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Rape Trial Ongoing As Harvey Weinstein Is Allegedly Called A Seasoned Predator

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court following a bail hearing, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Harvey Weinstein was a “seasoned” sexual predator and rapist who abused his power as a movie-producing titan to prey on vulnerable aspiring actresses, prosecutors said Wednesday as his trial heard from its first witness.

Weinstein, wearing a dark suit, shook his head as New York Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast painted a picture of a 300-pound (140 kilograms) bully who violently raped, humiliated and manipulated several women, leaving them traumatized for years.

His defense team hit back by saying the fallen film producer engaged in consensual relationships with his accusers, including a “loving one” in which the woman called Weinstein “her casual boyfriend.”

That woman, who says Weinstein raped her in a New York hotel room in 2013, was identified for the first time in court as actress Jessica Mann, having until now remained anonymous.

Hast told the court many of his victims came from broken homes:

“It will be clear throughout this trial that the defendant knew he was preying on the naive. They didn’t know they were being lured in on false pretenses. They thought they had got their big break. He was the old lady in the gingerbread house luring the kids.”

Defense attorney Damon Cheronis countered that it was “untrue” and “quite the contrary” to call the “Pulp Fiction” producer a predator.

Wednesday’s hearing started with Judge James Burke reminding the 12-member jury and six alternates that they must base their verdict on evidence heard in court and not discuss the trial with anyone outside.

Hast then laid out the prosecution’s case in a lengthy statement that included graphic descriptions of sexual assaults.

Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to Haleyi and Mann in the New York proceedings seen as key to the #MeToo movement. The trial, expected to run until March 6.

Weinstein’s attorney Cheronis said the jurors would see hundreds of emails and other correspondence showing Mann and his client were “in a loving relationship.”

A year after the alleged assault, Mann wrote “Miss you big guy!” in one email, and another which said “Thank you for your unfailing support and kindness,” Cheronis said. In February 2017, she wrote to Weinstein: “I love you, I always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call,” Cheronis told the court.

“Members of the jury, that is not how you talk about predators, that is not how you talk about your abusers,” he said. Cheronis argued that Weinstein’s accusers changed their attitude towards him as the #MeToo movement gathered steam in 2017.

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct but many of the alleged crimes fall outside the timeframe for bringing charges.

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