Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET
Editor’s note: This report includes descriptions of sexual assault.
This was never inevitable.
For much of Harvey Weinstein’s career, dark rumors of sexual assault and harassment tailed the Hollywood mega-producer. But they were rarely spoken with much volume. Only in recent years did the allegations gather the heft and momentum that culminated in this: a teeming courtroom in Manhattan where, in a matter of weeks, a judge might send Weinstein to prison for the rest of his life.
Opening statements start Wednesday in Weinstein’s criminal trial. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to the multiple sexual assault and rape charges he faces in New York state, and he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, casting these encounters as entirely consensual.
So what led to this?
While scores of women have accused Weinstein of crimes dating back decades — ranging from intimidation to rape — this timeline focuses on the incidents cited in criminal cases against him in Manhattan and, more recently, in Los Angeles, and the swell of popular momentum that helped drive prosecutors to press charges.
The actress, perhaps best known for her Emmy-nominated work on The Sopranos, says Weinstein raped her at her Manhattan apartment after an industry dinner. She says the producer dropped her off, only to reappear at her door and force his way inside.
Sciorra’s allegation went on to become the subject of pretrial arguments in Manhattan. While the alleged incident is too old to be prosecuted under state law, and while the defense team objected to its inclusion in the trial, her testimony will be heard anyway, in support of the charge of predatory sexual assault.
The former aspiring actress told The New Yorker — in one of a pair of major stories that trained a national spotlight on the allegations — that Weinstein raped her in his office in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.
“He forced me to perform oral sex on him,” Evans said, adding: “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t.’ I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.”
Her account led prosecutors to pursue a criminal sexual act charge against Weinstein, although it was dismissed in 2018. (More explanation on that later.)
Haleyi, a former production assistant at Weinstein’s now-bankrupt production company, says that after inviting her to his New York City home, the producer ignored her objections, pulled out her tampon and forcibly performed oral sex on her.
“No woman should have to be subjected to this type of unacceptable abuse,” she said in 2017. “Women have the right to say no. A ‘no’ is a ‘no,’ regardless of the circumstances — and I told Harvey no.”
Haleyi’s claim was included in a second round of charges against Weinstein.
Few details have been formally released as yet about these alleged incidents, which recently prompted Los Angeles prosecutors to file four charges against Weinstein: one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.
“On Feb. 18, 2013, Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel and raped a woman after pushing his way inside her room,” the office of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey explained in early January. “The next evening, the defendant is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.”
March 18, 2013: Alleged rape in New York City
For a long time, even fewer details had been released about this allegation, which prompted two of the charges against Weinstein: first- and third-degree rape. Indeed, it was not until the trial’s opening statements that prosecutors released the name of the alleged victim, Jessica Mann, and the details of her story.
Prosecutors said Mann, an aspiring actress, had attended several industry events with Weinstein and endured increasingly aggressive sexual advances — including one incident in which, similar to Haleyi, Mann says Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her.
But it was later, on March 18 — one month after the alleged incidents in LA — that Mann says she tried to confront Weinstein at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan. There, he allegedly coaxed her up to his room, forced her to disrobe and ordered her onto the bed.
“He got on top of her and he raped her, forcing his penis into her vagina,” Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast told jurors on Wednesday. “Jessica just laid there. When he finished, he got off of her.”
March 2015: New York DA decides not to prosecute allegation
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a Filipina-Italian model, reported Weinstein to the New York Police Department for allegedly groping her during a meeting at his Tribeca office. She says that later, at the urging of police, she wore a recording device for an arranged meetup at a Manhattan hotel and that Weinstein admitted that he groped her and sought unsuccessfully to get her to come to his room.
Ultimately, however, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided not to pursue the case, saying at the time that “a criminal charge is not supported.”
Years later, after the publication of a New Yorker piece detailing Gutierrez’s allegations, her story would become a focus of intense criticism leveled at Vance, whose office is now responsible for prosecuting the criminal trial. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo requested a review of the DA’s decision in 2015, though it’s not clear whether that was ever completed.
Oct. 5, 2017: The New York Times publishes allegations
While rumors of sexual harassment and assault had long dogged Weinstein — even supplying punchlines at the Oscars — but it wasn’t until the Times and The New Yorker published exposés that the allegations found serious traction.
