Lawyers in Harvey Weinstein’s New York rape trial finished selecting 12 jurors on Friday to decide the former Hollywood producer’s fate, as prosecutors renewed an accusation that the defense had unfairly tried to block white women from serving on the jury.
The jury, comprised of six white men, three black women, one black man and two white women, is set to hear opening arguments next week.
Weinstein, the 67-year-old producer of Hollywood hits such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love”, has pleaded not guilty to assaulting two women. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Since 2017 more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades. He denies the allegations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.
The accusations against him helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which women have publicly accused powerful men in several industries of sexual abuse.
Lawyers seated two white female jurors on Friday after Weinstein’s defense team had exhausted their opportunity to eliminate potential jurors who did not exhibit explicit bias against the defendant or otherwise seem unfit to serve.
Three legal experts said the defense appeared to assume white women would be more likely to sympathize with Weinstein’s accusers.
Weinstein is charged with assaulting two women, Mimi Haleyi, who is white, and an anonymous accuser whose race is unknown. At least one other white female accuser, U.S. actress Annabella Sciorra, is expected to testify.
“It looks like their thought process is that a white woman would have more of an affinity to the victims,” said Michael Bachner, a defense lawyer who is not involved in the case.