jail cells
Example of jail cells. Photo via Pixabay

The District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it has filed court papers to move the extradition process forward for imprisoned former film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is facing sex-related charges in Los Angeles involving three women.

A hearing date is expected to be set in New York, where Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting two women and is serving a 23-year prison term — on the “request for temporary custody,” according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

It remains unclear how soon he will be brought to Los Angeles County, where he is charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by use of force and two counts of sexual battery by restraint.

The criminal complaint alleges that the crimes occurred in Los Angeles County in May 2010 and February 2013.

Weinstein, 68, was initially charged Jan. 6 with crimes involving two women, and prosecutors subsequently filed a charge in May involving an alleged attack on a third woman.

“We are continuing to build and strengthen our case,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a written statement in May when prosecutors added the second count of sexual battery by restraint. “As we gather corroborating evidence, we have reached out to other possible sexual assault victims. If we find new evidence of a previously unreported crime, as we did here, we will investigate and determine whether additional criminal charges should be filed.”

Weinstein could face up to 29 years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ashley Judd can pursue a sexual harassment claim against Weinstein, overturning a lower court’s decision to toss the allegation from the actress’ defamation and retaliation lawsuit.

The panel found that the relationship between Judd and Weinstein “consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood,” according to the 16-page ruling.

Two years ago, a judge dismissed the sexual harassment claim after finding that a California state law — under which the claim was brought — did not apply in Judd’s case. The judge determined, however, that the “Double Jeopardy” actress could proceed with allegations that the disgraced producer smeared her reputation and ruined her chance for a role in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The California Civil Code statute was changed to specifically include directors and producers, but the judge said the revision could not be applied retroactively.

The appeals panel held that whether Judd and Weinstein’s relationship was in fact an employment relationship was a question for the lower court, and returned the case to a Los Angeles federal courtroom.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said “the truth will come to light” in court.

“The most minimal investigation of the events will show that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd nor hindered or interfered with her career, and certainly never retaliated against her and indeed had nothing to retaliate for,” the defense attorney said. “Instead, Mr. Weinstein championed her work and approved her casting for two of his movies.”

Kupferstein said Weinstein fought for Judd “as his first choice for the lead role” in “Good Will Hunting,” and flew her to New York to be considered for the part.

“Thereafter, Ms. Judd was hired for two of Mr. Weinstein’s movies, `Frida’ in 2002 and `Crossing Over’ with Harrison Ford in 2009,” Kupferstein said. “In addition, the record on `Lord of the Rings’ will finally be made absolutely clear — that Mr. Weinstein had no authority over the project as it belonged to a different production company that had full staffing control of the film.”

Judd’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous Jr., called the 9th Circuit ruling “an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships.”

“The court correctly holds that California law forbids sexual harassment and retaliation by film producers and others in powerful positions, even outside the employment context, and we look forward to pursuing this claim against Mr Weinstein at trial,” he said.

In her April 2018 lawsuit, Judd alleges Weinstein made sexual advances toward her in 1997 at a Beverly Hills hotel while they were meeting to discuss potential film roles. She alleges that she managed to elude Weinstein by proposing a “mock contract” by falsely telling him she would let him touch her when she won an Oscar for one of his films.

Judd was one of the first women to come forward with harassment allegations against him.

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