Harvey Weinstein to face more witnesses in rape case

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Harvey Weinstein to face more witnesses in rape case

A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday approved six more witnesses to testify against Harvey Weinstein in his ongoing sexual assault and rape case — but denied the prosecution’s request to put actress Daryl Hannah on the stand. 

The disgraced Hollywood producer — who appeared in court in a wheelchair with a heavy metal chain around his waist attached to handcuffs — sat silently for most of the hour and a half hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench.

Prosecutors filed a motion under seal asking the judge to consider adding 16 more witnesses who claim Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them, dating as far back as 1978, including the “Splash” actress.

After listening to the arguments from Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson and defense attorney Mark Werksman, the judge agreed to allow six out of the 16 additional witnesses to testify at Weinstein’s trial.

The fallen film mogul is not facing charges related to the new witnesses, but they will testify to alleged prior bad acts.

Lench said she would let the jury hear from the six whose allegations occurred in the early 2000s to as late as 2016. She did not, however, allow witnesses such as Hannah, and others whose claims were “too remote” in time.  

A courtroom sketch shows an officer escorting Harvey Weinstein while he’s handcuffed to a wheelchair during his sexual assault conviction on March 11, 2020.
A courtroom sketch shows an officer escorting Harvey Weinstein while he’s handcuffed to a wheelchair during his sexual assault conviction on March 11, 2020.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Werksman argued that allowing even one additional witness would unfairly prejudice the jury against his high-profile client.

The attorney also said his client’s “modus operandi” alleged by the new witnesses did not fit the charges Weinstein is already facing.

“When they (the jury) hears all of this stuff that happened literally over a 45-year period. … There will be such confusion that this court will lose control,” Werksman told the judge.

Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to several sex-crimes charges involving five unnamed women. Prosecutors allege he raped three women and assaulted two others between 2004 to 2013 in hotels around Beverly Hills. 

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the courtroom for his sexual assault trial at Manhattan criminal court on February 3, 2020 in New York City.
Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting women since 1978.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

So far, the judge has allowed a total of 11 alleged victims to take the stand once the trial starts in mid-September.

Before Wednesday’s hearing ended, the judge asked Weinstein if he agreed that his trial would start about 90 days from June 10.

After pausing for about five seconds to think over his response, a flabbergasted Weinstein replied,  “Yes, I’m just thinking of all of these new witnesses.” 

Weinstein paused again and told the judge. “Ok, I will say yes.” 

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