Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
NEW YORK (AP) — As Harvey Weinstein goes through his New York trial on rape and sexual assault charges, here's a look at the movie mogul's past and his multiple legal fights.
A HOLLYWOOD KINGMAKER:
For decades, Weinstein was among the most powerful men in film.
Born in Queens, New York, the son of a jewel cutter, Weinstein and his younger brother Bob began as rock concert promoters in Buffalo. They became distributors of independent and foreign films, then major players in the 1990s mainstreaming of indie films into Academy Awards contenders with movies that included “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
Through his companies Miramax and later The Weinstein Company, he was known for his hard-nosed style with employees and competitors, and as an innovator in campaigning for Oscars, bringing the relentless methods of politics into play for awards for his films.
THE ALLEGATIONS BEGIN:
In October 2017, whispers and rumors of allegations of serious sexual misconduct became a roar with the publication of stories about Weinstein in The New York Times and The New Yorker. In those stories and in the months that followed, dozens of women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong'o and Ashley Judd, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, while actresses Asia Argento, Rose McGowan and others accused him of raping them.
A COLLAPSING CAREER:
Following the deluge of allegations, Weinstein became a film industry pariah.
The 67-year-old disgraced movie mogul was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and received a lifetime ban from the Producers Guild of America. He was removed as head of The Weinstein Co., which subsequently declared bankruptcy; its films and other assets bought by Dallas private equity firm Lantern Capital. Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, filed for divorce.
Women globally began using the hashtag #MeToo to share their own stories of sexual assault. Reports of sexual misconduct involving men in entertainment and media soared, and people came forward to make allegations against multiple other famous men in movies, the news media, music, television and the fine arts.
On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested on charges involving two people: Lucia Evans, who accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex in his office in 2004, and an unidentified woman who said she was raped at a hotel in 2013.
Prosecutors would later add a third alleged victim to the case, Mimi Haleyi, who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.
Weinstein has broadly denied having engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct.
He vowed an aggressive defense, and his legal team scored an early victory. Prosecutors dropped Evans from the case after evidence surfaced that a police detective had coached a witness to stay quiet about her doubts about the truthfulness of the allegations.
Police and prosecutors in New York considered bringing charges involving several women but couldn't pursue some cases because the statute of limitations had expired.
Weinstein worked with several lawyers before settling on his current team, Donna Rotunno, Arthur Aidala and Damon Cheronis.
ALLEGATIONS STACK UP:
Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting two women on successive nights during Oscars week in 2013. Los Angeles prosecutors allege he raped a woman at her Los Angeles hotel, then sexually assaulted a woman in his Beverly Hills hotel suite the next day.
He could get up to 28 years in prison if convicted on all of those charges.
Los Angeles county prosecutors said three more sexual assault cases remained under criminal investigation. Others, dating from the late 1970s, 2011 and 2015, were declined for prosecution because statutes of limitations had expired.
OTHER LEGAL WOES:
Dozens of actresses, models, former employees and associates have sued Weinstein in federal and state courts in the more than two years since a surge of sexual misconduct allegations against him emerged in media reports and spurred the #MeToo movement.
Those who sued included the actresses Dominque Huett, Paz de la Huerta, Wedil David, Judd and McGowan.
In December, a tentative $25 million settlement was revealed that would end many of the suits brought against Weinstein and his former film studio's board. At least 29 plaintiffs including actresses, former Weinstein employees and the New York attorney general’s office have agreed to the proposed settlement, a plaintiffs’ attorney, Elizabeth Fegan, told The Associated Press in December.
It wouldn't cover additional lawsuits from Judd, who alleges Weinstein interfered with her career after she rejected his sexual advances, and McGowan, who says Weinstein, some of his lawyers and an Israeli intelligence firm engaged in racketeering in an attempt to keep her from publicly saying he raped her. Weinstein’s attorneys called the allegations baseless.