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Harvey Weinstein to Stand Trial in Los Angeles, Five Years after Bombshell Reports

Harvey Weinstein was extradited to California last year to face 11 new sexual assault charges

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UNITED STATES: Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film producer, is scheduled to go on trial in Los Angeles on Monday, nearly five years after bombshell reports of sexual assault involving five different women jeopardized and eventually ended his blossoming career.

It is the former Hollywood giant’s second trial, and he has been ostracized since February 2020, when he was convicted of sexual assault and rape in New York trial proceedings.

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Weinstein was extradited to California last year to face 11 new sexual assault charges stemming from alleged attacks between 2004 and 2013, including heinous allegations of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint, and sexual penetration by force.

While Weinstein is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison, famous attorney Jamie White, who has represented the sexually-assaulted victims of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, said it was important that there be accountability for all the victims to give them closure to heal from the trauma.

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“These victims deserve accountability,” he said. “It’s the accountability we expect our public servants come forward with when there is a victim involved.”

Gloria Allred echoed his remarks. “There is no limit to the number of prosecutions that are sufficient appropriate evidence to justify a prosecution elsewhere of the same defendant,” said the lawyer, who represents three women testifying in the forthcoming trial, in an interview with Variety.
“It’s about seeking justice for them,” she said of the women who have been affected.

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Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial emerges nearly half a decade after serious allegations of heinous and atrocious crimes came to the fore, put forward by numerous women who were, in turn, inspiring other silent victims of similar crimes committed by influential hotshots, to come out with their truth to the world.

The #MeToo movement garnered immense support in 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker released a thorough and detailed history of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, with accounts from famous actors such as Ashley Judd, and how his high-profile status in Hollywood gave him a cover to abuse women without considering serious ramifications for decades.

There had long been whispered rumours about the Hollywood mogul, whose multi-billion dollar enterprise was the godfather behind cult movies like Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love. However, the stories shed light on Weinstein’s team of legal advocates, private investigators, and paid advisers who used money, influence and status to buy the silence of numerous victims, ranging from actors to production assistants.

Within weeks of the first revelations, nearly 90 women emerged from the darkness, eager to tell their version of the story, accusing the Hollywood producer of inappropriate behaviour and sexual violence in incidents that date back to the 1970s.

Weinstein’s 2020 trial in New York on accusations of raping two women marked a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement that saw others testify about their experiences, including the Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, who said the producer raped her in the early 1990s.

The jury found Weinstein guilty of rape in the third degree and a criminal sex act in the first degree for forcing oral sex on Miriam Haley, a former Project Runway production assistant. A judge sentenced him to 23 years in prison.

Still, Weinstein, now 70, has consistently maintained his innocence. He recently sought to have his New York conviction overturned, but a five-judge panel upheld the court ruling.

“All of the allegations against Mr Weinstein are either fabricated, or they result from consensual sexual relationships that his accusers now falsely characterize as sexual assaults,” Weinstein’s lawyer, Mark Werksman, said.

Meanwhile, many have argued that the movement has gone too far, attorney White said. Weinstein should not leverage that idea and be given punitive punishment for his acts.

“We’re seeing laws all over this country change. There’s already been an extraordinary amount of progress. There’s a lot more to go,” said White. “We need to make sure these policies change and these temperaments and that we don’t go back to our old ways.”

Jury selection for Weinstein’s trial begins on Monday. If he receives a convicted ruling on those charges, he could face up to 140 years in prison.

Also Read: Angelina Jolie Alleges Physical Abuse by Brad Pitt in a New Filing

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