A partial shackled Harvey Weinstein spent most of the morning today in a downtown LA courtroom in a pretrial hearing for rape, battery and other sex crimes, but he won’t be facing Rose McGowan or RICO charges any time soon.
The convicted sex offender will, however, be facing West Coast justice on grand jury indictments of four counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, one count of sexual penetration by use of force, plus one count of sexual battery by restraint and sexual battery in incidents involving five women in L.A. County over a nine-year period.
The much-accused and wheelchair-bound Pulp Fiction EP and his lawyers failed Tuesday in their motion to have the indictments tossed out.
Despite Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman’s assertions that the material submitted to the grand jury this summer by LA County D.A. George Gascón’s office was “weak and insufficient,” LA Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench disagreed. The judge told the masked lawyers and on-lookers that she was ruling the case should move forward because the D.A.’s offices presented “sufficient evidence” for the 11 felony charges against the 69-year-old and ailing Weinstein.
With another hearing set for early next year for witness examination, the much-delayed LA trial may not start until late 2022.
“We are obviously disappointed, but we are also prepared to go forward,” Weinstein spokesperson Juda Engelmayer told Deadline after the hearing. “We believe there are serious flaws in the claims made, the charges filed and the prosecution’s grand jury procedures, and we will bring them to light seeking justice for Mr. Weinstein at trial.”
Represented Tuesday in court by Deputy D.A. Paul Thompson, Gascón’s office did not respond to request for comment from Deadline.
Already sentenced to 23 years in the clink in March 2020 after being found guilty of two sex crime felony charges in New York, Weinstein is looking at 140 years behind bars if found guilty of multiple sex crimes on the West Coast.
Certain to die in prison, Weinstein faced defeat today on one front, but a win on another.
A federal judge has turned off the lights on Rose McGowan’s more than two-year old RICO suit against the producer, lawyers David Boies and Lisa Bloom and Israeli private-security contractor Black Cube.
“Plaintiff’s RICO claim is DISMISSED ON THE MERITS AND WITH PREJUDICE as against all Defendants,” wrote Judge Otis D. Wright, II yesterday (read it here). “The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remainder of the case and accordingly DISMISSES all remaining claims in this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE.”
One of the first to speak publicly against Weinstein years ago and a relentless critic of Hollywood’s long indulgence of a culture of casting coaches, rape, and retribution, McGowan in October 2019 went after the now-former defendants for a coordinated attempt to silence her and prevent the publication of her memoir.
The claims of a “pattern of racketeering” and more just before Weinstein’s NYC trial started captured a lot of attention, but failed to go far in the courts. Late last year, California-based District Judge Wright disbanded most of the claims.
With just two fraud claims remaining and permission granted to rethink the RICO claims, subsequent amended complaint from McGowan also failed to meet Judge Wright’s standard of what constituted racketeering activity. On November 9, the judge wrote that because “defendants’ effort to silence McGowan was a single, unified project with an end goal and an end date,” the heinous behavior was “not the sort of continuous effort that is prohibited by RICO.”
Still McGowan’s case wasn’t over – until it was.
On November 23, McGowan’s lawyer Julie Porter exited the case after stating in a court filing that her now ex-client had fired her over Zoom that day. Judge Wright said McGowan could represent herself and had up to December 3 to file her own brief.
Nothing was filed last Friday and Monday Judge Wright dismissed the whole matter. Yet, nothing is really ever over in Hollywood, and there is still a chance that McGowan could resurrect the matter in LA Superior Court.
Weinstein is currently being held in a DTLA jail cell and serving out part of his New York sentence since being extradited to the City of Angels in the summer. In April, Weinstein filed his long-anticipated appeal in the New York sex crimes case. The office of about-to-retire Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr has yet to file a response to that appeal.
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