Image Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP
Today, in the highly-publicized Harvey Weinstein trial, Mr. Weinstein’s sixth accuser testified. Lauren Young, a model and actress, is one of three witness-accusers whose claims are not being prosecuted in the Manhattan trial. The prosecution called these women as Molineux witnesses, also known as “prior bad acts” witnesses, in order to help establish Mr. Weinstein’s pattern of predatory and abusive behavior.
Mr. Weinstein’s “alleged” sexual assault of Ms. Young occurred in Beverly Hills, which is outside of the jurisdiction of the current prosecution. However, Ms. Young is one of two accusers in a criminal complaint filed against Mr. Weinstein by prosecutors in Los Angeles. The statute of limitations has run for the other two women who served as Molineux witnesses.
Mr. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts, including rape, criminal sexual act, and predatory sexual assault, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. As the prosecutors have no physical evidence, the case will likely turn on whether jurors believe the women’s testimony. Due to this fact, Mr. Weinstein’s defense attorneys have zealously attacked (the credibility of) Mr. Weinstein’s accusers on cross-examination. In an effort to curb the defense’s ruthless, victim-blaming tactics, prosecutors called several secondary witnesses to corroborate aspects of what prior witnesses said, including a casting agent and a DoubleTree Hotel employee.
All six women who testified against Mr. Weinstein recounted similar stories of his behavior; stories that involve hotel rooms, power imbalances, and blatant sexual assault. Mr. Weinstein maintains that all of his sexual encounters have been consensual, which is quite difficult to believe given the fact that close to one hundred women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment against him.
Ms. Young testified today that in 2013, she had a meeting with Mr. Weinstein at the Montage Beverly Hills Hotel to pitch her idea for a dark comedy based on her life. In what one could call his signature predatory move, Mr. Weinstein moved the meeting from the hotel bar to his room. Ms. Young told the jury that she was unknowingly led by Mr. Weinstein into the hotel suite’s bathroom, where Mr. Weinstein trapped her in the bathroom by opening the shower door to block her exit. Ms. Young stated that Mr. Weinstein then proceeded to masturbate while groping her and attempting to tear her clothes off, despite her cries of “no.”
Mr. Weinstein’s trial is one of the most closely followed proceedings in recent history. Many see it as a pivotal moment in the #MeToo movement, which was initiated when several women went public with their allegations that Mr. Weinstein sexually harassed, assaulted, and/or raped them.
Mr. Weinstein’s New York trial will likely last through early March. Stay tuned for future updates.