Opening arguments have begun in the trial in New York of ex-movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who could face life behind bars if convicted.
The 67-year-old denies five charges, including rape and sexual assault, relating to two accusers.
Prosecutor Meghan Hast said: “The man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, he was a rapist.”
The defence will argue the two encounters, which happened in 2006 and 2013, were consensual.
A Weinstein lawyer said that his opening argument would tell jurors the accusers had sent “loving emails” and “bragged” about their sexual relationships with him.
The trial is expected to conclude in early March.
The 67-year-old denies five charges, including rape and sexual assault
Mr Weinstein arrived at the Manhattan court flanked by several members of his team. When asked by a reporter if he could get a fair trial, he replied: “Of course.”
Once one of Hollywood’s most decorated and lauded producers, Mr Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women – allegations which helped drive the #MeToo movement.
But few of the complaints have led to criminal charges.
Last week, a judge told potential jurors that they must decide Mr Weinstein’s case based on the evidence and not make it “a referendum on the #MeToo movement”.
What is he charged with?
Mr Weinstein is charged with raping one woman in a hotel room in Manhattan in 2013, and performing a forcible sex act on a second woman in 2006.
Mr Weinstein’s lawyers Damon Cheronis (left) and Donna Rotunno talked to reporters following a bail hearing
The criminal charges stem back to May 2018, when Mr Weinstein turned himself into New York police. He was then charged with rape and several other counts of sexual abuse against the two women.
He was released on $1m (£760,000) bail the following month and pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault in the New York Supreme Court.
There were originally six charges, but in October that year, a New York judge dismissed one of them after prosecutors said one of his accusers had given a witness a different account of the alleged sex assault from the version she had given them.
In August 2019, Mr Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two additional charges of predatory sexual assault. They related to an alleged assault that took place on actress Annabella Sciorra in Manhattan in the early 1990s.
That is too long ago to be prosecuted under New York state law, but prosecutors filed the indictment because it will allow them to call Ms Sciorra as a witness during the trial.
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, who led the sexual assault case against former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, will lead the prosecution.
Mr Weinstein unsuccessfully tried to get the trial moved out of New York City, arguing that the intense media scrutiny would make it hard for him to get a fair hearing.
What is his defence?
The 67-year-old has admitted that he has “caused a lot of pain”, but maintains he is innocent of any crimes.
“Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual,” his spokeswoman said soon after the first allegations emerged.
His lawyer Donna Rotunno has said she plans an aggressive defence.
In September, she told CBS: “Any time we talk about men and women in sexual circumstances, I think we have to look at the fact that there’s always an area of grey. So there are these blurred lines, and I think sometimes one side walks away from an event feeling different from the other.”
She said the evidence would exonerate the movie mogul of any criminal wrongdoing. “I’m not here to say he was not guilty of committing sins,” she said. “But there’s a difference between sins and crimes, and I don’t think he’s a rapist.”
Mr Weinstein himself is unlikely to testify.
- Four charged for violating restrictions on public gathering at Christ Embassy ‘Pneumatica Night’
- What is the big deal? – Brigitte Dzogbenuku on WGHS refusing to let students fast
- I had sex with a goat, masturbated 6 times a day – Male victim of sexual abuse recounts
- Police secures restraining order against #FixTheCountry protest on May 9
- Mahama Ayariga acquitted, Opuni ordered to open his defence
- #FixTheCountry protestors counter injunction with #NameAndShame campaign on social media
- #FixTheCountry: We’ll use the courts to set aside order against May 9 protest – Economic Fighters League
- Government declares Thursday, May 13, as public holiday to mark Eid-ul-Fitr
- Dominic Ayine questions independence of judiciary
- Methodist Church stands by its objection to GES directive to let Muslim students fast – Bishop of Northern Accra Diocese
Ban on mining in forest reserve and water bodies yielding results – Lands Ministry
NSMQ 2021: 3-man Sandema SHTS team with no supporters, books place in final U/E qualifiers
Sylvester N. T. T Addy (PhD): What to expect now that Ghana’s Plant Variety Protection law has been passed
No prison inmate contracted Covid-19 since the outbreak – Bawumia
Catholic Relief Service partners GWCL, assemblies to solve water shortage in Tamale Metropolis
Punter wins ¢47,000 bet with Betika
God is a woman; my new song highlights power of women – Eno Barony
Childish Gambino sued by rapper over alleged ‘This Is America’ copying claim
GHAMRO wins copyright case against telcos
Federal grand jury indicts four former Minneapolis police officers in George Floyd’s death
Water project to benefit 13 communities takes off at Ketu South
Hassan Tampuli engages contractors to begin dredging of dams in Gushegu Municipality
Missing ‘okada’ rider found dead in the bush
Thousands of cockroaches released in restaurant to settle debt dispute
Muslim worshippers attacked with eggs and stones outside London mosque