The Times’ story, written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, focused on allegations by a series of assistants and actresses, such as Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
Weinstein, in a statement released that same day, pledged to take a leave of absence and acknowledged that “I have a long way to go.”
“I so respect all women and regret what happened,” he said, without admitting wrongdoing.
Published just days after the Times article, journalist Ronan Farrow’s piece in the New Yorker focused on a slew of other accusations — including the allegation by Lucia Evans that had been included in and but was later dropped from the list of criminal charges Weinstein faces in New York.
Oct. 14, 2017: Weinstein is expelled from the Academy
In one of the first signs that the reaction to the Times and New Yorker reports represented a sea change, complete with real-world implications for Weinstein, the Hollywood producer is expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the influential organization responsible for the Oscars.
“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues,” the academy’s 54-member Board of Governors explained in a statement after an emergency meeting, “but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”
March 19, 2018: The Weinstein Company files for bankruptcy
Buffeted by months of negative press, the production company that Weinstein founded with his brother, Bob, goes belly up. The company declares bankruptcy and sells “substantially all” of its assets to Lantern Capital Partners, and it also voids the nondisclosure agreements it had reached with Weinstein’s accusers.
May 25, 2018: Weinstein surrenders to police
The former producer arrives at the New York Police Department’s 1st Precinct in Lower Manhattan, where he submits to arrest with droves of journalists looking on. It is Weinstein’s first arrest in connection with the sexual assault allegations.
The same day, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. submits Weinstein’s initial slate of charges: “The defendant is charged with Rape in the First and Third Degrees, as well as Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, for forcible sexual acts against two women in 2013 and 2004, respectively.”
About a week and a half later, Weinstein pleads not guilty to the charges, which will later change significantly as new information comes to light.
July 2, 2018: Additional charges against Weinstein announced
Manhattan DA Vance announces the filing of a superseding grand jury indictment, which adds charges connected with a third incident in 2006. The new slate includes one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and two counts of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge levied against Weinstein by New York City prosecutors.
Mimi Haleyi, who was involved in the alleged 2006 incident, had come forward with her story more than half a year earlier, saying that during her time working at The Weinstein Company, Weinstein orally forced himself on her in his New York City home.
Weinstein pleads not guilty to the new charges a week after they are announced.
Justice James Burke, the judge overseeing the Manhattan trial, dismissed one of the charges against the producer after it came to light that investigators didn’t properly present certain information to the grand jury.
Lucia Evans told the grand jury — and the New Yorker — that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him. But an unidentified friend of hers had contradicted that account in an interview with a detective, saying Evans called it a consensual act in exchange for the promise of acting work.
Prosecutors acknowledged later that the detective “failed to inform” them of “important details” of the interview prior to Evans’ grand jury testimony. Weinstein’s legal team pushed to have the criminal sexual act charge dismissed as a result, and prosecutors did not object.
Dec. 11, 2019: The Weinstein Company strikes tentative deal with alleged victims
Weinstein and his now-bankrupt production company reach a tentative $47 million settlement to discharge their financial obligations. The deal contains $25 million earmarked for Weinstein’s alleged victims, including more than 30 actresses and former employees. It does not, however, require an admission of wrongdoing or any personal payments from Weinstein.
It is not a done deal, though: A judge still needs to sign off on the agreement for it to become final. And previous attempts have fallen through.
Jan. 6, 2020: Trial in New York City begins
Weinstein’s trial formally opens in Manhattan, with more than two weeks devoted to selecting a jury. After roughly a year and a half of pretrial wrangling, the charges Weinstein faces are as follows:
- Two counts of predatory sexual assault
- One count of rape in the first degree (connected to the 2013 incident)
- One count of rape in the third degree (2013 incident)
- One count of criminal sexual act in the first degree (2006 incident)
Jan. 6, 2020: Los Angeles prosecutors announce charges of their own
The same day that his trial opens in Manhattan, Weinstein is hit with new legal woes from the other side of the U.S.: four felony counts of sexual assault, filed by Los Angeles County District Attorney Lacey. The charges are connected with incidents that allegedly happened at local hotels over two nights in February 2013.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims,” Lacey says, “and then commit violent crimes against them.”