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Harvey Weinstein addresses his pending criminal trial

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's lawyer says, 'We have a wealth of evidence in our arsenal to be able to say these cases don't rise to the level of rape.'

Posted: Jan 4, 2020 4:30 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2020 4:30 PM

Days away from the start of a criminal trial at the center of the #MeToo movement and a potential conviction that could send him to prison for decades, Harvey Weinstein is addressing the 26 months since the allegations of sexual misconduct against him were first brought to light.

The highly-anticipated rape trial against Weinstein begins Monday. The former film producer answered eight questions from CNN via email.

"The past two years have been grueling and have presented me with a great opportunity for self-reflection," Weinstein wrote. "I realize now that I was consumed with my work, my company and my drive for success. This caused me to neglect my family, my relationships and to lash out at the people around me. I have been in rehab since October 2017, and have been involved in a 12-step program and meditation. I have learned to give up my need for control."

Since initial bombshell reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse ranging from harassment to rape. He is charged with predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, first-degree rape and third-degree rape.

The case against Weinstein centers on an allegation that he raped a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013, and a second woman who accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.

Other Weinstein accusers will be permitted to take the stand as witnesses throughout the trial to illustrate an alleged pattern of abusive behavior.

He has pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Weinstein declined to answer if he felt empathy for his accusers.

"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," he responded.

In a statement through Time's Up on Thursday, 25 women who came forward with allegations against Weinstein addressed the significance of his trial.

"This trial is critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable and that speaking up can bring about real change," their statement read in part. "We refused to be silenced and will continue to speak out until this unrepentant abuser is brought to justice."

CNN spoke to Weinstein's criminal defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, on Friday.

She said Weinstein would be "the first one to say he did bad things," but he's not a criminal.

"He cheated on his wife, he was dishonest about that, he had multiple women he slept with at different points and he would say that those were bad choices," Rotunno said. "He's lost everything for those bad choices. Nobody is trying to claim that he is a saint and that he never did anything wrong ... I don't believe Harvey is a rapist."

Weinstein also believes that the media has sensationalized the allegations against him.

"The public's biggest misconceptions come from the assumptions that have been made through the help of media," he wrote. "That is also all I can say on this for now."

Weinstein, who is recovering from back surgery last month, told CNN he's been leaning on his "family, friends and loved ones" leading up to trial "to help me get through this."

Weinstein and his ex-wife, Georgina Chapman, divorced shortly after the allegations against him surfaced.

"My meditation and focus on looking inward has helped me balance my emotions," Weinstein wrote. "The whole process has been overwhelming, but I am working every day to stay level."

Although Weinstein maintains his current focus is the criminal trial ahead, he has contemplated what his life may look like beyond that.

"I plan to focus on my children, my health and rest," he said when asked his plans if found not guilty. "If I can do something positive to advance the causes that I had always championed, I hope to find a way to do so."

His former movie studio, The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded in 2005 with his now estranged brother, Bob Weinstein, is no more. But he believes it is possible for him to rebuild a career in the film industry.

"It will take a bit of work to build back to it," Weinstein wrote. "If I can get back to doing something good and building places that help heal and comfort others, I intend to do so."

Since the allegations against him became public, Weinstein has been relatively reclusive.

"I spend the vast majority of my free time working with my legal and communications teams," Weinstein responded. "I read several books a week on history, politics and fiction. My main focus has been proving my innocence and clearing my name."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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