NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 100 potential jurors appeared in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday for the rape trial of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, including the model Gigi Hadid.
Weinstein's trial entered its second week when the judge and the lawyers in the case tried to select a panel of 12 impartial New Yorkers to decide their fate.
Hadid told Judge James Burke, who chairs the case, that he had met Weinstein before, as well as actress Salma Hayek, who can be called as a witness or mentioned during the trial. Despite this, Hadid said he could remain impartial.
"I think I can still keep an open mind about the facts," said Hadid, who as a Manhattan resident received a standard jury call.
Of the 120 possible jurors that appeared on Monday, dozens were excused after saying they could not be impartial, without giving a reason. Only 35 were asked to return to court on Thursday for the second jury selection phase, where they will be asked more detailed questions about their background.
More jurors will be selected in the first phase on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Weinstein, 67, pleaded not guilty to the charges of assaulting two women and faces life imprisonment if convicted of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. His trial began on January 6 and could last up to two months.
The former producer, who has been using a walker, attended Monday's session as he has done every day since the trial process began and briefly turned to greet potential jurors as a group.
Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused him of sexual misconduct that goes back decades. Weinstein has denied the accusations, saying that any sexual encounter he has had was agreed upon.
The accusations helped boost the #MeToo movement, in which women have made themselves public with accusations of misconduct against powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.
Weinstein, once one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, left his mark with critically acclaimed films such as "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love."
Burke said on Monday that 108 of the 360 potential jurors summoned last week passed the previous assessment and were expected to return on Thursday.
On January 6, when the trial began in New York, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced new charges of sexual assault against Weinstein.
Brendan Pierson report in New York; Edition of Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman
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