US prosecutors are set to begin presenting their rape case against Harvey Weinstein, with the once-powerful Hollywood producer facing life in prison if convicted, in a trial that has become a watershed moment for the MeToo movement.
Lawyers will make their opening statements on Wednesday to a jury of seven men and five women in a Manhattan courthouse.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault.
His trial began on January 6 and could last roughly six more weeks.
Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, fuelling the MeToo movement in which women have gone public with allegations against powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.
Weinstein, who reshaped the independent film industry with critically acclaimed pictures such as The English Patient and Shakespeare In Love, has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Justice James Burke told potential jurors last week that they must decide Weinstein's case based on the evidence and not make the trial "a referendum on the MeToo movement".
Prosecutors are expected to paint Weinstein as a serial predator who abused his power, while the defence is expected to try to show accusers' behaviour seems to contradict how victims would react to an assault.
One of the two main accusers in the Weinstein case, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, has said publicly that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his Manhattan home in 2006.
The other, who has not been identified, was raped by Weinstein in 2013, alleges the Manhattan District Attorney's office, which brought the case.
The prosecutors further allege that Weinstein raped another woman, actress Annabella Sciorra, in the 1990s.
Although that allegation is too old to be charged as a separate crime, it will be presented to help establish Weinstein's pattern of behaviour as part of the case for predatory sexual assault.
Prosecutors are expected to call up to three additional women, who are not mentioned in the charges, to bolster their case, according to court papers.
The state needs a unanimous jury to convict. A single hold-out would produce a hung jury, although that would not prevent prosecutors from trying Weinstein again.
Regardless of the outcome, Weinstein faces additional charges in California.
Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced on January 6 that Weinstein had been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in 2013.
Australian Associated Press