NEW YORK (Reuters) – Dozens of potential jurors showed up on Monday in a Manhattan courtroom for the rape trial of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, including model Gigi Hadid.
The Weinstein trial entered its second week as the judge and lawyers in the case sought to select a panel of 12 impartial New Yorkers to decide his fate.
Hadid told Justice James Burke, who is presiding over the case, she had met Weinstein before, as well as actress Salma Hayek, who may be called as a witness or be mentioned during the trial. Despite this, Hadid said she could remain impartial.
“I think I’m still able to keep an open mind on the facts,” Hadid said.
Dozens of other potential jurors were excused after saying they could not be impartial, without providing a reason.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women, and faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. His trial began Jan. 6 and could last up to two months.
Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused him of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Weinstein has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
The allegations helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which women have gone public with misconduct allegations against powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.
Weinstein, once one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, made his mark with critically acclaimed films such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
Jury selection in Weinstein’s case is in its first phase, with potential jurors being pre-screened for possible bias. A more intensive phase is expected to begin on Thursday in which lawyers will ask more detailed questions about jurors’ backgrounds.
Burke said on Monday that 108 out of 360 potential jurors summoned last week passed pre-screening.
Friday’s jury selection proceedings were punctuated by a protest, with about 100 women carrying pots and pans dancing across the street from the courthouse.
“The rapist is you. Patriarchy is our judge,” the women chanted, first in English and then in Spanish. The chants were heard in the 15th floor courtroom, prompting Weinstein’s lawyers to ask that all the potential jurors present be dismissed.
Burke denied the request, noting that he expected the protest would not be the last.
On Jan. 6, as the New York trial began, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced new sexual assault charges against Weinstein.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool and Bill Berkrot