A recent addition to Harvey Weinstein’s rape indictment by the Manhattan D.A. could see the disgraced producer’s trial pushed back, and now Weinstein wants the whole thing moved out of Gotham.
“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” reads an August 16 Hail Mary filing by Weinstein’s defense team in the Empire State’s appellate courts (read it here).
Citing courthouse press conferences (in which Weinstein’s various legal teams have never hesitated to engage) and a “circus-like atmosphere” at the “ground zero” of Lower Manhattan, lawyer Arthur Aidala says his client has been “prejudged …as guilty, not just of the crimes charged, but many many others.”
Still scheduled to start September 9 as part of an agreement with Judge James Burke to approve Weinstein’s latest legal crew earlier this summer, the anticipated five-week long trial could see the much-accused producer incarcerated for life if found guilty.
The motion, requested to be heard at the same time as a previously scheduled August 26 hearing, puts Long Island’s Suffolk County or upstate jurisdictions as possible new venues. As unlikely as it is that Weinstein’s lawyers could prevail in moving the trial, Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office declined comment Tuesday on the new filing. A response is expected to be formally filed in the next few days.
The District Attorney’s office already could have handed the other side a probable 45-day delay with their move last week to have Annabella Sciorra testify before the jury in the multi-charge matter. That will also be decided August 26. However, despite the D.A.’s assertion otherwise, generally such changes in an indictment give the defense up to six weeks to respond, which would postpone the already pushed back trial start.
First arrested in late May 2018, 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. Subject to travel restrictions reinforced last August 7, the 67-year-old Oscar-winning producer is out on $1 million bail after entering a not guilty plea on July 9 last year. That was long months after the New York Times exposé of October 2017 was published and put the producer’s alleged decades-long vile behavior in the spotlight he had bullied and paid off to avoid.
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, the NYPD, the LAPD and more globally.
Additionally, a so-called $44 million “global settlement” announced in May over the claims of dozens of women against Weinstein looks to be all smoke and no fire 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.