Facing multiple criminal charges of rape, former Scrubs co-executive producer Eric Weinberg moved one step close to a trial today.
In a sometimes turbulent session Thursday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge set a preliminary hearing for April 25 for Weinberg.
Denied bail and incarcerated in the DTLA Twin Towers Correctional Facility since October 25, the one-time Californication EP faces up to 100 years in state prison if found guilty.
Appearing in Judge Kerry L. White’s courtroom today at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in person in an orange jumpsuit and mask, Weinberg is facing six criminal counts of sexual penetration by use of force. He is also charged with four counts of oral copulation, three counts of forcible rape, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count each of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, attempted sexual penetration by use of force, and false imprisonment by violence.
First arrested by Los Angeles police last summer on over a dozen rape claims that occurred between 2012 and 2019, Weinberg was initially released on a $3.2 million bail bond. Later raised to $5 million, that bail on the 2022 arrest was revoked, and Weinberg was taken into custody just before Halloween last year after pleading not guilty at his arraignment.
Since Weinberg’s arrest last July, the LAPD and LA County District Attorney’s office say they have received more than 70 tips and stories from women who claim they were raped after being coaxed to the TV vet’s Los Feliz home on the promise of a photo shoot to further careers in the entertainment industry.
Along with civil cases filed by two alleged victims against Weinberg in early November, an additional 13 more cases were filed last month claiming sexual assaults. With plaintiffs ranging in age from 18 to their mid-30s at the time of the assaults, the new cases detail alleged attacks that occurred from 1998 to 2017.
While involving many of the same alleged victims, those cases are separate from the criminal case. The civil cases could be put on hold while the criminal cases progress, as often happens in such circumstances. However, the defense is unlikely to pursue that option, I hear.
After a delay Thursday, as a number of other cases were called before the busy LASC judge, the hearing today hit a pothole of sorts as the prosecutor could suddenly not be found. As Weinberg huddled with defense attorney Phillip Cohen and Sheriff’s deputies hovered, court officials went to find the Deputy D.A. handling things today and Judge White dealt with other matters.
After that, the Judge took a brief break, and the Weinberg hearing began just before 11 AM PT. Deputy DA May Martinez, who is taking point on the Weinberg case, was not in court today because of a Harvey Weinstein hearing happening on the 9th floor of the Criminal Justice Center.
Besides the fairly quickly dealt with matter of the preliminary hearing date, the bulk of today’s hearing, once it got started, centered on the submitted protective order for the case.
The defense found the order too restrictive in its privacy concerns. Cohen told Judge White that in his reading of the order that he and co-counsel “cannot not use a police report causes an undue prejudice to the defense.” Essentially, Cohen and co-counsel Robin Stax sought to have permission for their investigators to mention the name of the alleged victims in the criminal case while questioning persons who may have information in the matter.
“We believe there is a privacy concern and that it why it essential they not be identified,” Deputy D.A. Negin Mostadim argued, adding that by the specifics of Weinberg’s alleged crimes there are naked photographs of the women involved that could also be made public as evidence comes out.
Signing the protective order and thereby putting it into effect, Judge White granted that the defense’s request, but made it clear that P.I.s for Weinberg’s team cannot identify the individuals as victims. However, while admitting that there may be a contradiction in Cohen not theoretically being able to know information in the criminal case in his role as co-counsel in the various civil cases filed in recent months, the judge held off making any more changes to the wide ranging protective order until Deputy D.A. Martinez weighed in.
“The defendant has engaged in a pattern of violence for at least six years,” said Judge Victoria B. Wilson over the objections of defense lawyer Cohen and other members of Weinberg’s legal team back in October.
The LASC judge went on to call Weinberg a probable “serial rapist” and labelled his decades of vile behavior as “brazen and predatory.” Weinberg targeted women in their 20s and 30s “in grocery stores, coffee shops and other public places,” according to the LAPD. “He is a danger to society,” Deputy DA Martinez said about Weinberg at the October 25 hearing. “He is a danger to all females.”
Weinberg had been arrested before in 2014 for sexual assault, but the D.A.’s office at the time decided not to lay charges – something that is sure to come up in both the current criminal and civil cases.
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