Ex-movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is in the midst of a second sex crimes trial
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
He was once a towering figure in Hollywood. But onetime movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who's 70 years old, is now in the middle of his second sex crimes trial in Los Angeles. He was previously convicted in New York more than two years ago on charges of rape and criminal sexual assault. We're joined now by Variety reporter Gene Maddaus, who's been following this story. Thank you so much for being with us.
GENE MADDAUS: Happy to do it.
MARTIN: Can you outline the specific charges against Harvey Weinstein in this particular trial?
MADDAUS: Yeah, he is facing 11 charges, basically, of rape and sexual assault, and they involve five different women. And the dates range from about 2004 to 2013. There's more than 100 women who have come out with their stories about Harvey Weinstein. He's been through a trial in New York. But there are people who have not told their story publicly who will be telling their story publicly. Jennifer Siebel Newsom is one. She's the wife of Governor Gavin Newsom in California. Ambra Battilana Gutierrez is another. She's going to be testifying as well. So there are some people who have not had a chance to get their full story out there who will have that chance.
MARTIN: You mentioned Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California's governor. What is she alleging?
MADDAUS: She is alleging that Harvey Weinstein raped her in 2004 or 2005, somewhere in that area. And she, you know, at the time was a young actress. And she claims that basically she was lured to a business meeting, or what she thought was a business meeting, and then it became something else. And all of the employees disappeared, and it was just her and Weinstein. And she alleges that he raped her. We - you know, she had sort of told her story in little bits and pieces before, but she has not told the full story. So that will be something that will be certainly new at the trial.
MARTIN: During his New York trial, Weinstein was found guilty, and he went to prison, but he's now been granted an appeal. Is that going to have an effect on how the prosecutors in Los Angeles make their case? I mean, the stakes are higher for them now - right? - because they don't want to leave a door open to a possible appeal down the road.
MADDAUS: Yeah, I think there was a moment where a lower appeals court upheld his conviction, and then it looked at that point like, well, the Los Angeles trial is moot now in a way, because he's already - he's 70, and he's been sentenced to 23 years in prison. So you're sort of pounding the rubble at a certain point. But, you know, obviously now the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, has agreed to take the case. And there are issues that are potentially reversible in here. There are questions about whether, you know, certain witnesses should have been allowed to testify in New York and whether - that has been raised at the appellate level and given some credence. So if he's convicted in Los Angeles, I think we're sort of quite sure that he is going to be in prison for the rest of his life. But it's still up in the air still what's going to happen with the New York case.
MARTIN: So Weinstein was one of these people who was really the catalyst for the broader #MeToo movement, drawing attention to sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace. And in particular, I mean, it did start in Hollywood, this movement. You've been covering this. Has it brought real change to the film industry more broadly, the #MeToo movement?
MADDAUS: I mean, it's really hard to say. There's still sort of a culture in Hollywood where there are huge power disparities. There are, you know, incredible rewards for success. I mean, certainly there is a much larger cultural focus on this than one could have possibly imagined five years ago. That's for sure. But, you know, who knows?
MARTIN: Variety's Gene Maddaus, we appreciate you sharing your reporting on this. Thanks.
MADDAUS: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.