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Judge imposes $ 5 million bail on Harvey Weinstein 0:25
(CNN) - Shortly before the start of a criminal trial at the center of the #MeToo movement and a possible conviction that could send him to prison for decades, Harvey Weinstein addressed what has happened in the 26 months since the allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior against him they first came to light.
The highly anticipated rape trial against Weinstein begins Monday. The former film producer answered eight CNN questions via email.
"The last two years have been exhausting and have presented me with a great opportunity for self-reflection," Weinstein wrote. “Now I realize that I was consumed by my work, my company and my desire for success. This made me neglect my family, my relationships and lash out at the people around me. I have been in rehabilitation since October 2017, and participated in a 12-step program and meditation. I learned to give up my need for control. ”
Since the initial reports of The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse ranging from harassment to rape. He is accused of predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, rape in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
LOOK : A woman confronts Harvey Weinstein in a nightclub
The case against Weinstein focuses on an accusation that he raped a woman in a hotel room in New York in 2013, and a second woman who accused him of having had oral sex by force in her Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Other Weinstein accusers were allowed to take the position of witnesses throughout the trial to illustrate an alleged pattern of abusive behavior.
He has pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.
Weinstein declined to answer if he felt empathy for his accusers.
"While I have many empathic opinions regarding many people, I am following the advice of my lawyers on the eve of my trial so as not to offer any comments on that," he replied.
In a statement through Time's Up on Thursday, 25 women who filed complaints against Weinstein addressed the importance of their trial.
"This test is critical to show that predators everywhere will be responsible and that talking can generate real change," said his statement in part. "We refuse to be silenced and will continue talking until this abuser without regrets is brought to justice."
Harvey Weinstein in his most recent court appearance on December 11, 2019.
CNN spoke with Weinstein's criminal defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno, on Friday.
She said Weinstein would be "the first to say he did bad things," but he's not a criminal.
"He cheated on his wife, he was dishonest about it, he had several women he slept with at different times and he would say those were bad decisions," Rotunno said. “He has lost everything because of those bad decisions. No one is trying to claim that he is a saint and never did anything wrong ... I don't think Harvey is a rapist. ”
Weinstein also believes that the media has promoted the sensationalism of the accusations against him.
"The biggest misconceptions of the public come from the assumptions that have been made with the help of the media," he wrote. "That's all I can say about this for now."
Weinstein, who is recovering from back surgery last month, told CNN that he has been relying on his "family, friends and loved ones" before the trial "to help me overcome this."
Weinstein and his ex-wife, Georgina Chapman, divorced shortly after the accusations against him arose.
"My meditation and my focus on looking inward have helped me balance my emotions," Weinstein wrote. "The whole process has been overwhelming, but I'm working every day to stay level."
Although Weinstein maintains that his current focus is the upcoming criminal trial, he has contemplated how his life could be beyond that.
"I plan to focus on my children, my health and my rest," he said when asked what his plans were if he was not found guilty. "If I can do something positive to advance the causes I always defended, I hope to find a way to do it."
His old film studio, The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded in 2005 with his now estranged brother, Bob Weinstein, no longer exists. But he believes it is possible for him to rebuild a career in the film industry.
"It will take a little work to rebuild it," Weinstein wrote. "If I can do something good again and build places that help heal and comfort others, I intend to do it."
LOOK : The tentative agreement on the Weinstein case: end point?
Since the accusations against him were made public, Weinstein has been relatively reserved.
"I spend the vast majority of my free time working with my legal and communications teams," Weinstein replied. “I read several books a week about history, politics and fiction. My main objective has been to prove my innocence and clear my name. ”