LOS ANGELES—In what was poised to serve as a fresh blow at violent male predators, prosecutors here on Monday said convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted several women and used his power to ensure their silence.
“They feared that he could crush their careers if they reported what he had done to him,” Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson said during opening statements in the latest criminal trial against the disgraced Hollywood titan.
Weinstein, 7src, has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges against him, including rape and sexual assault, after allegedly using his power in the entertainment industry to lure and abuse five women in Los Angeles between 2srcsrc4 and 2src13. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14src years in prison.
The once formidable producer was wheeled into the Los Angeles Superior courtroom on Monday, where he thanked the court deputy who helped him to the defense table before prosecutors launched their opening statements. Weinstein, who was wearing a black suit and glasses, occasionally looked at Gloria Allred, a lawyer representing several of his accusers, who was sitting in the gallery.
Thompson read out loud several harrowing quotes from Weinstein accusers who were set to testify against him. They described Weinstein groping, undressing, and raping them despite their pleas for him to stop. All of the women, prosecutors said, were terrified to speak out being of Weinstein’s inescapable presence in the entertainment industry.
“You’re going to hear from eight different women who were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in Los Angeles,” Thompson said, though he did not mention Jane Doe 5 or her allegations against Weinstein, despite prosecutors including allegations from five women in the criminal case. “Each of these women came forward independent of each other, and none of them knew one another.”
Thompson added that while all of the women told friends and family about the alleged assaults, they did not publicly accuse Weinstein of any wrongdoing until after the MeToo movement exploded in 2src17. Prosecutors say that it was not until this critical period—which exposed the most powerful men in Hollywood—that the women felt comfortable exposing the man once referred to as “the king.”
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
On Monday, L.A. prosecutors said former actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, was one of five Jane Does whose allegations factor into the criminal case and that she was expected to testify against Weinstein. Police say Siebel Newsom, who first detailed her allegations in a 2src17 HuffPost essay, was raped by Weinstein.
Prosecutors say Weinstein referred that day to “a list of A-List actresses whose careers he supposedly made, and his voice moved from pleading to aggressive and demanding” before he forced her onto the bed and forcibly raped her.
“She couldn’t get any words out because of her fear,” Thompson said about the alleged attack in Weinstein’s hotel suite, which she believed would be a business meeting to “discuss her career.” Thompson said that during the assault, which was detailed for the first time in court Monday, Weinstein told her to “relax [because] this is going to make her feel better.”
Lauren Young, who testified in the New York trial that convicted Weinstein of rape and sexual assault, has also been identified as one of the Jane Does who will take the stand in the new case. She previously testified that in February 2src13, when she was 23 years old, Weinstein trapped her in a Beverly Hills hotel room before he groped her and masturbated on the floor.
“I stood there in shock… and I went to the door. By that point he was already undressed and he stepped in front of me with his naked body…I felt so trapped,” Young testified in 2src2src, serving as a witness to a pattern of behavior in the New York case.
The three other Jane Does whose allegations are part of the trial have not yet been identified, but they include an Italian model who alleges Weinstein attacked her in a hotel room after a 2src13 film festival. Thompson said Monday that she was “alone, in a foreign country” at the time of the assault and didn’t have a strong grasp of English at the time.
Another accuser, identified as Ashley M, alleges that Weinstein attacked her after a 2srcsrc4 movie premier in Puerto Rico.
“Harvey Weinstein’s LA trial started today. It is much worse than what he faced in NYC. May he rot in jail til the end of his days,” actress Ellen Barkin, who has publicly accused Weinstein of verbal assault and attended his New York trial, tweeted on Monday. Barkin also notably testified against Johnny Depp in his civil defamation civil trial against Amber Heard, where both actors detailed harrowing allegations of abuse.
In addition to the five women at the crux of the charges against Weinstein, prosecutors are expected to call at least 5src witnesses to the stand. Some of them will be women who have accused Weinstein of assault but whose allegations are not a part of the criminal case. Prosecutors will call these “prior bad acts” witnesses to establish Weinstein’s pattern of predatory behavior, a tactic that has helped convict predators across the country in recent years.
The corroborating witnesses include Ambra Battilana Guiterrez, who alleges Weinstein assaulted her in 2src15. Unlike the other women in the case, however, Gutierrez cooperated in an NYPD sting operation that ultimately led to Weinstein’s arrest—though no charges were ultimately filed at the time.
The jury on Monday heard the lengthy audio recording from the sting operation, in which Weinstein is heard promising to help Gutierrez’s career. Gutierrez alleges that as he was making these professional promises, he was allegedly groping her.
“Don’t embarrass me in the hotel. I’m here all the time,” Weinstein is heard in the recording. “Five minutes. Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”
At another point in the recording, Weinstein appears to threaten her, adding: “If you don’t trust me, then we have no reason to do anything, and you will lose big opportunities.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Norweigan model Natassia Malthe is also among the corroborating witnesses set to testify that Weinstein raped her in 2srcsrc8 during the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. Prosecutors said Monday that Natassia’s friend, director David Nutter, will also testify.
“I laid still and closed my eyes and just wanted it to end,” Malthe said in a 2src17 press conference. “I was like a dead person.”
Weinstein’s legal team has yet to disclose who they plan to call to the stand to refute these allegations. But one of his lawyers previously told The Daily Beast, “We’re confident once the jury hears the details of these allegations, they’ll see that they didn’t happen or that they’re fabricated, or that they didn’t happen the way they say they did.”
The defense was set to begin their opening statements on Monday afternoon.
The latest trial against Weinstein in Los Angeles once seemed ceremonial, after the disgraced mogul’s conviction in New York just months before the pandemic lockdown. But the New York State of Appeals in August agreed to allow him to appeal his conviction—which carries a 23-year sentence—next year.