Ahead of trial, disgraced Hollywood mogul Weinstein is dreaming about a comeback
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Ahead of trial, disgraced Hollywood mogul Weinstein is dreaming about a comeback

Former producer facing raft of rape and sexual assault charges admits return to industry, if cleared, would ‘take a bit of work’; prominent accusers speak out ahead of court date

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court following a bail hearing on December 6, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court following a bail hearing on December 6, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein believes he can make a comeback in the film industry if he is cleared of the rape and sexual assault charges against him, according to a Saturday report.

In an email exchange with CNN, Weinstein said that since the bombshell reports of his sexual crimes first came out in 2017, sparking the #MeToo movement, he has a “a great opportunity for self-reflection.”

On his career prospects, he said: “It will take a bit of work to build back to it.”

“If I can get back to doing something good and building places that help heal and comfort others, I intend to do so,” he wrote. “If I can do something positive to advance the causes that I had always championed, I hope to find a way to do so.”

Prosecutors in New York have filed five criminal charges against Weinstein, including two counts of predatory sexual assault that carry a mandatory life sentence. He goes on trial next week.

Weinstein, 67, has denied allegations of non-consensual sex and his lawyer has promised a vigorous defense. Jury selection is expected to begin on Monday.

The once all-powerful Hollywood producer’s world came crashing down when parallel investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker documented alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein against dozens of women. From Oscar-winning stars to aspiring actresses to associates, claims of sexual harassment, assault and even rape were leveled against him.

Two of Weinstein’s accusers, Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette, addressed the upcoming trial in separate interviews with The Associated Press on Friday.

McGowan said she doesn’t plan to be in the courtroom, saying the trauma the fallen Hollywood mogul caused her is so great she couldn’t bear the pain of it.

Rose McGowan poses for a portrait in New York on January 3, 2020. (Matt Licari/Invision/AP)

But Arquette has already made plans to be there when it starts, to lend support to the women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault and plan to testify against him.

“I feel very protective. I want this to be OK,” Arquette said. “I think either way, whatever happens, it’s still going to be hard for the people that came forward, in terms of retaliation. He’s all about that.”

McGowan has accused Weinstein of raping her over 20 years ago and destroying her career; Weinstein has denied her claims. A representative for Weinstein sent a link to McGowan’s remarks on Iran and said his team was declining comment.

Since the allegations against Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement, McGowan has emerged as a vigorous advocate for sexual assault victims. Though she told the AP in 2018 she would be at any trial, McGowan now says while she might be outside the courtroom when it starts, she couldn’t imagine being on the inside.

“I also have to focus on what’s healthy mentally for me and seeing him is extremely difficult,” she said. “You know, I had body flashbacks for years when I would see and receive photos of him or if I saw him in person, I would lean over and throw up in a trash can and my body remembered, you know, things that my brain wanted to silence.”

McGowan said seeing Weinstein face criminal charges “will speak volumes to people in the world that have been hurt. And I hope it gets justice for the women involved. Personally, I have justice. My justice might just look different than that.”

She added that if Weinstein is found guilty of even one charge, “it’s a victory, but it’s also a victory to still be standing after all this damn time. It’s also a victory to spread the news to other survivors, that is not our shame. It’s also a victory to basically have him as the face of rape for all time.”

Arquette has accused Weinstein of derailing her career after she resisted her advances, and was one of first women to come forward and tell her story in 2017 (Weinstein has also denied retaliating against women who refused to have sex with him). She told the AP she never thought she would see the day that he would face a trial for his alleged crimes.

Rosanna Arquette poses for a portrait, January 3, 2020, in New York. (Matt Licari/Invision/AP)

Arquette was emotional as she talked about his upcoming trial and what it represented.

“This is a man that is a real predator,” she said. “He’s destroyed many women’s lives… We need to keep the focus on this crime, and this case with Harvey Weinstein is huge because so many people are looking at it.”

Arquette is close friends with one of the women expected to testify against Weinstein: actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused Weinstein of raping her more than two decades ago. Although Weinstein is not charged with a crime connected with that allegation, prosecutors are hoping to establish a pattern of behavior with her testimony.

Arquette is hoping the testimony of Sciorra and others will lead to an eventual conviction against Weinstein. She said Sciorra’s life was “shattered by this experience for many years.”

Said Arquette: “The justice system works in a way … people can get out of criminal behavior, and we’re praying that that doesn’t happen and that there’s justice is served.”

When asked by CNN if he felt empathy for his accusers, Weinstein wrote: “While I do have many empathetic opinions regarding many people, I am following the advice of my lawyers on the eve of my trial to not offer any commentary on this.”

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