explainer

A walking frame and possibly life in jail: What Harvey Weinstein's life looks like now.

Harvey Weinstein showed up to court on Monday hunched over a walker.

He looked weathered and tired. Vulnerable even.

But his dishevelled appearance has left many asking the question: Is he trying to drum up sympathy as his rape trial gets underway?

Harvey Weinstein Trial
Harvey Weinstein leaves the courthouse at New York City criminal court. Image: Stephanie Keith/Getty.

Is he just trying to seem as unintimidating as possible in the face of rape and sexual assault charges, and with the weight of a worldwide #MeToo movement still upon him?

The 67-year-old did injure his back in a car accident in August and had surgery on his spine last month.

But in December someone spotted him in their local Target without his walker, days after he appeared in a Manhattan courtroom with it, and so the rumours multiplied.

In an interview with The New York Post late last year, Weinstein lamented at being a "forgotten man," claiming his work promoting women in film before it was "vogue" had been overshadowed by "what happened."

In fact, the only reason he took the interview (from a hospital room, mind you) was to prove he hadn't been "exaggerating his ailments" as is being reported.

What is Harvey Weinstein accused of?

More than 80 women have accused the Hollywood producer of rape, sexual assault or harassment over a space of three decades. The incidents go back to 1980 and include 18 allegations of rape.

Watch: The women who worked with Weinstein tell their stories. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC
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He is, however, currently facing court in New York for charges relating to just two of those women. The alleged rape of a girlfriend, who has not been named publicly, in 2013, and allegedly forcing production assistant Mimi Haleyi, then 22, to perform oral sex on him in 2006.

Gloria Allred Holds Press Conference With New Alleged Victim Of Harvey Weinstein
Mimi Haleyi (L) and Attorney Gloria Allred. Image: by Mike Coppola/Getty.

According to a Page Six report on December 15, The Weinstein Company had just reached a tentative AUD $36 million civil settlement with more than 30 accusers.

On Monday, Los Angeles prosecutors announced more criminal charges. Weinstein was charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013. The charges include rape, forced oral sex, and sexual battery by restraint. Neither has been identified publicly.

Among his long list of accusers are Hollywood actresses like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

Weinstein has denied any wrongdoing, and maintains that any sexual activity was consensual.

If he is found guilty of these charges, he could be facing life in prison.

Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd are just three of Weinstein's accusers. Image: Getty.
Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd are just three of Weinstein's accusers. Image: Getty.
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What is happening with Harvey Weinstein right now.

Weinstein's trial opened in New York on Monday, in dramatic fashion.

He was caught using his mobile phone as proceedings got underway, and the judge threatened to revoke his bail and jail him.

"Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting and violating a court order?" Judge James Burke asked, visibly angry.

He decided against that option, but warned Weinstein would not get another chance.

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The trial against Weinstein in New York got underway this week. Image: Getty.

Weinstein has been on a million-dollar bail since his arrest in May 2018, however in mid-December that was increased to five million over allegations he violated his bail conditions by mishandling his electronic ankle monitor.

The prosecution tried to get him jailed for the misdemeanour, but the judge rejected that call instead allowing him to meet his bail obligation by putting two million through a bail bondsman, reported NBC at the time.

Monday kicked off with jury selection, a process that could take two to three weeks. The trial itself is expected to last about six weeks, and is being touted as the biggest criminal trial (in terms of media attention) since OJ's murder trial in 1995.

Under New York law, the proceedings cannot be televised. But online and cable channel Court TV, which shot to fame with its coverage of the OJ trial, are running up-to-date coverage and analysis.

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A quick recap of Weinstein's demise and the rise of Me Too.

In October 2017, The New York Times and The New Yorker broke a story about sexual allegations against Weinstein they had been working on for months.

The journalists of both stories (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for the Times, and Ronan Farrow for New Yorker) have written books on their investigations, which give fascinating insights into the work it took to a point of being able to publish - something which proved difficult thanks to the hush money Weinstein had forced many of his accusers to take.

JOURNALISTS WEINSTEIN
Jodi, Megan and Ronan broke the story across two stories in separate publications in late 2017. Image: Getty.

But despite the difficulties, the journalists gathered more than a dozen women, willing to go on record to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and rape. A-listers Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd were among them

Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had "caused a lot of pain" but disputed the allegations before taking a leave of absence from The Weinstein Company, one of the most sought after film studios in America. The company, and Weinstein, were juggernauts in Hollywood and for many years, Weinstein was untouchable.

More stories were published as the allegations made global headlines, with Hollywood celebrities like Paltrow and Jolie adding their names into the mix.

Five days after the first story was published, Weinstein's wife Georgina Chapman announced she was leaving him. He was also stood down from his company's board and removed from the organisation behind voting for the Oscars.

US producer Harvey Weinstein
Georgina Chapman left Weinstein shortly after the allegations came to light. Image: Getty.
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The story and allegations sparked a wave of national reckoning dubbed the "Weinstein effect" which led to a global Me Too movement against sexual harassment and assault.

Millions of victims flooded social media with the hashtag #MeToo, with high profile names like Jennifer Lawrence and Uma Thurman joining dozens of celebrities and masses upon masses of ordinary people from all walks of life.

It turned into an international movement for justice, and resulted in a number of high profile men accused of sexual harassment and assault losing their jobs - from big, previously untouchable positions. Laws also changed in places like California and New York to better support victims, as a direct result of the uproar.

Me Too also led to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, aimed at helping survivors of sexual misconduct, especially in low-wage industries, get legal representation.

Since the fund launched in January 2018, it has raised over $24 million and connected 3,677 people with attorneys.

With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.

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