Harvey Weinstein appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday and received an Oct. 10 trial date for his serial rape case. The case is expected to last eight weeks.
The disgraced movie mogul agreed to the date and then hung his head, staring at his glasses folded in his hands shackled in his lap. It was last week that Weinstein learned that a five-judge appeals panel in New York upheld his 2020 conviction on felony sex crimes in Manhattan. He plans to ask New York’s highest court to review that decision, his lawyers say.
“We’re extremely disappointed and frustrated over the [appeals] ruling in New York. It was a terrible ruling,” Weinstein’s California defense lawyer, Mark Werksman, said after chatting with his client before Weinstein was escorted out of the courtroom in a wheelchair.
Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault involving the five unidentified victims in the Los Angeles County felony case. The DA’s office claims the movie producer raped three of the women — one of them on two separate occasions a year apart — and sexually assaulted two others during attacks at hotels in and around Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013.
Prosecutors won a pre-trial victory last month when Judge Lisa Lench ruled they could bring in the voices of six additional accusers at trial – women whose allegations of sexual assault did not lead to charges in California. Judge Lench said Friday that she received, and was still reviewing, a follow-up defense motion asking her to hold evidentiary hearings where the extra women would be called in to testify in a “preliminary” capacity before a jury is selected. The judge said she planned to rule on the request by early August.
The identities of five of the six extra women are not public. The sixth is former production assistant Miriam Haley. Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting Haley at his SoHo apartment in 2006 and prosecutors say they’ll introduce Haley without calling her in person.
During Weinstein’s New York trial, prosecutors were allowed to call actor Annabella Sciorra and three other women to testify about uncharged, alleged assaults in support of Weinstein’s underlying charges. Prosecutors also won the right to question Weinstein about 28 incidents of alleged assaultive behavior if he testified. He didn’t take the witness stand.
“We’re mindful that some of the same issues are arising [in Los Angeles],” Werksman told Rolling Stone on Friday. “We have the same situation as in New York where the prosecution is going to be allowed to put on evidence of uncharged crimes which will confuse the jury, prejudice the jury, and basically deny him a fair trial.”
The transcript of Weinstein’s grand jury proceeding remains sealed in Los Angeles, but prosecutors allege that less than 24 hours after he purportedly raped Jane Doe No. 1 at the Mr. C luxury hotel, he sexually assaulted another victim at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Los Angeles DA’s office charged Weinstein on Jan. 6, 2020, just as jury selection was getting underway at his New York trial. On Feb. 24, 2020, the Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty of the two felony sex crimes: the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a Midtown Manhattan DoubleTree hotel in 2013 and the first-degree sex assault on Haley.
The once-powerful Oscar winner was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11, 2020, in a milestone #MeToo moment. He appealed the New York conviction in April 2021, two months before he was extradited to California. His New York lawyer argued his appeal on Dec. 15, 2021.
While some members of the all-female panel questioned the “large” amount of uncharged material and additional victims’ voices cleared for use in Weinstein’s Manhattan trial, they upheld the conviction in their June 2 decision, saying “all of the material allowed by the court was unquestionably relevant.”