One Year Ago Today (August 23, 2021)…Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein — who is charged with sex-related counts involving five women — appeared in court in connection with a new grand jury indictment, which restores a count that had been dismissed by a judge.
One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Alan Jackson, told reporters that the defense asked for Weinstein’s arraignment to be postponed until Sept. 20 to give the defense team additional time “to take a look at the indictment, to decide whether or not it passes muster” and to determine if they should file another legal challenge to the count.
Jackson — a former prosecutor who handled the high-profile murder trial of record producer Phil Spector — called the challenged count “snake-bit from the beginning.”
“We believe that it shouldn’t be there,” the defense lawyer said outside the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. “It’s out of statute. They knew that and they’re desperately trying to grasp at straws to keep it in, to keep it alive just because this is, as I’ve said before, this is in their view a prosecution by volume rather than prosecution by merit.”
The latest grand jury indictment, handed up last Wednesday, charges Weinstein again with the challenged count of sexual battery by restraint against a woman in May 2010.
It marked the third time the prosecution has asked the grand jury to amend the indictment against the 69-year-old Weinstein, who was initially indicted in March on 11 counts involving five women.
The challenged count is the only charge involving one of the five alleged victims.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench initially sustained the defense’s challenge to that count at a July 29 hearing, but agreed to allow the prosecution the opportunity to seek a grand jury indictment to amend the indictment.
“We believe that it will never succeed,” another of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, said after an Aug. 12 hearing in which the charge was dismissed. The prosecution “cannot breathe life into a charge that’s already barred by the statute of limitations,” he said.
The latest indictment alleges that Weinstein was “continually charged” with that crime since April 2020 and through Aug. 12, when the judge again sustained the defense’s challenge to that count after the prosecution sought two more amendments to the grand jury indictment.
“We are taking appropriate steps so that justice prevails in this case,” Alex Bastian, special adviser to Los Angeles County District Attorney George GascÃ³n, said in a statement released by the District Attorney’s Office after the Aug. 12 hearing.
Weinstein’s attorneys had unsuccessfully challenged two other counts — forcible oral copulation and forcible rape involving another alleged victim between September 2004 and September 2005.
Weinstein was extradited July 20 from New York, where he has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping an aspiring actress and a criminal sex act against a former production assistant.
He was brought into a downtown Los Angeles courtroom in a wheelchair a day later, with one of his attorneys entering a not guilty plea on his behalf. He remains jailed without bail.
Weinstein’s legal team had tried to block his transfer from New York to Los Angeles until he was “medically fit” to be moved. A court document filed in Los Angeles by the defense contended that Weinstein was in “urgent need of medical treatment to save his eyesight, and that this treatment could take anywhere from 24 to 36 months.”
The defense had also asked a judge in Los Angeles to delay the transfer until Weinstein’s medical treatment is completed.
Los Angeles County prosecutors initially charged Weinstein in January 2020 with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by use of force involving one woman on Feb. 18, 2013, and sexual battery by restraint involving another woman a day later.
Weinstein was subsequently charged in April 2020 with sexual battery by restraint — one of the counts challenged by the defense — involving a woman in May 2010. In November 2020, prosecutors added six more counts — three counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation — involving two alleged victims in Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2010.
The grand jury subsequently indicted Weinstein on the same charges.
“We’ve maintained Mr. Weinstein’s innocence from the beginning,” Jackson said. “Mr. Weinstein continues to maintain that and we look forward to looking at the newest iteration of the charging document and then, from there, moving forward with the process.”
Weinstein produced such films as `Shakespeare in Love,” which in 1999 received the best picture Oscar, and “Pulp Fiction.”