In Depth

Harvey Weinstein faces LA rape charge, as New York trial gets under way

Disgraced Hollywood producer faces new charges of rape and sexual assault

Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles on the same day he appeared in court in New York to stand trial in a separate rape case.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said the charges against the disgraced film producer related to the alleged sexual assault of two women over two days in 2013.

Weinstein is currently facing five charges in New York over separate rape and sexual assault allegations involving two women.

Weinstein denies the charges, claiming his relationships were consensual, but admitting that he had “caused a lot of pain”.

The New York Times revealed in 2017 that Weinstein had been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women over the course of three decades

What is happening in the New York trial?

Jury selection in the New York case began on Monday, with the trial proper expecting to begin in around two weeks, says the BBC.

The five New York charges relate to allegations made by two women, and include rape and sexual assault. If convicted, Weinstein could be jailed for life.

Outside the courthouse, accusers, including actors Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan, demanded Weinstein be held accountable, reports The New York Times

McGowan, who alleges she was raped by Weinstein, said: “You brought this upon yourself by hurting so many. You have only yourself to blame.”

Who has accused him in the LA rape charge?

LA County prosecutors have charged Weinstein with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in two separate incidents over two days in 2013.

On 18 February 2013, Weinstein is accused of raping a woman in a hotel after allegedly pushing his way into the room.

The following day, Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulted another woman in a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.

Charges against Weinstein include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. 

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” said LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, as VICE reports.

“I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them,” she added. “It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”

 Lacey said she expected Weinstein to appear in a Los Angeles court once the trial in New York concludes, so as not “to interfere” with the New York case. Weinstein could be extradited to LA or go voluntarily, she added.

Weinstein denies all charges of non-consensual sex.

Hasn't he already agreed a $25m settlement?

Weinstein agreed a settlement in the civil cases against him, but this is separate from the ongoing criminal proceedings.

 The settlement has not yet been finalised, but has received “preliminary approval from most of the parties involved”, according to the New York Times’s Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who won Pulitzer prizes for breaking the Weinstein allegations story.

The final deal would also require court approval.

The central payout of $25m (£19m) would be shared between the plaintiffs - more than 30 female actors and ex-employees of Weinstein and his Weinstein Company film studio. Weinstein would not have to pay a cent, with the cash instead coming from insurance companies representing the Weinstein Company.

Crucially, Weinstein also would not have to admit any wrongdoing.

What was the reaction to the settlement?

News that Weinstein would not have to admit any wrongdoing nor pay any money himself triggered widespread anger.

Zoe Brock, an actor and model involved in the case, told the BBC: “I think the settlement is a joke and it signifies an absolutely broken system. I’m devastated by it, I’m appalled by it.” Anti-sexual harassment campaign group Time’s Up tweeted: “If this is the best the survivors could get, the system is broken.”

Some of the legal representatives for the plaintiffs are also unhappy with the deal, the broadcaster reports. Lawyer Douglas Wigdor said: “We reject the notion that this was the best settlement that could have been achieved.”

But Genie Harrison, a lawyer for another plaintiff, told The New York Times: “I don’t think there’s a markedly better deal to be made.” One of the accusers who is backing the deal, Louisette Geiss, said the settlement would “ensure that all survivors have the chance for recovery and can move forward without Harvey’s damaging lock on their careers”.

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