Women's rights advocates called the first day of former film executive Harvey Weinstein's criminal trial on Monday a "moment of justice" and reckoning, more than two years after accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Weinstein set off the global #MeToo movement.
Eight of Weinstein's more than 80 accusers assembled outside a New York City courthouse as the trial began to show support for the two women whose allegations against the producer led to his criminal charges.
Most of Weinstein's accusers, actress Rose McGowan told the press, "won't even have one day in court."
"Today Lady Justice is staring down a super predator," McGowan said. "I came here today to see this through. I came here today to stand side by side with these other women who you also harmed."
"You thought you could terrorize me and others into silence," she added, addressing Weinstein. "You were wrong."
Harvey Weinstein arrives at a New York City courthouse, ahead of his sex assault trial, with Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette on hand to support his accusers. Weinstein has denied allegations of sexual assault and harassment. pic.twitter.com/ZRVMtEg2PQ
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) January 6, 2020
Jury selection in the trial is set to begin Tuesday. Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison for one count of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act for assaulting two women. He could also face life in prison for committing sex crimes against multiple people. Weinstein claims the encounters in question were consensual.
On Friday, 25 of Weinstein's accusers released a statement calling the trial a major moment in the #MeToo movement, which began when women including Ashley Judd, Asia Argento, and Mira Sorvino went public in October 2017 about the producer's decades of abuse.
"The world will be watching as Harvey Weinstein walks into court to stand trial for a fraction of the egregious crimes he has committed," the group, called the Silence Breakers, wrote. "This trial is critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable and that speaking up can bring about real change. We refuse to be silenced and will continue to speak out until this unrepentant abuser is brought to justice."
Observers on social media applauded the "unimaginable bravery" of the women expected to testify against Weinstein in the coming weeks—including actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused him of rape—and those who "ignited a global reckoning with sexual harassment."
Tonight, ahead of the start of Harvey Weinstein's trial, our hearts are with the survivors who ignited a global reckoning with sexual harassment & assault 2 years ago. To you - & to those who'll take the witness stand in coming weeks - we thank you for your unimaginable bravery.
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— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) January 6, 2020
Today the trial of Weinstein starts. His behaviour started the #MeToo movement. I hope justice will be done to his victims & the #MeToo movement will result in real changes that create a more equal society.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) January 6, 2020
As Weinstein arrived at the courthouse on Monday, he was greeted by demonstrators holding signs that read, "Listen to Survivors" and "Coercion Is Not Consent."
"As we stand here at the beginning of a new year and the beginning of a new decade, time's up," actress Rosanna Arquette said Monday. "Time's up on sexual harassment in all workplaces. Time's up on blaming survivors. Time's up on empty apologies without consequences and time's up on the pervasive culture of silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein."
Hours after the trial began, prosecutors in Los Angeles unsealed their own indictment of Weinstein, charging him with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents in 2013.
At New York magazine, journalist Irin Carmon reported after the trial was underway that she had been sent a 57-page PowerPoint presentation by Weinstein's publicist entitled "The Proper Narrative for Addressing the Harvey Weinstein Case." The document contained opposition research about Weinstein's accusers, which his team is reportedly sending to members of the press.
The legal aid organization Time's Up called the document an example of "the outrageous attacks" Weinstein's accusers have faced.
THREAD: This 57-page document sent to press by Weinstein’s publicist is a small sample of the outrageous attacks his survivors have faced. (h/t @irin)
The “proper narrative”? Weinstein is credibly accused of sexual misconduct by at least 100 brave women. https://t.co/dKrqVoPHdY
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) January 6, 2020
The "proper narrative," the group wrote, is that "Weinstein is credibly accused of sexual misconduct by at least 100 brave women."