Harvey Weinstein was secretly indicted on rape charges by a grand jury in Los Angeles, according to a report.
The indictment came ‘a couple of weeks ago’ and closely resembles a criminal complaint filed in January 2020 by former DA Jackie Lacey, Fox News reported.
It will likely facilitate the disgraced movie mogul’s extradition from New York, where he is already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault.
Weinstein faces 11 counts in California, including rape and sexual battery involving five incidents between 2004 and 2013.
If convicted, the former Hollywood producer faces up to 140 years in prison.
Fox reported that the sealed indictment, along with the arrest warrant for Weinstein, are expected to be made public on Monday afternoon following an extradition hearing in Erie, New York.
Harvey Weinstein (pictured) was secretly indicted on rape charges by a grand jury in Los Angeles, according to a report. The indictment came ‘a couple of weeks ago’ and closely resembles a criminal complaint filed in January 2020 by former DA Jackie Lacey, Fox News reported [File photo]
The Los Angeles DA’s office did not respond to inquiries by Fox regarding the indictment.
An attorney for two of Weinstein’s five accusers in the LA case declined to comment.
The LA case against Weinstein, 69, has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but the DA’s office reportedly did not want to wait any longer to proceed.
Weinstein, is currently serving his sentence at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, a maximum-security prison. Through his lawyer, has denied all charges against him.
‘These are stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement and we’re confident that Mr. Weinstein will be acquitted because there’s no credible evidence against him. He’s innocent,’ defense lawyer Mark Werksman said.
In Monday’s hearing, Weinstein’s attorneys are expected to ask for a delay to the extradition because his reportedly poor health could put him at risk due to the pandemic.
If the expected request is refused, Weinstein could be extradited to Los Angeles within 30 days.
Experts said an indictment can help LA prosecutors streamline legal proceedings by going straight to trial.
If the extradition had been done solely on the basis of a criminal complaint, a preliminary hearing would have been required.
‘This process will eliminate the need for a preliminary hearing which is kind of a minitrial like we saw in the OJ case: there was the trial before the trial,’ criminal defense attorney Troy Slaten told Fox News, referring to the 1994-5 OJ Simpson murder trial.
Gloria Allred (pictured), who represents two of Weinstein’s five accusers, has said she is hopeful he will soon appear in court in the West Coast [File photo]
Gloria Allred, who represents two of Weinstein’s five accusers, has said she is hopeful he will soon appear in court in the West Coast.
‘It appears to me that Mr. Weinstein does not wish to be removed to Los Angeles to face charges, but justice delayed is justice denied,’ the prominent women’s rights lawyer said.
Allred represents Mimi Haleyi, one of the women whose accusations Weinstein was found guilty of in his New York trial over a year ago.
In the LA case, she is defending an unnamed woman as well as model and actress Lauren Young, who came forward as a witness in Weinstein’s New York criminal trial.
Young testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in February 2013.
She said that she was trapped in a bathroom with the producer who allegedly groped her while masturbating.
LA prosecutors allege that Weinstein raped another woman at a Beverly Hills hotel on February 18, 2013 – just a day before the alleged attack against Young.
The three other women involved in the LA case were also allegedly assaulted at Beverly Hills hotels.
Regardless of the outcome of the LA case, Weinstein would have to return to New York to serve the remainder of his 23-year-sentence.
Earlier this month, Weinstein filed an appeal on his rape and sex crimes conviction, claiming he didn’t receive a fair trial and that the incidents were ‘indisputably consensual’ and that many of the women who gave evidence at his trial just think he is ‘loathsome’.
His lawyers filed a 166-page appeal in Manhattan on April 5, in which they claimed the judge allowed too much testimony about Weinstein’s reputation and character.
Weinstein was convicted of one count of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree last February. He was cleared of three other charges. He was sentenced on March 11.
‘Simply put, the prosecution tried Weinstein’s character, not his conduct,’ his attorneys said in their appeal on Monday.
‘With a year behind us and emotions subsided, the transcript of the case confirms what we always believed: that Mr. Weinstein did not receive a fair trial… We have the utmost confidence that the Appellate Division will correct these mistakes and send this case back before a different judge, ‘ they said.
They say the jury ignored the facts of the case, focusing instead on the public persona of Weinstein that had been created, and that the incidents themselves were ‘indisputably’ consensual.