But Wednesday morning, Weinstein arrived at the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building to face charges that even as he ruled over the movie business in New York and Los Angeles, he was a sexual predator, a serial abuser who repeatedly used his influence and imposing physicality to overpower women in his orbit.
“The evidence will be clear that the man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, but a rapist,” a prosecutor, Meghan Hast, said in her opening statement.
Hast offered graphic details about several assaults. Before one attack, she said, Weinstein injected erection medication into his genitals. On another occasion, he showed up uninvited outside the hotel room of actress Annabella Sciorra. He was in his underwear, with baby oil in one hand and a videotape in the other.
Weinstein tried to force a third woman into having sex with him and his assistant by telling her, “This is how the industry works,” Hast said.
But a defense lawyer, Damon Cheronis, said in his opening statement that Weinstein was neither a predator nor a “master manipulator,” arguing that his accusers were involved with him in transactional relationships meant to advance their own careers. “It was consensual,” he said.
The jury of seven men and five women are being asked to delve into complex issues of consent and power. The case will turn largely on the jurors’ interpretation of hundreds of emails between Weinstein and his accusers, some of which included friendly communication, and on whether they deem the women’s testimony credible.
Weinstein, 67, faces charges that he raped one aspiring actress in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forced oral sex on a production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, in his TriBeCa apartment in 2006.
Four other women, including Sciorra, are also expected to testify, even though most of their allegations are too old to prosecute as separate crimes. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is handling the case, intends to use their testimony to show that Weinstein engaged in a pattern of sexual predation.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .