Judge on Harvey Weinstein rape trial tells jurors to not use case to make a statement on #MeToo

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 17, 2020, 09.11 AM(IST)

The Weinstein Company suffered a major blow after more than 70 women accused founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct including rape. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Harvey Weinstein is now 67 as he pleaded not guilty on all accounts of sexual assault and rape as he says they were consensual. 

As former media mogul Harvey Wesintein’s rape trial continues in its first leg, four men and three women were chosen Thursday as jurors. The judge presiding over the selection told the jurors to not use the case to make a broader statement on the #MeToo movement but to judge it purely on evidence. 

"This trial is not a referendum on the #MeToo movement," Justice James Burke told the potential jurors on Thursday. "You must decide this case on the evidence."

Among the jurors selected, a woman works at a sports venue, a woman who works as a security guard and a man who is in banking sector. 

The entire bench including the prosecutors, Weinstein’s lawyers and justice James Burke are striving to select 12 jurors and six alternates before opening statements on the rape trial. The trial is expected to begin on January 22. 

Earlier yesterday, all jurors who had already passed a round of pre-screening and submitted written questionnaires, were questioned in groups of 20 by the lawyers in the case. As many were found to have known about the case, thus were not found impartial -- were striked off by Weinstein’s lawyers. At one point, while jurors were out of the room, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused Weinstein's lawyers of systematically striking "every white female" from the pool. Among those strike out, supermodel Gigi Hadid's name is also added. 

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein's lawyers said, "We are here to try to pick a fair jury," she said. "This is not some conspiracy against the state."  Also read: Harvey Weinstein charged with rape in LA; could face up to 28 years in prison

Harvey Weinstein is 67 as he pleaded not guilty on all accounts. According to him, all sexual encounters that are now being played as counts of harassment and rape were consensual between him and the women. But, if Weinstein is convicted, he will face life in prison. 

Currently the case is on for atleast more than woman has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape while in 2017 when the issue snowballed, mor ethan 80 women including big Hollywood stars accused him of several degree of sexual assault. 

Weinstein's rape trial began on January 6 and is expected to last up to two months. The former filmmaker had made a plea yesterday to delay the trial and move it out of Manhattan. Read why.