Harvey Weinstein has appeared at New York’s supreme court for the first day of his rape trial.
The 67-year-old Hollywood producer is facing five charges including rape and sexual assault involving two women, which he denies.
It comes as he was charged in Los Angeles on Monday with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in 2013.
Prosecutors in the Californian city have been reviewing eight cases of alleged sexual assault.
Weinstein looked frail as he entered the New York court building using a walking frame, which his lawyers say he needs following back surgery – and his hair was dishevelled.
He was first seen using the frame when arriving at court for a bail hearing in December.
He has previously spoken publicly of suffering ill health following the accusations.
When asked how his back felt, Weinstein responded with a thin smile and a so-so gesture with his hand.
He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Across the street, actresses and other women who allege they were sexually harassed or assaulted by him said he did not deserve anyone’s pity.
Sarah Ann Masse, a performer and writer who alleged he once sexually harassed her during a job interview said: “He looked cowardly. He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t make eye contact.”
“This trial is a cultural reckoning regardless of its legal outcome,” she added.
Jury selection at New York‘s Supreme Court will begin on Tuesday – more than two years since the allegations first came to widespread public attention and gave momentum to the #MeToo movement – with the trial expected to last around two months.
Weinstein’s lead lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said she was hopeful a fair jury could be found that would not pre-judge the case, telling reporters outside the court that “In this great country, you are innocent until proven guilty”.
He will be in court every day, but is not expected to testify on his own behalf.
If convicted Weinstein could face a life sentence.
Dozens of women have made allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against Weinstein since the publication of revelations in the New York Times in October 2017.
High-profile actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are among those who say the Oscar-winning producer behaved inappropriately towards them.
Rosanna Arquette, who says Weinstein derailed her career after resisting his advances, says she will attend court to support his alleged victims.
Actress Rose McGowan, another of Weinstein’s most prominent accusers, has said the trauma he caused her is so great she could not face being in court.
Speaking outside the building, she thanked the women who will give evidence, saying they represent many more who may never get their day in court.
She said: “They are standing for us, and I am immensely proud of them.
“We didn’t have our day. But hopefully they will. Their victory will be our victory. Their loss will be our loss”.
Ms Rotunno has argued the case is weak and has said she plans to aggressively cross-examine the accusers.
At his trial, Weinstein faces charges that he raped a woman, who has not been identified, at a Manhattan hotel in March 2013.
He is also accused of forcing a production assistant into a sex act at his apartment in 2006.
Weinstein has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with dozens of women who accused him of sexual misconduct but the criminal cases against him might not end with his trial in New York.
Picking a jury for Weinstein’s trial could take a while, partly because immense media attention could mean some potential jurors have already made their minds up.
Weinstein’s lawyers attempted to get the trial moved out of Manhattan but a court rejected that.
Source : Sky News