Harvey Weinstein is back in court in Los Angeles.
Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein is on trial again for sex crimes, this time in Los Angeles. Though the substance of this case closely resembles the New York proceedings that earned him his rape conviction in 2020, this time around, the court will hear from nine of his alleged victims as prosecutors attempt to prove his guilt on 11 counts of sexual abuse, including forcible rape and sexual assault. In opening arguments, they highlighted a now-familiar pattern: Weinstein would target young women in his industry, setting appointments to discuss their careers. When the women showed up, they usually found themselves shuttled to a private space — Weinstein’s hotel room, for example — where he would drop any professional pretense and force himself on them.
“They feared that he could crush their careers if they reported what he had done to them,” deputy district attorney Paul Thompson said of the witnesses, per the New York Times.
The defense similarly revived its old tactics, arguing that any sex Weinstein had with the alleged victims was consensual, if also occasionally transactional, in keeping with Hollywood norms. “Look at my client,” Mark Werksman told the jury, according to variety. “He’s not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. Do you think these beautiful women had sex with him because he’s hot? No, it’s because he’s powerful.” Those women, he emphasized, were actors. In the courtroom, they would “play the part of the damsel in distress with this beast,” he added, calling the forthcoming witnesses liars. “Their hypocrisy will be on full display.”
But much of their testimony is expected to mirror the stories already shared by at least 100 women since 2017. Below, the biggest moments from the witness stand.
In 2013, Jane Doe 1 — a model and actor then living in Rome — says she briefly met Weinstein at a Los Angeles film festival and was surprised when he showed up outside her hotel room later that evening, demanding she let him in. Over two days of sometimes tearful testimony, she told the court that after she complied, Weinstein quickly became predatory. But she was confused: English was her second language, and she said she assumed Weinstein “misunderstood” her when he pivoted the conversation toward massage. “His face changed. His eyes changed. His behavior changed,” she said, per Deadline. And having been in “bad situations where men beat me,” she said, she was afraid. She estimated that Weinstein had about 150 pounds on her. “He was expecting that I’m doing what he’s saying and he was … moving me through the bedroom like I’m an object.” She said he maneuvered her over to the bed, where — allegedly holding her by the hair — he forced her to perform oral sex on him. She didn’t scream or try to get away, but “was kind of hysterical through tears,” she said, according to Tea Guardian. “I kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’”
When Weinstein couldn’t get an erection, Jane Doe 1 recalled that he walked her into the bathroom and placed her in front of the sink. “He put his fingers inside me … my private part,” she tested. “He hold me and he try to get inside of me with his penis but I was moving.” She said she was crying and still pleading with him to stop. “I remember how he was looking in the mirror and he was telling me to look at him,” she continued. “’C’mon, little girl. Tell me you like it. You like it.’” When he finally finished, she said, he “was acting like nothing happened,” save for a warning to her not to tell anyone what happened. “My understanding was that he’s somebody powerful so it’s better I not talk,” the witness explained, acknowledging that she had only given vague outlines of the incident to a couple people and only confessed to her priest.
“I wanted to die,” she said of the alleged attack. “It was disgusting. It was humiliating.” Jane Doe 1 said she subsequently developed a drinking problem: “I was destroying myself. I was feeling very guilty. Most of all because I opened that door.”
In its cross-examination, Weinstein’s defense worked to poke holes in the woman’s story. Attorney Alan Jackson questioned how his client found the witness’s room in the first place, and why she didn’t bring “this terrible breach of protocol” to the attention of hotel management. Jackson also cast doubt on her decision to remain in the room for the rest of her stay in LA: “You stayed in the very room that you claim you were attacked and victimized by a sexual predator?”