Harvey Weinstein was a “seasoned predator” who injected himself to get an erection before raping a woman, a court has heard on the opening day of his trial.
The once-powerful Hollywood producer screamed at the alleged rape victim that she “owed” him sex and forced oral sex on another woman, a jury was told.
Weinstein, 67, is standing trial in New York City accused of raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting a second woman in 2006.
Prosecutors claim that the former movie mogul also raped another woman, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, in the 1990s but that allegation is too old to be charged as a separate crime.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five charges against him and insists any sexual activity was consensual. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
In her opening statement on Wednesday, prosecutor Meghan Hast called Weinstein a “seasoned predator” and said his female accusers were “no match” for him.
“He was not just a titan in Hollywood. He was a rapist,” she said.
“It is for his complete lack of empathy that he must be held accountable.”
One alleged victim, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, has claimed publicly that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his Manhattan home in 2006.
The other accuser in the case alleges that she was raped by Weinstein in a Manhattan hotel in 2013.
Prosecutors told the jury that the alleged rape victim found a needle in a hotel room bathroom after being attacked and realised Weinstein had injected himself to get an erection.
On another occasion, after the woman told Weinstein she had a new boyfriend, he allegedly dragged her into a bedroom while “screaming at her that he owed her one more time,” Ms Hast said.
“He ripped her jeans off so forcefully that it left scratch marks,” the prosecutor added.
It was claimed that Weinstein later told the alleged victim: “I just want to apologise for what happened earlier. I just find you so attractive, I couldn’t resist you.”
In a separate allegation – not included in the charges – prosecutors said Weinstein attacked Sopranos actress Sciorra after giving her a ride home to her Manhattan apartment and forcing his way inside.
“She told him to get out. She told him no. But Harvey Weinstein was undeterred,” Ms Hast said.
Prosecutors are expected to call up to three other women, who are not mentioned in the charges, to give evidence in support of their case.
Ms Hast said: “They will each describe their fear, their shame and their humiliation – the struggle each went through to push their trauma down and show a brave face to the world.”
Defending Weinstein, his lawyer Damon Cheronis told the court that the alleged rape victim sent his client a request that year asking for “time privately” with the producer.
He also claimed she sent Weinstein another message telling him: “I got a new number. I just wanted you to have it… Always good to hear your voice.”
“These aren’t our words,” Mr Cheronis said. “They’re hers.
“It is not a relationship based on fear. You are going to see that.”
During the prosecution’s opening statements, Weinstein sat quietly at the defence table, occasionally sipping water from a plastic cup or writing on a legal pad.
Prosecutors showed pictures on a TV in court intended to convey Weinstein’s power, including one of him with former US President Bill Clinton.
Around 100 people were packed into the courtroom for the opening of the trial, which has been described as the biggest of the #MeToo era.
Weinstein entered the courthouse in New York City on Wednesday without a walking frame, which he has used at previous appearances.
Asked by reporters on his way into court whether he thinks he will get a fair trial, Weinstein replied: “Yes.”
When asked why he believed that, he added: “I have good lawyers.”
As he left court at the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, Weinstein told the reporters he believed the day had been “good”.
Since 2017, more than 80 women, including several famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades – although his New York trial involves only two allegations.
He has denied the claims, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
Weinstein’s lawyers say they have “dozens and dozens and dozens of loving emails” from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
The allegations against Weinstein helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which women have gone public with misconduct allegations against powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.
But judge James Burke told potential jurors at a previous court hearing: “This trial is not a referendum on the #MeToo movement.
“You must decide this case on the evidence.”
It is expected Weinstein’s trial could take more than a month.
His lawyers applied to have the court case moved out of New York City after claiming it had turned into a “media and entertainment circus”, but the request was rejected by a judge.
Once the New York trial is over, Weinstein faces additional rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles which were filed earlier this month.
Source : Sky News