California governor’s wife among accusers at Harvey Weinstein’s LA trial
- Harvey Weinstein faces 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles trial, stemming from allegations made by five women
- The disgraced Hollywood movie mogul is already serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York for sex crimes
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and actor who is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom, is among the accusers of Harvey Weinstein who will testify at his rape and sexual assault trial that began Monday, her lawyer said.
“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” Newsom’s lawyer Elizabeth Fegan said in a statement. “She intends to testify at his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors, and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women.”
Weinstein, the 70-year-old former movie mogul who is serving a 23-year prison sentence after a conviction in New York, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving Newsom and four other women.
All of them will testify as Jane Doe during the eight-week trial in a Los Angeles court, where jury selection began Monday.
Newsom, 48, appeared in small roles in dozens of films and television shows between 2002 and 2011. Recently she has directed documentaries including The Great American Lie in 2020 and Fair Play from this year. Both deal with gender in society.
She wrote about her experience with Weinstein in a 2017 essay in the Huffington Post after The New York Times and New Yorker stories made him a magnet of the #MeToo movement, but gave few details.
Weinstein, who is being held in a Los Angeles County jail, was brought Monday into court in a wheelchair through a side door, and climbed from it carefully into a seat next to one of his lawyers at the defence table. He was wearing a blue suit, which he is allowed to change into from his jail attire during the trial.
He stood with the rest of the room as the first panel of 67 prospective jurors were brought in, but sat down about halfway through the process. He waved at them from his seat when his lawyers introduced them.
The trial comes five years after women’s stories about Weinstein made the #MeToo movement explode.
In total, nearly 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek, have accused Weinstein of harassment or assault.
Weinstein is charged with four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts.
Most of the incidents in his indictment, like Newsom’s, happened under the guise of business meetings at luxury hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, which Weinstein used as his California headquarters and where he could be seen during awards season and throughout the year.
Four of them occurred during Oscars week 2013, when Weinstein releases Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained would win Academy Awards.
Weinstein says that all his sexual encounters were consensual, and his lawyer Mark Werksman told reporters that the Los Angeles accusations “stem from many years ago” and cannot “be substantiated or corroborated by any forensic evidence” or “credible witnesses”.
If convicted, Weinstein could be sentenced to more than 100 additional years behind bars.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse