The long road to getting Harvey Weinstein out West to face rape charges hit a new pothole on Friday.
Mired in technical difficulties and coronavirus restrictions, the initial gathering before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case has now been moved to December 11 at 9:30 AM ET, according to the local D.A.
The postponement is the result of a pre-hearing arrangement between Weinstein’s defense lawyers and L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office because of “pandemic concerns,” as one well placed source put it today. Which means it could be deep into 2021 before Weinstein is actually put on a plane from the East Coast to L.A., depending on appeals and court availability.
Wearing a blue mask, the imprisoned producer appeared briefly early Friday via video feed from the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, NY for the hearing on his extradition to Los Angeles. The L.A. D.A. has charged Weinstein with felony counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, sexual battery by restraint and sexual battery.
On top of the 23 years he is currently serving on the East Coast for his conviction earlier this year on various sex crimes, Weinstein faces 30 years behind bars if found guilty on the West Coast charges.
When not behind bars, the supposedly cash strapped Oscar winner and his lawyers have been in and out of court for most of the year.
After a NYC trial that lasted almost two months, on February 24, Weinstein was found guilty of two sex crime felony charges. Allegedly suffering from a litany of health issues that saw him in and out of Bellevue Hospital, Weinstein was sentenced to more than two decades in a state prison on March 11.
Weinstein has not filed an appeal in the New York trial, despite repeated assurances from his Manhattan attorneys that one would be coming soon
In an obvious case of political theater, Lacy picked the opening day of Weinstein’s NYC trial on January 6 to call a press conference in L.A. on the matter. Noticeably surrounded by top law enforcement brass, the long serving D.A. announced that the defendant would now also be battling multiple felony counts from “raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.”
Already having seen the COVID-19 pandemic previously delay his extradition to LA on multiple rape and sex-crime charges, including an April 10-added sexual battery by restraint charge, the one-time coronavirus infected Pulp Fiction EP is presently out of isolation and serving time at the Wende facility in upstate New York. In a case unrelated to the L.A. D.A. matter, the 68-year-old Weinstein has also been accused of raping a 17-year-old in 1994 in a May 29 jury trial-seeking suit.
A heavily criticized proposed $19 million global settlement with other victims of his alleged abuse was rejected by a federal judge last month. Weinstein also recently failed to get a sex-trafficking class action tossed out and is the subject of a more recent lawsuit from a woman who says he abused her when she was 16 in 2002. As well as a recently renewed sexual harassment case from Ashley Judd, he is additionally facing allegations from close to 100 other women who say he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them.
The Los Angeles County D.A.’s office formally filed a “Request for Temporary Custody” for Weinstein on July 20 over the multiple felony counts. Weinstein would be moved to a jail cell in the City of Angels to await trial on the West Coast charges. He would likely be transported back to the East Coast to serve out his sentence there afterwards, with the possibility that any L.A. sentence could be served consecutively – which means Weinstein would almost certainly die in prison.
In the fight of her political life for reelection this fall after eight years in office, Lacey’s staggered moves against Weinstein over the past several months have raised eyebrows on both sides of the country. “This is clearly about politics,” one insider told Deadline of the LA D.A.’s timing after seemingly years of inaction on various investigations of the much-accused producer. “Lacey wants to check all the right boxes with Weinstein for points with her Hollywood constituents and women voters, but she is running down the clock at the same time.”
As her husband faces criminal charges for threatening Black Lives Matter protesters with a gun earlier this year, Lacey came up with less than 50% of the vote in the D.A. primary in March. Losing vital support from the likes of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and others over her often hard positions on police brutality and justice reform, L.A.’s first African-American D.A. will face poll topping George Gascón, the former San Francisco district attorney and LAPD vet.
Set for November, that battle of the ballot box will likely see a very different L.A. D.A.’s office arguing the case to extradite Harvey Weinstein in December.
The current L.A. D.A.’s office did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on today’s delay.
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