NEW YORK, Jan 17 — Seven jurors were picked for fallen film producer Harvey Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault trial yesterday as model Gigi Hadid was excused from serving owing to her fame.
The prosecution and defence agreed on more than half of the 12 jurors that will decide Weinstein’s fate in the high-profile proceedings key to the #MeToo movement.
The defence team struck out several young women as the attorneys try to approve jurors whom they think may be more sympathetic to their side of the case.
Prosecutors and Weinstein’s legal team also need to pick six alternates for the New York trial that is expected to run until March 6.
“This trial is not a referendum on the #MeToo movement,” Judge James Burke told potential jurors yesterday.
“You must decide this case on the evidence,” he added.
Hadid, 24, was greeted by a crowd of photographers as she strolled into the Manhattan court wearing sunglasses just before 09.00am (1400 GMT) on the eighth day of jury selection.
She left discreetly about ten minutes afterwards, according to police officers outside.
US media reported that the prosecution and defence had agreed to dismiss the famous model and Instagram star.
Hadid, who has modelled for top fashion brands including Chanel, first appeared for the pre-screening of potential jurors on Monday, adding a fresh celebrity twist to the trial.
She told Burke that although she knew Weinstein — and actress Salma Hayek, who accused the disgraced movie mogul of sexual assault — she could still be fair and impartial.
Hadid was asked to fill out a questionnaire before being told to return for yesterday’s next round of screening.
Weinstein, 67, has been accused of sexual assault by more than 80 women, including Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow, since accusations against him ignited the #MeToo movement in October 2017.
But he is being tried on charges related to just two. He faces life in prison if found guilty of predatory sexual assault.
Intense media coverage of the proceedings has made jury selection an exhausting process.
Prosecutors and defence attorneys have questioned around 700 candidates as they try to weed out people who have already made up their minds.
The legal teams will return to court today to continue jury selection.
Opening arguments are expected to begin on January 22. — AFP