The judge in Harvey Weinstein’s trial said Thursday she will only hear a victim impact statement from a model/actress whom the former film producer was convicted of sexually assaulting.
Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench told attorneys she thinks it would be “wholly inappropriate” to hear at next Thursday’s sentencing hearing from two other women named in charges on which jurors announced that they were deadlocked last December.
One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, said such statements in court by those two women would be “unduly prejudicial” and would “taint the prospective jury pool” if those charges are retried.
The judge said Weinstein is “presumed to be innocent” of those charges involving the women identified in court as “Jane Doe #2” and “Jane Doe #4,” noting that she would have to preside over a retrial if it is sought by the prosecution.
Lench also refused to hear from other alleged victims, including a woman referred to as “Jane Doe #5.” Her portion of the case was dismissed after she was not called to the stand during Weinstein’s trial.
“So, I’m not going to make this an open forum on Mr. Weinstein’s conduct …,” the judge said. “I’ve heard the trial. I’m aware of the issues.”
Weinstein, 70, was convicted Dec. 19 of one count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign object occurring on or about Feb. 18, 2013, on Jane Doe #1.
Jurors deadlocked on a charge of sexual battery by restraint involving an alleged attack in February 2013 against Jane Doe #2 and counts of forcible oral copulation and forcible rape involving an alleged attack in 2005 on Jane Doe #4 — the latter of whom has been publicly identified by her attorney as Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The jury acquitted Weinstein of a felony charge of sexual battery by restraint involving an alleged attack on a masseuse — Jane Doe #3 — in 2010, but deadlocked on a lesser count involving the same woman. The judge noted that the misdemeanor count was not charged, and the prosecution said in December that it didn’t intend to move forward involving that alleged victim. Prosecutors had also asked that she be allowed to speak during the sentencing.
Gloria Allred, an attorney for some of the alleged victims, countered that they have a right to speak and that there is a risk otherwise of an “unjust sentence.”
She told reporters outside court that she intends to ask a state appellate court to quickly intervene.
“They can argue due process rights of the defendant. They have. What about the due process rights of the victim?” Allred asked.
She said she has asked the prosecution if her three clients can attend next week’s hearing even if they won’t be allowed to speak in court.
“I just can’t begin to describe how emotional this is for all of them,” Allred told reporters.
Weinstein is facing up to 24 years in state prison in connection with the three counts on which he was convicted.
Deputy District Attorneys Paul Thompson and Marlene Martinez wrote in a court filing this week that Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence for his convictions for sexually assaulting two women in New York and called his attack on Jane Doe #1 “part of a larger, decades-long pattern.” The prosecutors are asking that the sentence be run consecutively with his case in New York.
Jurors in Weinstein’s Los Angeles case deadlocked on whether there were aggravating factors that could wind up lengthening his maximum potential sentence, but prosecutors said the new sentencing law has an exception that allows a judge to consider a prior conviction if a certified document involving that conviction is provided to the court.
In a motion for a new trial or a reduction of the verdict, Weinstein’s attorneys argued that evidence involving Jane Doe #1 was wrongly excluded from the trial and that the jury was not properly instructed.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Weinstein used his position as one of Hollywood’s most successful movie producers to gain access to and sexually assault women. Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told jurors at the start of the case that Weinstein and his brother, Bob, created Miramax Films, which produced a number of “iconic and award-winning films” including “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Shakespeare In Love,” among others. The movies launched the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino, Thompson said.
Weinstein won an Oscar as a producer of best-picture winner “Shakespeare in Love.”
Weinstein — whom Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez had earlier called a “titan of the film industry” — engaged in “despicable behavior” and made sure that the alleged victims knew he “could destroy them,” the prosecutor said in her closing argument. Martinez told jurors that Weinstein used his power to prey on and silence women. She called him a “predator,” and said none of the women making accusations against Weinstein knew each other.
But defense attorney Alan Jackson told the jury that the entirety of the prosecution’s case could be summed up with five words — “Take my word for it” — and said the alleged victims lied on the stand about what was actually “consensual” or “transactional” sex with the now-disgraced filmmaker.
“Did one person come in here and say, `I said no to Harvey Weinstein and he screwed my career?’ Was there one? … Not one person said that because it’s a fable … It just isn’t true,” Jackson said.
The producer did not testify in his own defense.