In Los Angeles, the retrial of Harvey Weinstein for rape has begun. The prosecutor insisted on one point: abuse of power.
A fallen Hollywood mogul who abused his power… Since Monday 24 October, in Los Angeles, Harvey Weinstein has been sitting in the dock for his second trial. He is facing eleven counts of alleged acts committed on five women between 2004 and 2013, in hotels in California. At the opening of the trial, the prosecution said the 70-year-old used his influence to rape and sexually assault women. "They were afraid he would destroy their careers if they told what he did to them," US Attorney Paul Thompson said, calling Harvey Weinstein "the king" and "the most powerful figure in the industry".
According to the prosecutor, eight women are expected to take the stand, "each independently of the other, without knowing each other". He showed pictures of all the women who will testify throughout the trial. He also quoted statements from some of them, testifying to forced oral sex, rape, fondling and inappropriate gestures. Two years earlier, the 70-year-old former film producer was sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York. In total, nearly 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette, have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape.
Abuse of power
Among the victims who will testify, one of them told investigators that her attacker was "tall, massive, overweight and domineering". "I was afraid something would happen to me in the bedroom or outside if I didn't behave, because of his power," another woman said. Paul Thompson insisted on a man who had "every right", who displayed his "power with presidential candidates". The latter presented the juror with a photo of the alleged perpetrator with Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US election.
Mark Werksman, Harvey Weinstein's lawyer, defended his client. "Sex was used as a bargaining chip. It may have been uncomfortable and awkward… but it was consensual," he said, claiming that he did not abuse his power to assault women. "Look at him. He's not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. You think these beautiful women slept with him because he's hot? No. They did it because he was powerful". The victims, he said, voluntarily engaged in consensual sex in the hope of getting a job or prestige. If convicted in this latest legal episode, Harvey Weinstein could be sentenced to serve more than 100 more years in prison.
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