Entertainment

A Jury Has Finally Been Selected For The Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial And Gigi Hadid Is Out

After more than 100 women accused him of varying degrees of sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial is now underway. The jury selection process began almost two weeks ago in New York State Supreme Court, where a diverse pool of prospective jurors gathered, ready for the opportunity to participate in one of the most intense legal battles of the #MeToo movement. However, the process of selecting an impartial jury proved difficult—while 120 prospective jurors showed up that first day, many people admitted an inability to remain unbiased, which ultimately disqualified them from participating in the trial. This pattern continued the following day, when 47 of the additional 120 prospective jurors were dismissed for the same reason.

This past week, one of the people dismissed was supermodel Gigi Hadid. Hadid claimed that she could be fair and impartial if selected as a juror, but her involvement in the Hollywood social scene gave Judge James Burke pause.

Credit: Jim Haffrey / Associated Press

According to a pool reporter inside the Manhattan courtroom, Burke read a list of potential witnesses, asking the potential jurors to speak up if they knew anyone on the list. Hadid raised her hand and said, “I have met Salma Hayek.” She also affirmed that she had met Weinstein before.

“I think I’m still able to keep an open mind on the facts,” she said. But Burke was not convinced, and dismissed her from the selection pool.

Although Weinstein has been accused of harassing scores of women, the trial addresses just five charges from two accusers. The charges include predatory sexual assault, rape, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Yet Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, and he maintains that all of the sexual encounters in question were consensual.

The trial is estimated to last until March, with two weeks of jury selection and eight weeks of arguments and testimony—all before actual deliberations are due to start.

Credit: Associated Press / Mark Lennihan

According to Weinstein’s attorney, Donna Rotunno, one of the major challenges with securing a jury was finding people who are able to commit to such an extensive trial. Weinstein’s defense team has also expressed concern with a perceived inability to locate impartial jurors in New York City—as a metropolitan area heavily tuned in to the media, Weinstein’s team feared that most prospective jurors have been following the case and forming opinions about Weinstein’s misconduct since it was first brought to light in 2017. According to CNN, Weinstein’s team made multiple attempts to move the trial to different cities in New York, where the likelihood of locating unbiased jurors might be higher.

On January 16, seven jurors—four men and three women—were seated. But that day, prosecutors accused Weinstein’s team of deliberately eliminating young white women from the pool of prospective jurors, as Weinstein’s lawyers had used half of their peremptory challenges to excuse prospective white women jurors who were not dismissed for bias or previously deemed unfit by prosecutors.

Why is this important, you may ask? Well, first of all, it’s illegal to use peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

Second of all, while lead prosecutor Joan Illuzi did not clarify why a lack of white women jurors would be problematic for the prosecution, legal experts said that the defense seemed to assume that jurors of this demographic were especially likely to sympathize with Weinstein’s accusers. So, the idea is that the defense tried to limit jurors of this kind in a strategic attempt to prevent even subconscious opposition to Weinstein during the trial.

Yet defense lawyers dismissed this accusation, citing specific reasons for rejecting each individual white woman and claiming that the remaining white female jurors’ responses to a questionnaire ultimately deemed them unfit to sit on the jury.

Rotunno said that the responses to the questionnaire that aimed to determine whether prospective jurors had experienced sexual assault (or knew someone who had) ultimately determined who would be a viable, unbiased candidate for jury selection, and that the defense’s resistance to seating certain individuals “had nothing to do with race or sex.” But due to the high number of women—regardless of race—who have experienced sexual violence, this stipulation largely diminished the number of women deemed fit for consideration at all. On the first day of jury selection alone, roughly 30% of the 120 prospective jurors stepped down for bias linked to personal experiences of sexual assault.

Ultimately, the final 12-person jury is comprised of six white men, one black man, two white women, and three black women. The alternate jurors, who will only serve if one of the first 12 jurors must withdraw, include a white man, a Latina woman and a black woman.

You Can Still Watch Kobe And Gianna Bryant’s Tearful Memorial Service

Entertainment

You Can Still Watch Kobe And Gianna Bryant’s Tearful Memorial Service

CNN / Twitter

It was a sad and reflective day at the Staples Center today as fans and friends of the late basketball player Kobe Bryant gathered to celebrate his life as well as that of his daughter Gianna Bryant. The memorial held in their honor saw guests speak about their lives, passion for the game of basketball and love for the people they left behind.

