Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein appeared in a court here on Monday, marking the start of his long-awaited sex crime trial.
Weinstein, 67, hobbled into and out of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, leaning on a walker following a recent back surgery.
The film producer faces five charges from two women. He allegedly raped one woman in a Midtown Manhattan hotel in March 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on another woman at his apartment in Manhattan in 2006.
If he were convicted of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein would face life in prison. The Hollywood heavyweight has been involved in some 80 allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct since investigative reports about his alleged sexual abuse were published on several mainstream media outlets in 2017.
Outside the courthouse, a group of Weinstein’s accusers waved signs demanding accountability for him.
“As we stand here at the beginning of a new year and a new decade, time’s up on sexual harassment in all workplaces,” said actress Rosanna Arquette, one of the accusers.
“Time’s up on the pervasive culture of silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein,” she said.
Weinstein has denied all the allegations, saying any sexual activity was consensual. The trial in New York is expected to last until March with jury selection beginning on Tuesday.
Just hours after proceedings started in the New York court, prosecutors in Los Angeles charged Weinstein with sexually assaulting two women in 2013.
“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 Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey in a statement.
Weinstein is expected to appear in court in California after finishing his trial in New York, Lacey said.