Harvey Weinstein hired private investigators to meet with journalists and track down his accusers to thwart media reports of his alleged sex offences, his rape trial has heard.
The 67-year-old Hollywood producer hired Black Cube – a firm founded by former intelligence analysts from the Israel Defence Forces – in 2017, as reporters from The New Yorker and The New York Times were looking into his behaviour with women, the court heard.
The articles, published in October 2017, ushered in the #MeToo movement as scores more women came forward with allegations against Weinstein and other prominent figures in industries from Hollywood to Wall Street.
Image: Corporate lawyer Dev Sen said his firm signed a contract with Black Cube on behalf of Weinstein
Details of the Black Cube deal were given in court by Dev Sen, a corporate lawyer at Boies Schiller Flexner, who said the firm signed a contract with the private investigators on behalf of Weinstein.
The jury of seven men and five women were shown an email from the movie mogul to someone at Black Cube which read: “Red flags are the ones of interest.”
Prosecutors said he was referring to a list of names marked in red to identify his accusers.
Those names included The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who gave evidence last week and claimed Weinstein overpowered and raped her after barging into her apartment in the mid-1990s.
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Asked about Black Cube as he left Thursday’s proceedings, Weinstein defended his use of the private investigators, telling reporters outside he did it “for days like this”.
Image: Actress Annabella Sciorra gave evidence to the trial last week
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.
Sciorra’s claim is too old to be charged as a separate crime.
However, prosecutors hope her testimony will help show jurors he is a serial sexual predator as they consider the two charges – that he forcibly performed oral sex on a production assistant in his apartment in 2006, and raped an aspiring actress in a Manhattan hotel in 2013.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty, and has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
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