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Opening arguments have begun in Jonathan Majors trial

Jonathan Majors faces misdemeanor charges of harassment and assaulting a former girlfriend. He's shown above in Los Angeles in October 2021.
Rich Fury
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Getty Images
Jonathan Majors faces misdemeanor charges of harassment and assaulting a former girlfriend. He's shown above in Los Angeles in October 2021.

Updated December 4, 2023 at 4:21 PM ET

This story was updated on Monday at 4:20 p.m. ET.

Opening statements began Monday in the criminal trial of actor Jonathan Majors. The Creed III star faces misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment after an alleged altercation in New York City with his former girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, a London-based movement coach with whom he had worked on a film.

The trial has been delayed for months, but last Thursday, a jury of three men and three women were finally selected, with two alternates. Majors, whose Hollywood stardom has dimmed since the incident in March but who is still slated to star in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film in 2026, arrived in the Manhattan court again on Monday with his customary Bible in hand. His current girlfriend, actress Meagan Goode, has also been accompanying him to court.

Jonathan Majors arrives at court for a jury selection on his domestic violence case, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in New York.
Yuki Iwamura / AP
/
AP
Jonathan Majors arrives at court for a jury selection on his domestic violence case, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in New York.

In opening arguments Monday, prosecutor Michael Perez asserted that Majors used physical violence to manipulate, control, and injure Jabbari — and that Majors became abusive towards Jabbari shortly after their relationship began on the set of another Marvel movie in 2021.

By contrast, Majors' lawyer, Priya Chaudhury, has worked to discredit Majors' accuser, calling Jabbari "a liar" and asserting that in fact, she was the abuser. In her opening argument Monday, Chaudhury claimed that Jabbari made up accusations against the actor in revenge as their relationship failed. After Majors filed a cross complaint in June, Jabbari was arrested in October. The Manhattan district attorney's office ultimately declined to pursue the charges, saying the case lacked "prosecutorial merit."

Majors has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison.

Judge Michael Gaffey announced on Thursday that the defense will be allowed to bring up Jabbari's arrest during the trial. It's a minor victory for Majors' team, as was the judge's decision to keep certain evidence in the case under seal. The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, will include testimony from Jabbari — and potentially other women with whom Majors has been involved, according to court filings.

Majors had been one of Hollywood's most promising young leading men, earning comparisons to Denzel Washington. He had recently been cast as a wily supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the studio had been slowly building up his character, Kang the Conqueror with appearances in the 2023 movie Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and season two of the Disney+ show Loki.

Majors was arrested on March 25, 2023 when NYPD officers responded to a call and found Jabbari with cuts, bruises and a broken finger. She was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. Majors has since suggested Jabbari attacked him because she was furious over texts he was receiving from another woman. He remains under a protective order to avoid contact with her. The fallout for the actor has been severe: He has been dropped by his management and publicist. He is no longer appearing in several high-profile ad campaigns, and a much buzzed-about film in which he stars, Magazine Dreams, has been removed from Disney's schedule for theatrical release.

"Jonathan Majors, the real victim in this shameful ordeal, has had his life, career, and reputation torn apart. Yet he remains unwavering in his determination to be absolved from this harrowing ordeal," the actor's lawyer wrote in a statement last August.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Neda Ulaby
Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.