The start of a criminal trial that could see Harvey Weinstein behind bars for life has survived another new set of defense lawyers, but now it could be set back because of a move by the prosecution – at least according to the disgraced producer’s legal team.
“We believe that any last ditch effort to recharge the defendant will prove futile, because as the DA well knows, it is unconstitutional to charge this defendant with a 25-year old alleged crime that predates the enactment of the statute and is time-barred,” Diana Fabi Samson said Friday in a statement after the office of New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr earlier this week indicated it will seek to have Annabella Sciorra testify before the jury in the multi-charge matter.
“The judge did not have to reach these issues because the DA had illegally charged the defendant with this crime in a bill of particulars,” the defense lawyer said. “Should the DA re-present this case yet again, the judge will then have the opportunity to dismiss the charge on constitutional grounds.”
The Sopranos actor Sciorra’s claims that Weinstein raped her 26 years ago can’t be a part of the current legal case due to the statute of limitations. However, as with the Bill Cosby retrial, her testimony could be an example of the M.O. that Weinstein used in the assaults that are at the heart of the criminal case.
If her testimony is allowed, then the September 9 trial start date could be pushed back to October as New York State law allows a 45-day period for the other side to respond to motions by the prosecutors with filings of their own.
“The People’s decision to call an additional witness is not an ‘eleventh hour maneuver,’ nor is this the ‘fourth time’ the People are seeking ‘to re-charge this case,’ as defendant now claims,” asserts Deputy D.A. Meghan Hart in a curt August 15 letter to Judge Judge Burke (read it here).
“The Amended Bill of Particulars providing the defense and the Court with notice of the People’s intent to present that witness at trial was filed and served on February 13, 2019,” the two-page correspondence to the New York Supreme Court official adds. “The defense did not file a motion seeking to exclude that testimony until June 21, 2019, 120 days after receiving the Amended Bill of Particulars.”
“As stated in the People’s letter of August 13, 2019, the new presentation and anticipated indictment in no way alters the charges under the Penal Law or the witnesses in this matter,” Hart contends. “However, after searching through various records and documentation, the additional witness referred to above realized that the sexual assault listed in Sections 1(2) and II(2) of the Amended Bill of Particulars occurred in the winter season spanning 1993 and 1994.”
“Finally, the defense’s request that the Court decide the defendant’s motion to dismiss on the grounds of duplicity or an ex post facto violation is premature in that an indictment charging counts involving the additional witness has not been voted and is thus not presently before the Court,” the prosecutor on the Joan Illuzzi-Orbon-led team concludes.
In other words, the trial, expected to last five weeks, should start on September 9 as planned.
The grand jury will decided on a new indictment on August 26, which could be D-Day for either Weinstein or the D.A.’s office.
First arrested in late May last year, Weinstein is facing two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. The 67-year-old could spend the rest of his life behind bars under the Empire State’s sex crimes laws if found guilty.
Since the New York Times first published its shattering exposé on the producer in October 2017. additional allegations against Weinstein have been reviewed by the LAPD, which sent an initial trio of cases to the L.A. County D.A. in February last year. Another case was handed over to that same office in in August. As UK police continue their investigation, the Beverly Hills Police in January 2018 passed two cases of sexual assault its says occurred in their jurisdiction to Lacey’s office.
Accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case and failing to get a sex trafficking class action tossed out, Weinstein is also facing allegations from more than 60 women that he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. In that vein, Weinstein is under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as probes by the Manhattan D.A.’s office and the NYPD.
Additionally, a so-called and much covered $44 million “global settlement” announced in May over the claims of dozens of women against Weinstein is apparently DOA now after various accusers cried foul over the hefty sums being paid out to lawyers and other reps for the now defunct board of the bankrupt The Weinstein Company.