In Los Angeles, Weinstein pleads not guilty to sexual assault and rape

Harvey Weinstein, 69, who has been serving a 23-year prison sentence for sexual assault and rape in New York since 2020, was transferred to Los Angeles, the city where he once reigned supreme, on Tuesday to answer the new charges.

He is accused of raping or sexually assaulting five women in hotels, between 2004 and 2013.

After a lawyer spoke on behalf of the former Hollywood titan, Judge Sergio Tapia registered the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, who was present in the courtroom in a wheelchair and wearing a brown jumpsuit.

“Anyone who abuses their power and influence to attack others will be brought to justice,” promised Los Angeles prosecutor George Gascon.

In California, Harvey Weinstein is notably accused of having raped an Italian model in a hotel in Beverly Hills in February 2013, then of having sexually assaulted Lauren Young, an actress in the making, in the bathroom of another hotel.

The latter, the only accuser not to be anonymous in this case, had already testified during the high-profile trial of the producer in New York. Found guilty in March 2020, he was imprisoned in the wake, a decision seen as a major victory for the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein faces up to 140 years in prison

In early April, Mr. Weinstein formally appealed against this conviction.

In total, nearly 90 women including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette have accused Harvey Weinstein of harassment, sexual assault, or rape. But the statute of limitations has been exceeded in many of these cases, some of which date back to 1977.

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In Los Angeles, the producer of “Pulp Fiction” faces up to 140 years in prison, in addition to his New York conviction.

The one who was the darling of the festivals of the 7th art has always denied the facts, in New York as in California, affirming that his accusers were consenting.

These allegations are “unproven, not credible and unfounded,” his lawyer Mark Werksman assured reporters on Wednesday, arguing that there was no forensic evidence or credible witness to back them up.

He also demanded that three of the charges appearing in the indictment be dropped, due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

A medical evaluation granted to Weinstein

Finally assuring that his client was suffering from a “physical condition which has deteriorated”, he asked that Harvey Weinstein benefit from a medical evaluation, which Judge Tapia granted.

Lawyers for the fallen movie mogul had already pleaded for weeks against his transfer to Los Angeles, including for medical reasons, saying he “risked losing his sight.”

But holding a trial in the Californian megalopolis is essential for the victims, hammered the lawyer for several of them, the famous Gloria Allred.

“There has so far been no access to justice for people who claim to be victims” in Los Angeles, insisted Wednesday the one who was already defending several of Weinstein’s victims in New York.

Before his fall, the producer’s influence in Hollywood was immense. At the end of the 1970s, he had founded the Miramax studio with his brother, sold to Disney in 1993, then The Weinstein Company, behind great successes, such as Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”.

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Over the years, Weinstein’s films have received over 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.

At the end of the hearing, in which a very pale-skinned Harvey Weinstein sat in silence, handcuffed to his chair, the judge wished the former producer “good luck”. The latter seemed to thank the judge, his voice muffled by an ill-fitting blue mask.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 29.

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