Opening statements begin in Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial
Opening statements in the defamation trial of the Hollywood mogul over his assault trial began Tuesday in New York Supreme Court.
Weinstein was charged with third-degree rape, criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree criminal sexual act in the fourth degree for incidents against two former employees at his company, who also worked for him at other companies.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Lisa Bloom, began her opening statement by outlining how Weinstein “knew what he did against them was wrong and that he had to stop it.”
She went on to describe how Weinstein had “intensely” feared for his safety despite his own lawyers insisting he was not a sexual predator, and was unable to stop himself from doing what he did.
Bloom said Weinstein had “a complex” relationship with women and girls, which included “sexual, physical and emotional abuse that is, in some cases, an addiction.”
“These women are survivors, women who have been assaulted and raped by Harvey Weinstein,” she said.
Bloom told jurors the charges were brought because of “two specific women who are survivors of Weinstein’s assault.”
In her opening statement, Bloom said Weinstein’s attorneys wanted the jury to read the words of the two women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, but the judge had said to tell the jurors that they may not consider the words of the accusers.
She said the accusers’ “stories…have never been heard by the jury,” and instead were the product of “two highly trained, respected professionals” who had looked into Weinstein’s behavior.
Prosecutors are seeking to prove Weinstein’s guilt by the same standard that applies to any other defendant – that he acted with evil intent which he knew involved the commission of criminal acts.
Prosecutors also want to prove Weinstein acted with intent to commit a crime.
The case against Weinstein, 66, is his first trial. A third woman, Lucia Evans, has accused Weinstein of harassment and attempted rape in a civil lawsuit, and he has denied the claims.
Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors and defense lawyers presented their opening statements.
It is unclear exactly what Weinstein will be charged with in the criminal sexual act portion of the case, although he is expected to be convicted of rape and criminal sexual act in the third degree