Once powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been indicted in Los Angeles on sex crime charges just hours after appearing in a New York court for the start of his rape trial.
Weinstein was charged with sexual assault of two women in 2013, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement on Monday.
“We believe the evidence will show the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Lacey said.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. He faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault.
Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead counsel in New York, declined to comment on the LA charges, saying she needed more information. Weinstein’s spokesman declined to comment on Monday’s indictment.
On Tuesday, lawyers in the New York case will start pre-screening jurors, asking them whether they can be impartial and to fill out written questionnaires.
A second phase of jury selection is scheduled to begin on January 14, though the judge overseeing the case called the date optimistic.
The court sent jury questionnaires to 2000 potential jurors, according to a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.
“Once the defendant’s case is completed in New York, we expect him to appear in a courtroom in Los Angeles County to face these charges,” the LA prosecutor said.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades.
Weinstein has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
If you want to understand why Annabella Sciorra will be testifying during the Weinstein trial, and why it’s such a difficult and important thing she’s doing, worth returning to the original @NewYorker piece where she told her story: https://t.co/hbkCt092aW
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 6, 2020
Those accusations helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, politics, the news media and entertainment of sexual harassment or assault.
Prosecutors in LA said Weinstein went to a hotel room on February 18, 2013, forced his way into an unidentified woman’s room and raped her.
The next evening, Weinstein allegedly assaulted a woman in a hotel suite in Beverly Hills, the prosecutor said.
Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison if convicted on the charges, Lacey said.
Earlier on Monday, Weinstein hobbled in and out of the Manhattan court, aided by a walker and with a member of his team holding his arm as he recovers from back surgery.
Judge James Burke ordered Weinstein’s lawyer Ms Rotunno to refrain from talking about witnesses, after she was accused of making degrading and humiliating comments in recent interviews, which she denied.
One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, has said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006. Prosecutors say Weinstein raped the second woman, who has not been publicly identified, in 2013.
Nearby the courthouse, the Silence Breakers, a group of Weinstein accusers including actresses Rosanna Arquette and McGowan, held a news conference and waved signs demanding accountability for Weinstein.