The women at the heart of the Weinstein trial
New York (AFP)
As disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein prepares for his sexual misconduct trial starting in New York on Monday, here is a look at the women at the center of one of the last decade's most explosive stories.
- The accusers -
More than 80 women, including Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd, have accused the fallen producer of sexual harassment and assault but charges have only been brought relating to two.
Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant, alleges that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his New York apartment in July 2006.
"I told him no, no, no, but he insisted," Haleyi told reporters in 2017, recalling that she was menstruating at the time of the alleged assault.
The second alleged victim is anonymous. She says Weinstein, 67, raped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013.
Weinstein's defense team have presented emails which they say show the woman had a consensual relationship with her alleged attacker for several years after the alleged attack.
- Other alleged victims -
Prosecutors will call "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra to testify. She helped trigger the #MeToo movement when she told The New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at her Manhattan home over the winter of 1993-94.
Weinstein cannot be charged with raping Sciorra, 59, because the statute of limitations has expired but she is key to prosecutors' attempts to convince the jury that he engaged in predatory sexual behavior.
Three other alleged victims whose identity is unknown are also expected to take the stand. One says she was raped by Weinstein in Beverly Hills, California, in 2013.
The exact nature of the other two alleged incidents, in 2004 and 2005, are unknown at this stage.
- The lawyers -
Veteran attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon will lead the prosecution. She has three decades of experience as a prosecutor and persuaded a judge to double Weinstein's bail in December after arguing he had mishandled his ankle monitor.
Illuzzi-Orbon famously led the sex assault probe against former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011. The case was eventually abandoned after prosecutors lost faith in the accuser, a New York hotel maid.
Pugnacious Chicago lawyer Donna Rotunno will lead the counsel for the defense. She has defended dozens of men accused of sexual misconduct and condemned the #MeToo movement when she was appointed to Weinstein's team in July.
She plans to use her gender to the defense's advantage.
"I have the ability to get away with a lot more in a courtroom cross-examining a female than a male lawyer does," she told Chicago Magazine in February 2018.
"He may be an excellent lawyer, but if he goes at that woman with the same venom that I do, he looks like a bully. If I do it, nobody even bats an eyelash. And it's been very effective," she said.
- Expert witnesses -
The court will hear evidence from forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv, who is due to be called to the stand by the prosecution.
Pennsylvania-based Ziv testified during US comedian Bill Cosby's trial, in which he was sentenced to a minimum of three years in jail for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
Court documents show that the prosecution want her to dispel "myths surrounding sexual assault" including why victims sometimes don't reveal their trauma until years after the incident.
Judge James Burke last month rejected an attempt by Weinstein's counsel to block Ziv from testifying.
The defense's specialist witnesses include psychologists Deborah Davis and Elizabeth Loftus, who have studied memory in alleged sexual assault victims.
© 2020 AFP