- Harvey Weinstein’s LA trial on rape charges kicked off with opening statements on Monday.
- An attorney for the disgraced mogul suggested that the five female accusers are lying.
- Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison following a previous trial.
Opening statements in Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial on rape charges began Monday with the disgraced mogul’s attorney presenting an aggressive defense, accusing Weinstein’s alleged victims of lying and using sexist terminology to describe individual accusers.
Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged Weinstein with 11 counts of sexual assault stemming from allegations by five different women who accused the one-time producer of abusing them in LA hotels between 2004 and 2013. A jury of nine men and three women will determine Weinstein’s fate in what is expected to be a weeks-long trial.
All five women are expected to testify against Weinstein, including actor and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who revealed herself as one of the accusers earlier this month.
During opening statements Monday, prosecutor Paul Thompson said Siebel Newsom met Weinstein at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005 and raped her in a hotel room afterward. Defense attorney Mark Werksman in his opening statements accused all of the women of lying, but flung specific insults at Siebel Newsom, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He said that Siebel Newsom would “be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood” if she wasn’t married to the governor, per THR. Werksman suggested two of the women’s accounts are false, while arguing that the other three were “transactional sex,” which he claimed was a common practice in Hollywood, the outlet reported.
Attorney Elizabeth Fegan, who is representing multiple accusers in the trial, including Siebel Newsom, told Insider that Weinstein and his enablers are “once again resorting to their despicable, desperate, dishonest attack-the-victim playbook.” Werksman did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison following an East Coast trial but faces an additional life sentence heading into the West Coast proceedings. He has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty.
The Los Angeles trial took on more significance after a New York Court of Appeals in August agreed to hear Weinstein’s appeal on his previous convictions. Should he win an appeal on the New York charges, his freedom will come down to the LA verdict.