Opening statements in the sex crimes trial of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein are set to begin on Wednesday, kicking off a new phase of the highest-profile #MeToo case to go before a criminal court jury.
The allegations to be presented to the 12 jurors in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan are based on the accounts of one woman who says Weinstein raped her in 2013 and another who accuses him of forcibly performing oral sex on her in 2006.
The two accusers are set to take the stand during the trial, as well as several other women who say Weinstein assaulted them, as prosecutors seek to highlight a pattern of sexual abuse.
The former movie producer’s lawyers are expected to try and undermine the accusers’ credibility by arguing that they engaged in consensual sexual activity to further their careers.
All 12 jurors must agree if Weinstein is to be convicted, in which case the 67-year-old could face life in prison.
The first two weeks of the trial, which began on January 6, were focused on selecting jurors from a pool of more than 600 people. Many were dismissed after saying they could not be impartial.
During the selection process, prosecutors accused the defence of deliberately attempting to keep young women off the panel. Seven of the 12 jurors selected are men.
The trial comes more than two years since US media detailed numerous allegations against Weinstein, triggering a cascade of accusations against other powerful men and the spread of the #MeToo movement.
Since then, more than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct. Weinstein, who has cut a frail figure as he uses a metal walker to enter the courtroom, denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.