Harvey Weinstein expected in court as rape trial jury selection starts

By AP reporter

Harvey Weinstein is expected to be in a New York court on Monday as his lawyers and a judge handle the final preparation for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault.

After more than two years since the allegations first came to widespread public attention and catalysed the #MeToo movement, jury selection is scheduled to start this week.

The disgraced movie mogul faces allegations that he raped one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.

The 67-year-old has pleaded not guilty and says any sexual activity was consensual. If he is convicted of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein faces a mandatory life sentence.

For that to happen, prosecutors must demonstrate Weinstein had a habit of violating women.

To that end, they plan to call actress Annabella Sciorra, who says Weinstein forced himself inside her Manhattan apartment in 1993 or 1994 and raped her after she starred in a film for his movie studio.

They also want jurors to hear from some of the more than 75 women who have come forward publicly to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault. The first allegations were brought to light by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, has argued the case is weak and said she plans to aggressively cross-examine the accusers.

Picking a jury for Weinstein’s trial could take a while, in part because immense media attention on the case could mean some potential jurors already have their minds made up.

Weinstein’s lawyers tried to get the trial moved out of Manhattan, but a court rejected the bid.