Harvey Weinstein is facing a sealed indictment that would accelerate his trial on sexual assault charges in Los Angeles, but his lawyers told a New York judge Monday they will oppose extradition.
Weinstein’s L.A.-based defense lawyer, Mark Werksman, maintains that it’s not safe for his 69-year-old client to travel to Los Angeles County given the coronavirus pandemic.
“He’s got serious medical impairments. He has spinal stenosis. He can’t walk. He’s in a wheelchair. He has macular degeneration,” Werksman told the New York Daily News. “He has procedures and medical appointments already in the system where he is now.”
Defense attorney Norman Effman echoed those concerns during Monday’s hearing in Erie County, New York, which Weinstein attended via video, according to ABC News.
The disgraced former Hollywood producer is serving a 23-year sentence in New York after being convicted of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant and raping an aspiring actress. He is appealing that conviction.
Sources told the NY Daily News and the Los Angeles Times that the new indictment includes the same 11 counts already filed against Weinstein and covers the same five victims, but an indictment would allow prosecutors to avoid the need for a preliminary hearing.
The indictment reportedly revises the dates of crimes against one of the five women, all of whom testified during grand jury hearings, according to The Times.
Weinstein has been accused of assault by dozens of women and previously charged in Los Angeles with four counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration by force during crimes that allegedly took place between 2004 and 2013. The first charges were filed in January 2020 and were amended most recently in October.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which said in October that Weinstein could face up to 140 years in prison if convicted as charged on the West Coast counts, had no comment on Monday’s report of an indictment.
Werksman told The Times that the indictment was based on “stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement,” and expressed confident that his client would be acquitted due to a lack of credible evidence.
In court Monday, Effman said he would challenge the request for extradition based on procedural technicalities, and failing that, wanted to ask New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in to prevent the transfer of his ailing client.
The judge set another hearing for April 30.
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