The State of California case against Harvey Weinstein begins in Los Angeles. The rape and sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein opened in Los Angeles Monday. Prosecutors described violent encounters between Weinstein and eight key witnesses from 2004 to 2013.


Trial against Harvey Weinstein begins with graphic descriptions of violent assaults

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Harvey Weinstein and his attorneys were in a Los Angeles courtroom today for the opening statements of his new sexual assault trial. He's already serving a 23-year prison sentence for a conviction in New York state. In the California trial, he faces up to 140 years.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco is outside the courthouse. I want to warn people we will be talking about details of sexual assault. Hey there, Mandalit.


KELLY: OK, so opening statements today - give us a readout on what each side said.

DEL BARCO: OK. So well, LA's deputy district attorney told jurors they'll be hearing from eight women who say they were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. Four are from Los Angeles, four are from outside the area, and each of them came forward independently. The prosecutor started off with some rather graphic quotes from them, describing things they say Weinstein did to them or made them do between 2004 and 2013. He quoted one of the alleged victims saying, I'm shaking and I kind of - and I'm kind of being dragged to the bedroom. Another said, please stop. I don't want this. What are you doing? And another said, I was trying to convince him that's it - that it's not going to happen. I was like, please, I have kids. And those were just the quotes that you can say on the radio, but others were even more graphic.

And the prosecutor talked about how frightened the women had been of Harvey Weinstein's stature. He's - they described him as an intimidating and powerful man in Hollywood - a king and a sexual predator. Here's another quote - "he's big, he's broad, he's overweight, he's domineering."

KELLY: I want to focus on these women - the eight women you said the jury is going to hear from. Can you tell us more about who they are?

DEL BARCO: Sure. Well, some of them are fashion models, actresses, a licensed massage therapist, and there's also Jennifer Siebel Newsom, an actress and documentary filmmaker. She is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Prosecutors say that she met with him - with Weinstein in 2005, when she was making her way in Hollywood, meeting for what she thought was a business meeting, during which time his aides apparently - or reportedly left them alone, and he then sexually assaulted her after he allegedly referred to A-list actresses whose careers he supposedly made.

You know, the prosecutor said this was a pattern for Weinstein, meeting aspiring actresses and other women at awards ceremonies and film festivals and industry parties, luring them into bathrooms or hotel rooms, isolated for his assaults. The deputy DA said these women are able to describe Weinstein's private parts and how they were scarred from surgery. The prosecutor also played a recording in which one of the alleged victims secretly got Weinstein to talk about some of what he had done. And some of these women didn't come forward with the allegations until The New Yorker and The New York Times broke the news and the MeToo movement began.

KELLY: Oh, of course. Harvey Weinstein - I said he was there. How did he look?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, he was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He was not in prison gear, but in a dark suit and tie. Here in California, Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to counts of what the law calls forcible rape, oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force. Weinstein's attorneys say that the 70-year-old is not in good health. And since he was put away, he's had COVID, he had a heart procedure, he now has diabetes and is technically blind. His lawyers told the LA judge they're worried he might have a heart attack or a stroke.

KELLY: All right. So that is NPR's Mandalit del Barco. She is, as you can hear, outside the LA courthouse for the Harvey Weinstein trial. Thanks, Mandalit.

DEL BARCO: Sure thing.

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