The producer who was once compared to God for his power in Hollywood is accused in New York of 5 sex crimes, although cases also accumulate in Los Angeles
Producer Harvey Weinstein sat on the bench Monday that is outlined as a tough trial for sexual abuse in New York, with a prosecutor who called him “predator” at the hearing, women reminding him of what he allegedly did at the gates of the court and new charges in Los Angeles.
Weinstein, 67, arrived hunched over and helped by a walker to the state Supreme Court (he had recently had back surgery), where his defense and the Prosecutor’s Office were summoned to finalize the details of a process that was delayed several times, while his lawyers “made, remade and remade” motions, according to Judge James Burke.
The producer who was once compared to God for his power in Hollywood today awaited, far from the glamour of the Golden Globes held the day before, a hundred long journalists waiting for the “first criminal case of the #MeToo movement ” and a group of women who have accused him of abuse.
Among them was actress Rose McGowan, one of his biggest detractors, who expressed solidarity with the alleged victims, whistleblowers and witnesses and addressed him directly at street level: “Dear Harvey, no matter what lies you tell yourself same: you did this.”
Fifteen floors up, in a small room, Weinstein was silent during an hour and a half hearing in which his team of lawyers, led by the controversial Donna Rotunno, tried to obtain concessions from the judge in front of the Prosecutor’s Office, whose spearhead is Assistant Attorney for prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon.
Illuzzi said authorities are complying with the law “as humanely as possible” to share information with the defence, but disagreed with measures such as showing mobile phones delivered by a witness or interview notes with women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
In that sense, the assistant prosecutor said: “These are very sensitive issues for witnesses … It is simply not something that we are going to share fully with the person who is the predator in this room,” a rating that prompted the Rotunno protest.
Weinstein is accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of five sexual crimes, two of the rape, for incidents related to two women whose complaints are included in the case, and the authorities are expected to call to testify to four others, one of them actress Annabella Sciorra, to argue “predatory” attitude.
Sciorra, the only one identified, has been the subject of a comment by Weinstein’s defence attorney in interviews that Illuzzi called “degrading and humiliating,” so the judge has ordered him to “remove witnesses” from his public communications about the case.
The magistrate responded to other requests from the Prosecutor’s Office, such as prohibiting the producer from leaving the state, with the exception of his home in Connecticut, and admitting as evidence seven “extremely relevant” photographs, which he must, however, decide how to manage to keep them in private.
On the other hand, Burke gave a blow to Weinstein’s lawyers excluding one of the witnesses he proposed, Detective Nicholas DiGaudio, allegedly removed from the case for hiding favorable evidence for the defense, which led to the withdrawal of a charge.
He also denied a request from Weinstein’s attorneys for the jury to be isolated during the process, in a space without access to sources of information so that there would be a “fair trial” for his client.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents one of the complainants, Mimi Haleyi, and the witness Sciorra, later stressed that the defence wanted an isolated jury before the “concern” of possible new charges in other jurisdictions.
Charges also in Los Angeles
Just as the lawyer predicted, just hours after completing the hearing, Weinstein was accused by the Office of the County of Los Angeles have raped allegedly by a woman and having sexually assaulted another, so likely will appear before that court After the process in New York.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, on February 18, 2013, Weinstein would have raped a woman in a Los Angeles hotel after forcing her into her own room. The next night, always according to the accusation, the producer sexually assaulted another woman in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
The Prosecutor’s Office has recommended a bond of 5 million dollars and explained that, if convicted of all charges, the producer could face up to 28 years in a state jail.
The precise accusations that Weinstein will face in Los Angeles are for rape, forced oral sex and sexual penetration with force, in the case of the first woman, and sexual assault with retention with respect to the second. These two women told at least one person in 2013 what had happened to the producer. In 2017 it was when they accused Weinstein.
The prosecutor explained that eight women went to the Los Angeles authorities with accusations against Weinstein for alleged sexual crimes in the county. Two of them are those that are part of this case, three were dismissed for having prescribed the facts and the other three cases are still being investigated.
In Los Angeles it was noted that these charges against the producer are the result of the special team formed at the end of 2017 to evaluate and investigate the numerous cases of sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood that were known in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The trial will continue tomorrow with a first review of the potential jurors, which must be “fair, impartial and available,” according to the judge, and with which a final panel will foreseeably be formed by January 14.