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Harvey Weinstein’s New York Trial Is Just the Beginning


Harvey Weinstein leaves court as someone holds his arm.

Harvey Weinstein’s trial began in New York yesterday as prosecutors and his lawyers started jury selection. On the other side of the country, prosecutors in Los Angeles chose that day to announce new charges against him in their jurisdiction. Weinstein has now been charged with four counts of sexually assaulting two different women in L.A. County.

One of Weinstein’s lead attorneys (for now–there’s been a lot of turnover in his team), Donna Rotunno, has been trying to spin the number of women involved in the New York case to Weinstein’s advantage. Around 100 women have come forward with stories about the former film mogul/alleged sexual predator–stories ranging from harassment and coercion to rape and assault–but only two women are involved in the current trial.

“In some ways, that number sort of helps us, because once the jury sits down and the jury hears that this is only about two women, I think they start to wonder how truthful those other circumstances are,” Rotunno told CNN’s Michael Smerconish this weekend. “Or, if there were so many, why aren’t they a part of the criminal case?”

This is a completely disingenuous and insidious argument. Rotunno knows why there are only two women involved, but she’s trying to validate the assumptions of under-informed spectators.

First of all, as L.A. prosecutors just made clear, the two women in New York are not the only ones pursuing criminal charges against Weinstein. They are the ones involved in this specific trial, which is unlikely to be the only trial involving Weinstein.

There are tons of reasons why other accusers aren’t involved in this first trial. Many have accusations of crimes that happened outside of New York (hence the separate charges in L.A.) Others are prohibited from filing charges due to a statute of limitations. Some may not have the kind of evidence needed to proceed with a criminal charge (which in no way proves their stories are false). Many more, I’m sure, simply don’t want to undergo the retraumatization that comes from a criminal trial.

It should also be obvious, but even assaulting and raping two women (which Weinstein denies) is too many. In New York, felony predatory sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. So hopefully the jurors will take that as seriously as it deserves, whether the accusations come from one woman or 100.

Many more women than just the two are expected to speak at Weinstein’s trial, including The Sopranos’ Annabella Sciorra, whose allegations of a 1993 assault by Weinstein are too old to be prosecuted (seriously, statutes of limitations are such BS) but can be used, along with other witnesses’ testimonies, to establish a pattern of predatory behavior and abuse.

By the way, if you’re wondering how the first day of the trial went and if Harvey Weinstein has finally started to think of himself as someone who isn’t actually above the rules laid out in front of him–Nope!

(via , image: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.