Here’s a look at the top most emotional moments from the memorial today.

Christina Aguilera’s “Ave Maria” performance

The six-time Grammy Award-winning singer Christina Aguilera took the stage at Staples to perform “Ave Maria” for Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service.

Shaq reflected on his rivalry with Kobe.

Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant’s long time competitor, opened up about life as his teammate.

“We fought and we bantered back and forth with offhanded remarks, but make no mistakes, and you folks thought we were on bad terms, and when the cameras were turned off we would wink at each other and said, ‘let’s go whip some ass.'”

O’Neil also shared a sweet anecdote about their relationship as teammates. “Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and love with one another. The day Kobe gained my respect was when the guys were complaining, and they said, Kobe’s not passing the ball. I said I will talk to him. I said, Kobe, there’s no “I” in team, and he said, I know, but there’s a “Me” in that m**********r.” Shaq recalled he returned back to his other teammates and said “Just get the rebound, he’s not passing.”26 min ago

Michael Jordan described Kobe’s death saying “a piece of me died.”

Michael Jordan had long been attributed to being Kobe Bryant’s inspiration for his successful basketball careers. Speaking about learning about Bryant’s death, Jordan said “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died.”

Kobe’s wife Vanessa brought the stadium to tears with her speech.

Though Kobe’s wife Vanessa gave her speech early on during the memorial, her’s was by far the most sentimental and emotional. Speaking about her daughter Giana, Vanessa recalled how she was “very thoughtful and always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri, and i thought she had left to school without saying goodbye. I text and say, ‘No kiss?’ And Gianna would reply with, ‘Mama, I kissed you. You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.’ She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, and she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama, and she would always show me and tell me that she loved me. She was one of my very best friends.”

Speaking about her husband Kobe, Vanessa recalled how “A couple weeks before they passed Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together, just the two of us, without our kids, because I am his best friend first. We never got the chance to do it. We were busy taking care of our girls and just doing our regular everyday responsibilities. But I’m thankful I have that recent text. It means so much to me. Kobe wanted us to renew our vows. He wanted Natalia to take over his company and he wanted to travel the world together. We talked about how we would be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children. He would have been the coolest grandpa..”

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

Things That Matter

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

John Piekos / Flickr

Hackers attempted to steal $4 million from the Puerto Rican government using a common phishing scam. The scams referred to as business email compromises, target public and private entities every year on the U.S. mainland. Here’s what we know so far.

A hacker attempted to steal millions of dollars from the Puerto Rican government.

Credit: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

According to reports, hackers were able to infiltrate various agencies in the Puerto Rican government through phishing emails. The hackers attempted to access $4 million dollars by targeting Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company and the Tourism Company.

The Industrial Development Company sent around $2.6 million while the Tourism Company wired over $1.5 million. According to the AP, the agencies received emails from a fraudulent employee claiming there was a change of bank accounts.

Federal officials say they were about to freeze the money to prevent loss to Puerto Rico.

David Begnaud of CBS News took to Twitter to update people on the latest developments. According to Begnaud’s conversation with federal authorities, the hackers had not received the money from Puerto Rico and they were able to freeze it. They are working to send the money back to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is not the only victim in a phishing crime. During the same time as the hacking of Puerto Rico, a school district in Manor, Texas lost $2.3 million and another $800,000 were stolen from officials in Griffin, Georgia. More than 23,000 of these scams stole $1.7 billion from businesses and agencies in the U.S. mainland last year. The FBI was able to recover around $300 million.

The news is surprising people on social media.

Credit: @MilagsCon / Twitter

Corruption in Puerto Rico’s government has been a topic of discussion since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rico was recently devastated by a series of earthquakes while still recovering from the 2017 hurricane that devastated the island. Missing relief funds and misplaced supplies have angered Puerto Ricans in recent months as it comes to light.

This latest financial and security shortcoming of Puerto Rico’s government is not helping its reputation.

Credit: @J_Fort47 / Twitter

Puerto Ricans have been showing their displeasure with the elected officials on the island for years. Recently, Puerto Ricans protested and marched until Ricardo Rosselló resigned from his office. The former governor was caught in a group chat scandal in which he made derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community and women. There were also allegations of corruption and misuse of funds within his admi9nistration that led to a series of investigations.

READ: The Puerto Rico Department of Justice Is Seeking An Independent Investigation Into Ricardo Rosselló