As Harvey Weinstein sat silently in court on the first day of his highly anticipated rape trial, several of his accusers blasted the disgraced movie mogul outside the Manhattan courthouse.
“Dear Harvey, no matter what lies you tell yourself, you did this. Today Lady Justice is staring down a super predator. You,” said actress Rose McGowan, who’s accused Weinstein of rape. “I came here today to see this through.”
Seven women in red, including actresses Rosanna Arquette and Dominique Huett, rallied together outside of Manhattan Supreme Court to stand for women who have survived sexual assault. The group represents just a handful of the over 80 women who have lobbed sexual-abuse accusations against Weinstein in the last two years.
About a dozen protesters stood outside court Monday as Weinstein, 67, showed up using a walker. He appeared slightly disheveled in a black suit and tie.
Weinstein faces five charges, including predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape, for allegedly performing a sex act on his former production assistant in 2006 and raping another woman in 2013. Prosecutors allege the Oscar winner used the power and prestige of his production empire, The Weinstein Company, to cover up his decades-long predatory behavior. He has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual assault.
“He doesn’t realize what he’s done at all, and I don’t think he ever will,” McGowan said. “He has something sick in his head like many serial rapists.”
“That we’ve come to this moment of justice is staggering. The trial means so much to so many, but it’ll mean the most to the brave women testifying & to all of us Silence Breakers,” she added.
Other accusers who attended Monday’s press conference included Louise Godbold, Sarah Ann Masse, Lauren Sivan, and Paula Williams.
During final pre-trial motions on Monday, Weinstein’s defense team argued they have not been given enough access to the prosecution’s list of accusers. Prosecutors hit back by saying they are not in the business of providing “wholesale information” about alleged sexual assault victims.
The two sides also discussed how to keep inevitable media attention surrounding the trial from influencing the jury, as well as the possibility that jurors may see embarrassing photos.
“There are 72 photographs taken, and we’re going to be asking for the admission of seven of them,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said, adding that while the photos are “very, very important for the jury to see,” the prosecution has taken steps to minimize “any undue prejudice” toward Weinstein.
Justice James M. Burke delivered a blow to Weinstein’s defense team when he denied a motion to sequester the jurors throughout the trial and ruled that a detective who was accused of withholding evidence from prosecutors cannot be called as a witness.
That detective’s handling of actress Lucia Evans’ case ultimately led to the dismissal of one of the charges in the October 2018 indictment against Weinstein. Evans had accused Weinstein of forcing her to engage in oral sex at his downtown Manhattan office in 2004—though a friend later told authorities she claimed the encounter was consensual, a conflicting statement of which prosecutors were never made aware.
Jury selection, for which over 200 New Yorkers have been summoned, begins Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks.
“He seemed like a very broken man,” McGowan said of Weinstein’s courtroom entrance Monday morning. “I think he’s taken some good acting tips. He seemed cowardly, he wouldn’t look at us.”
Arquette, who alleged the disgraced movie mogul forcibly came on to her in a hotel room in the early '90s, had one message on behalf of other Weinstein accusers: “We aren’t going anywhere.” The Pulp Fiction actress garnered cheers as she insisted “time’s up on sexual harassment” and the “culture of silence” on sexual abuse and abusers.
“Unfortunately, there are so many people who feel sorry for the rapist, especially in Hollywood,” Arquette said.
The actress, who said she suffered multiple career setbacks after she rejected the Hollywood titan, was one of the first to come forward against him in an interview with The New Yorker in 2017.
Although the two actresses will not speak in the anticipated six-week trial, jurors will hear from six of Weinstein’s accusers. The prosecution’s case, however, will largely rest on the two alleged victims who made the initial 2018 charges: Mimi Haleyi and an unnamed woman.
Prosecutors allege Weinstein forcibly ripped out Haleyi’s tampon and performed oral sex on the former production assistant at his Soho home in 2006. The second woman, who has remained anonymous, was allegedly raped by Weinstein in a New York hotel room in 2013.
“The whole world is going to watch what’s going on, it’s an important day for women,” Gloria Allred, who represents the two Weinstein accusers, told The Daily Beast outside the courtroom Monday.