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Harvey Weinstein charged with rape in LA as New York trial begins

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Media captionUsing a walking frame, Harvey Weinstein arrives for his trial on sexual assault charges

Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles on the same day he appeared in a New York court in a separate case.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said the charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two women over two days in 2013.

If convicted, he could face up to 28 years in prison.

The film producer earlier appeared in a New York court, where he faces separate charges of rape and sexual assault.

Jury selection in the New York case began on Monday, with the trial expected to begin properly in about two weeks.

Mr Weinstein has said all his relationships were consensual but admitted that he had “caused a lot of pain”.

His lawyers have vowed to mount an aggressive defence against the allegations he faces, which spurred the #MeToo and Times Up movements against sexual impropriety.

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Media captionWeinstein accusers take questions outside court in New York

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.

“I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them,” she added. “It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”

What are the latest charges?

LA County prosecutors charged Mr Weinstein with allegedly raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.

On 18 February 2013, Mr Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel and raped a woman after pushing his way inside her room, prosecutors said.

A day later, they said, Mr Weinstein sexually assaulted a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.

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Media caption“Why I broke my silence over Weinstein”

The charges against Mr Weinstein include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $5m (£3.7m).

What happened in New York on Monday?

Jury selection – the first stage of the trial – started at the court in Manhattan.

Once one of Hollywood’s most decorated and lauded producers, Mr Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women.

However few of the complaints have led to criminal charges and in the New York case he faces charges related to allegations made by two women.

The five charges include rape and sexual assault, and could see Mr Weinstein jailed for life if convicted.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Weinstein’s lawyers say he requires a walking frame because of a back injury

Using a walking frame and wearing a black suit, Mr Weinstein hobbled into the courthouse, where dozens of protesters holding signs with slogans such as “justice for survivors” had gathered.

Inside the court, the pre-trial proceedings were marked by a number of sharp exchanges between the state prosecutors and the film producer’s defence team.

In particular, there were tensions over the defence’s treatment of witnesses. Judge James Burke ordered Mr Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno to refrain from talking about witnesses, after she was accused of humiliating and degrading them, which she denied.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protesters held signs outside the court on Monday

Outside the courthouse, some of his accusers, including actresses Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan, demanded that Mr Weinstein be held accountable.

Addressing Mr Weinstein, Ms McGowan – who alleges she was raped by the movie producer – said: “You brought this upon yourself by hurting so many. You have only yourself to blame.”

What do the new charges mean for the New York trial?

In a news conference, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she expected Mr Weinstein to appear in a Los Angeles court to face the charges once the trial in New York concludes.

“We do not at this point want to interfere with the New York case,” Ms Lacey said.

Because of that, she said, the judge presiding over the New York trial would have to decide whether Mr Weinstein should now be remanded into custody.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Lacey said she expected Mr Weinstein to appear in court in LA

When the New York case was over, Mr Weinstein could be extradited to LA or surrender himself voluntarily, she added.

“In any case, we’re in touch with the defendant’s attorneys here in LA, and we’ll be working to figure out how to get him here,” Ms Lacey said.

Neither of the women in the LA case have been publicly identified. One of the women is expected to testify in New York trial, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson said.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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