UPDATED with details and attorney statement: A Los Angeles judge on Thursday rejected a bid to dismiss two sex-related charges against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, despite defense claims they are precluded by the statute of limitations.
Judge Lisa Lench, however, told prosecutors to return to a grand jury to amend a third charge of sexual battery by restraint, which the defense challenged on the same grounds. Weinstein also is facing eight other sex-related charges.
Weinstein, who is being held without bail in the Twin Towers jail downtown, was at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center for today’s hearing. His attorneys claimed a victory afterward.
“You can put a fork in Count 5 — it’s done,” one of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, told reporters outside the courtroom. “One-fifth of the prosecution’s case has been gutted.” He added that the defense believes there is no factual basis to allow that felony count involving the alleged May 2010 crime to proceed.
The judge sustained the defense’s challenge on that charge but agreed to Deputy D.A. Paul Thompson’s request to amend the indictment.
Weinstein’s attorneys unsuccessfully challenged two other counts: forcible oral copulation and forcible rape involving another alleged victim between September 2004 and September 2005.
Also today, Lench denied the defense’s request to allow Weinstein — who came to court dressed in brown jail clothes — to wear civilian clothes, given the presence of cameras during the hearing.
“Showing up in court in a rumpled brown L.A. County jail jumpsuit deprives a defendant of the presumption of innocence because it makes him look guilty,” Werksman said outside court.
The former mogul, 69, already is a convicted sex offender due to a successful prosecution in New York last year. He was was extradited to Los Angeles from New York on July 20 and entered a not-guilty plea to all L.A. charges the next day. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing September 13.
The Weinstein indictment unsealed July 21 lays out the full extent of the four counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint, and one count of sexual penetration by use of force. The attacks involve five women over a span of time from 2004-13. (Read the unsealed indictment here.)
No trial date has been set.
City News Service contributed to this report.