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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, assault charges in LA court

by Andrew Dalton | The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles court Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts.

The sheriff’s representative brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist to court in a wheelchair. She was wearing a brown gel jumpsuit and face mask. Attorney Mark Worksman filed a petition for the disgraced film mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited from New York to California, where he was serving a 23-year prison sentence.

Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him well as the hearing ended.

He now awaits a second trial on the other coast, and the prospect of another long sentence.

Weinstein’s indictment involves five women involved in incidents from 2004 to 2013. Most are said to have taken place in hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, which would house the New York-based Weinstein Hollywood business as its headquarters. Some took place during Oscar week, when his films were perennial contenders before the #MeToo movement brought him down.

He pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape, four counts of forced oral sex, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force, charges that together could carry a sentence of 140 years. is.

Worksman told the judge that he was filing documents requesting the dismissal of the three cases, saying they were beyond the statute of limitations.

“They’re baseless, they’re from, long ago, they’re unconfirmed,” Worksman said of the allegations after the hearing. “We believe he will be acquitted if we have a fair trial.”

The terms of Weinstein’s extradition require that his trial begin by November. Worksman said Weinstein has yet to waive that right. But it would be unusual for testing to start so early. Weinstein returned to court for a hearing the following week.

The women were not identified in the indictment.

A New York jury found Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actress in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcible oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in her Manhattan apartment in 2006.

He is appealing that conviction, seeking a new trial. Weinstein maintained his innocence and argued that any sexual activity was consensual.

Los Angeles prosecutors first charged Weinstein in January 2020, just as jury selection was underway in the New York City case.

More charges were added later in the year, and in March, he was indicted by the LA County Grand Jury. That indictment was dropped by the judge on Wednesday, but the charges in it are essentially identical to those already revealed in previous criminal complaints.

The pandemic and procedural delays meant Weinstein’s extradition took more than a year. Until jury selection began at the Los Angeles trial, his lawyers cited his declining health as seeking to keep him in a state prison near Buffalo, New York.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Worksman requested a health test for Weinstein. He said out of court that he was particularly concerned for Weinstein’s approach.

“He is blind in one eye,” said the lawyer.

Once a major force in Hollywood alongside his brother Bob and his film companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein would be characterized as the arch-villain of the #MeToo movement beginning in late 2017, when women’s accounts were banned. was published in the New York Times. and the New Yorker. He would be arrested seven months later in New York.

Rumors about Weinstein’s behavior swirled in film industry circles for decades, but he silenced many of the accusers over payments, non-disclosure agreements, and fears that it could crush his career.

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