Will Harvey Weinstein charges stick? Judge to decide whether to toss sexual assault case against disgraced movie mogul during pivotal pretrial hearing in Manhattan court
- Weinstein, 66, will appear in Manhattan court on Thursday for a pretrial hearing
- Judge James Burke will decide whether the five remaining criminal sexual assault charges against him should be thrown out
- Weinstein is accused of raping a woman he knew in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his apartment in NYC
- He turned himself in to authorities in May and was indicted on six felony charges
- One count was dismissed in October after an NYPD detective on his case was found to have mishandled evidence
- The remaining charges include predatory sexual assault, criminal sexual act in the first degree, first-degree rape and third-degree rape
Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (pictured in July) will appear in Manhattan court on Thursday for a pretrial hearing where a judge will decide whether the five remaining criminal sexual assault charges against him should be thrown out
Harvey Weinstein’s judgment day has arrived.
The disgraced movie mogul will appear in Manhattan court on Thursday for a pretrial hearing where a judge will decide whether the five remaining criminal sexual assault charges against him should be thrown out.
It’s been 14 months since the first allegations against Weinstein came out of the woodwork last fall, leading dozens of women to point the finger at the Hollywood power player for misconduct over nearly four decades.
The allegations led to a cascade of similar claims against dozens of other powerful men in the media, dubbed the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein turned himself in to authorities in May, and was hit with six felony charges across June and July. He has been accused of raping a woman he knew in a hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment.
One count was dismissed in October after an NYPD officer was found to have mishandled evidence.
The remaining five felony charges include 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.
Soon after the first allegations surfaced Weinstein apologized for the ‘pain’ he had caused but never admitted to any illegal activity. Since being indicted he has maintained his innocence, insisting that he never engaged in non-consensual sex with anyone.
Weinstein’s legal team has been putting on a fierce campaign to convince judge James Burke to throw out the case, seizing on allegations of unscrupulous police work and producing a witness who says his rape accuser pressured her to corroborate her story.
The prosecution says there is ‘ample evidence’ to put the 66-year-old on trial.
Today, Judge Burke will decide if he thinks that’s true.
Weinstein was indicted over the summer six felony charges. He stands accused of raping a woman he knew in a hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment
Weinstein’s defense team’s call for the five remaining charges to be dropped is based on two key arguments.
The first, that a detective involved in his arrest mishandled the investigation, already worked for them once when they got the first charge dismissed in October.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office revealed that Detective Nicholas DiGaudio told an accuser to delete cell phone messages prior to turning her phones over to authorities. He was taken off the case.
Weinstein’s lawyers say the case has devolved into chaos and was ‘irreparably tainted’ by DiGaudio’s alleged interference. Prosecutors insist that the DiGaudio allegations haven’t sullied the rest of the case.
The second argument is that Weinstein’s accusers are lying about the nature of their sexual contact with the movie mogul.
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WHAT COULD HAPPEN?
Burke has a few options. He could side with Weinstein and dismiss some or all of the charges, or he could schedule a trial, which would be a win for prosecutors. He could also throw out the indictment, but give prosecutors time to seek a new one.
A dismissal of the charges would be a big setback to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who was criticized for declining to pursue criminal charges against Weinstein when he was accused of groping an Italian model in 2015. It wouldn’t rule out prosecutors bringing charges involving other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein in New York.
Burke could also keep the indictment in place, but grant the defense’s request for an evidentiary hearing. There, police investigators could be summoned to court to answer questions about alleged misconduct.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Weinstein’s case started to turn in October when Manhattan prosecutors dropped one of the charges after evidence surfaced that DiGaudio instructed a potential witness in the case to keep some of her doubts about the veracity of the allegations to herself.
DiGaudio allegedly told the witness last February that ‘less is more’ but kept prosecutors in the dark. That witness never testified before the grand jury that indicted Weinstein.
Prosecutors also disclosed an allegation that DiGaudio urged the 2013 rape accuser to delete private material from her cellphones before handing them over to the DA’s office. Prosecutors said the material didn’t pertain to Weinstein and the woman wound up not deleting anything.
Late last month, Weinstein’s lawyers said they spoke to a woman who said the rape accuser asked her to corroborate her allegations, but the friend wouldn’t ‘make up a story.’
The friend told investigators that Weinstein and the accuser had been ‘hooking up’ consensually for a while and that she never heard her say anything bad about him until last year, Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said in a court filing.
WHAT DO WEINSTEIN’S LAWYERS SAY?
Brafman says the case has been ‘irreparably tainted’ by alleged police misconduct. He is urging Burke to dismiss the case, writing in a recent court filing: ‘The only reasonably prudent decision would be to stop this chaos now.’
WHAT DO PROSECUTORS SAY?
Prosecutors say there is ‘ample evidence’ to move forward. In a court filing, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Wilson says ‘there is no possibility’ that alleged police misconduct ‘in any way impaired the integrity of the grand jury or prejudiced the defendant.’
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