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Weinstein trial: key moments in the scandal that sparked #MeToo

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New York (AFP)

Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday for sexual assault and rape, over two years after horrific stories of the disgraced movie mogul's sexual misconduct began to surface.

Here are the key moments in the high-profile case, which marked a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement.

- 2017: Scandal erupts -

The New York Times publishes a bombshell investigative report featuring numerous on-the-record sexual harassment and assault accusations against Weinstein over a period of nearly three decades.

Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan are the highest-profile accusers.

The Times reveals that Weinstein reached non-disclosure agreements in exchange for money with at least eight women, to guarantee their silence.

Weinstein apologizes for causing "pain" but flatly denies the allegations, days before the board of The Weinstein Company ousts him.

Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento tells The New Yorker that Weinstein raped her in 1997. Two other women also accuse him of sexual assault.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Rosanna Arquette join the list of women accusing Weinstein of harassment, as Weinstein continues to deny all claims.

Other Hollywood celebrities and men from other industries come under the spotlight as the nascent #MeToo movement protesting against sexual assault gathers steam.

On October 14, the board of governors of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, the institution that awards the Oscars, votes to expel Weinstein, whose films earned dozens of Academy Awards over the years.

- 2018: Weinstein charged -

Accused of dragging their feet, prosecutors in New York charge Weinstein with rape in the first and third degrees.

The indictment stems from the 2013 rape of Jessica Mann, whose identity was not revealed until she testified.

Weinstein is arraigned in a Manhattan court after surrendering to police amid a mob of television cameras and photographers.

His then-defense attorney Ben Brafman secures $1 million bail for Weinstein.

On July 2, the prosecution adds three new charges over a "forcible" sexual act in July 2006 on production assistant Mimi Haleyi.

- 2019: New testimony -

On August 26, prosecutors file a new indictment that will allow actress Annabella Sciorra, best known for 1992 thriller "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," as well as several episodes of HBO's "The Sopranos," to testify as a corroborating witness.

Sciorra alleges that Weinstein raped her over the winter of 1993-94 in Manhattan. Her case is too old to pursue but prosecutors hope her evidence will help convince the jury that Weinstein was a sexual predator.

The trial, originally scheduled for September, is postponed to January 6, 2020.

The fresh indictment comes after Weinstein in July appoints Chicago attorney Donna Rotunno to lead the defense, having ditched Brafman in January.

A month before the trial kicks off, it is reported that Weinstein has reached a $25 million settlement with more than 30 actresses who accuse him of sexual misconduct, in a civil case unrelated to his criminal trial.

Under the agreement, Weinstein does not have to admit any guilt.

- 2020: Guilty conviction -

A New York jury on February 24 convicts Weinstein on two charges of sexual assault and rape, which the #MeToo movement lauds as a historic victory ushering in a "new era of justice" for survivors.

It came after a seven-week trial in which jurors hear emotional, lurid testimony from women who accuse him of everything from violent rape and abuse to humiliation and sabotaging their careers.

Mann -- whom Weinstein is convicted of raping in the third degree -- weeps profusely during cross-examination, when the defense works to prove her relationship with the film producer was consensual.

Through tears, Haleyi -- whose testimony sees Weinstein convicted of a criminal sexual act in the first degree -- describes in painful detail how the executive "forced himself on me orally" while she was menstruating.

Rotunno says prosecutors have created "an alternative universe" and wrongfully cast her client as a "monster." After the verdict she vows to appeal his conviction.

On March 11, Judge James Burke sentences Weinstein to 23 years in prison, close to the maximum of 29 allowed, rejecting the defense counsel's pleas to issue a minimum sentence of five years.

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