.