(Bloomberg) -- Harvey Weinstein came closer to learning who will decide his fate as prosecutors and defense attorneys in his rape case settled on five of 12 jurors for a trial that will be seen as a capstone of the #MeToo movement -- even as the judge warned that’s not what it’s about.
Two African-American women, two white men and an African-American man were selected after more than two hours of questioning on Thursday.
“This trial is not a referendum on the Me Too movement,” New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke told a panel of more than 140 people in the prospective-jury pool after they were summoned to the courtroom in lower Manhattan for the selection process. “It is not a referendum on sexual harassment. It is not a referendum on women’s rights.”
Burke said it was fine to “feel strongly about those subjects” -- but not “if those beliefs would prevent you from deciding the facts on the case.”
Prosecutors and defense lawyers, together with Burke, have spent days narrowing the field from about 500 Manhattanites summoned last week. By Thursday they were down to fewer than 150 and began questioning them individually to settle on 12 plus six alternates.
The judge reminded the potential jurors called to the 15th-floor courtroom that they were there only to determine whether the fallen movie mogul, who has been accused of harassment or abuse by more than 80 women, was guilty of the charges against him involving just two.
“The sole issue is for you to decide whether or not the defendant committed certain acts which constitute a particular crime, and decide whether or not the facts have been proven,” Burke said.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with rape and predatory sexual assault for allegedly raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on another in 2006 in his apartment in the city.
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