Disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein has been confronted by several of his famous accusers outside court on the first day of his rape trial.
There were lights, cameras and lots of action around Harvey Weinstein today but this time it wasn't for the world premiere of his latest star-studded blockbuster.
Instead, a handful of Hollywood celebrities and a huge contingent of international media, gathered outside a New York court to see the disgraced film producer make a grand entrance of a different kind; sans the red carpet.
Weinstein, 67, used a walking frame to hobble into Manhattan's State Supreme Court on Monday for the first day of his trial in which he faces sexual assault and rape charges against two women. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The focus for the next two weeks will be on jury selection before testimonies and evidence are presented to the court. If convicted on charges of predatory sexual assault, the once-mighty mogul could be jailed for life.
Weinstein is accused of raping one unnamed woman in a New York hotel in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
In total, he faces five charges — one of a criminal sexual act in the first degree, two of predatory sexual assault and one each of rape in the first and third degree.
Weinstein once wielded so much power in Tinseltown that at the height of his success Meryl Streep described him as "God". But the disgraced film executive is arguably now best known for his downfall which sparked the global #MeToo movement and is more commonly referred to by Hollywood's elite in less flattering terms.
Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette – two of Weinstein's most prominent accusers – gathered outside court today in a show of solidarity along with other women who say they were also assaulted by Weinstein. But Weinstein didn't engage with the women - some of whom shouted at him - or "make eye contact" as he walked past a group of them on his way into court, according to them.
Arquette, 60, who says she went to a hotel to get a script from Weinstein in the 1990s when he answered the door in his dressing gown and pulled her hand toward his crotch, described him today as "a very broken man".
"We weren't screaming we just wanted to face him … he avoided us," she told reporters.
McGowan, 46, who accused Weinstein of raping her when she was 23 and later reached a $US100,000 ($AU143,000) settlement with him, was sceptical about the authenticity of his feeble appearance.
"I think he's taken some good acting tips," she told reporters.
In total, more than 80 women have accused the father-of-five of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Most of the accusers, who refer to themselves as "the Silence Breakers", aren't involved in his prosecution. But of them share similar stories and have their hopes pinned on an eventual guilty verdict.
'SILENCE IS A DEATH SENTENCE TO YOUR SOUL'
McGowan, who accused Weinstein of raping her when she was 23 and later reached a $US100,000 ($AU143,000) settlement with him, said she has found her voice by speaking out against him for the sake of justice.
"I've expelled most of my rage which is great," the Scream actress said.
"Living in silence is a death sentence to your soul.
"Because when you get killed by being raped you carry around that dead person inside of you until you can find a way to birth it.
"And for me birthing that was through using my voice … today I can be free."
In the US, less than one per cent of rape trials end up in felony convictions, according to the Department of Justice. So what if Weinstein is acquitted?
"That would be an awesome day … just kidding," McGowan told news.com.au.
Television journalist Lauren Sivan alleged that more than a decade ago Weinstein cornered her in the hallway of a New York restaurant and proceeded to masturbate in front of her by a potted plant. Ms Sivan said that if Weinstein is acquitted and rebuilds his career it would be "like a paedophile … go (ing) back to coaching little league".
"This is a dangerous predator," she told news.com.au.
"Even if he is acquitted in this trial, let's hope that he's never able to go back to what he was doing."
NIGHTMARES OF 'REVOLTING FLESH '
Weinstein turned himself in to police in May 2018, but his downfall began in October 2017 when the New York Times published a story detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment by him.
Actress Ashley Judd was among those to come forward, as were several former female employees.
The accusations included that he forced some of the women to massage him or look at him naked, for promises of career advancement.
Days after the New York Times piece, another bombshell story, in the New Yorker magazine, included allegations by 13 more women — including three accusations of rape.
Actress Asia Argento, as well as once-aspiring actress Lucia Evans, and an unnamed woman, claimed Weinstein forced himself on them.
Evans' claim that she was forced into a sex act after going to his office for a supposed casting meeting, aged 21, had been part of the criminal case against him but was controversially dropped after prosecutors said she gave a witness a different version of events.
Hollywood reeled as more stars then came forward, one after another, with horrifying stories about Weinstein, prompting his British fashion designer wife Georgina Chapman to leave him.
Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra accused him of forcing his way into her flat and raping her in 1993. The alleged incident was too long ago to lead to criminal charges but the judge has allowed the claimant to testify in the upcoming trial.
Other big names who have come forward with sexual misconduct stories about Weinstein include Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Daryl Hannah, Salma Hayek, Heather Graham and Uma Thurman.
A-listers Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also said they were harassed.
British stars Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckinsale and Lena Headey told of creepy hotel encounters and The Sun revealed how Weinstein allegedly propositioned Myleene Klass with a "sex contract" at the Cannes film festival in the South of France in 2010.
Hollyoaks actress Lysette Anthony said Weinstein raped her in her London home in the 1980s — and in a recent TV interview she said: "I still have nightmares of white, revolting flesh, and skin with pores like bloody black volcanoes stuffed with crusty pus."
Recounting sleazy propositions from Weinstein, 12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong'o recalled how, after she rejected his advances and asked if they were then "good", he replied: "I don't know about your career, but you'll be fine."
As the allegations stacked up, Hollywood royalty including Quentin Tarantino, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and George Clooney deserted and condemned Weinstein.
Weinstein has denied all claims of non-consensual sex made against him.
His representative, Juda Engelmayer, said: "He's cautiously optimistic but anxious. You're looking at something that could put him away for the rest of his life, away from children and family."
Gloria Allred, a lawyer for Haleyi and Sciorra, said it was not unusual that the New York case, to be heard at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, is focusing on a small number of allegations.
"Most criminal cases don't include everyone and anyone who may make an accusation," she told The Sun.
"Prosecutors are very, very cautious. They are more conservative about filing against powerful, famous or infamous men because they know there will be extra scrutiny and they know powerful figures have very significant money to spend on their defence and investigators."
Last month, it emerged that Weinstein was on the verge of reaching a $34 million settlement with more than 30 actresses and ex-employees.
But news of the deal sparked outrage — as the payout would have come from insurers for the Weinstein film company.
One accuser involved in the settlement, model Zoe Brock, 45, said: "It's a joke and signifies a broken system."
After news of the deal emerged, Polish ex-model Kaja Sokola, 33, filed a lawsuit accusing Weinstein of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
She said the proposed settlement was not "fair or just". Weinstein called her claim "preposterous".
Weinstein, whose bail was recently doubled over claims he tampered with his ankle monitor, recently broke his silence to claim he should be praised for his treatment of women.
Speaking from a swish hospital suite in New York after a back operation he needed following an August car crash, he said: "I feel like the forgotten man."
"I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I'm talking about 30 years ago. I did it first. I pioneered it."
He was hitting back after claims he faked his recent aliments to win sympathy.
But he refused to talk about his trial. Instead, he said alleged victim Gwyneth Paltrow became the top-paid female actor in an independent film thanks to him, and touted his charity work and "social-justice" films he made.