Harvey Weinstein to be rearraigned as DA seeks actress's testimony
Harvey Weinstein is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on a new indictment, court officials said, as prosecutors seek to bolster their case with testimony from an actress who has accused him of a 1993 rape.
The disgraced movie mogul is due in court for the arraignment on the same day an appeals court judge is expected to rule on his lawyers' request to move his trial out of New York City.
Prosecutors have said that the new indictment is meant to fix a problem with the existing indictment and won't result in additional charges. Nor should it delay Weinstein's trial, which is scheduled to start Sept. 9.
Weinstein's lawyers called the prosecutor's decision to schedule a new arraignment "desperate measures" that "indicate more of a focus on obtaining a conviction at all costs than on seeking justice."
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office sought out the new indictment after a judge ruled that the actress, Anabella Sciorra, couldn't testify at Weinstein's trial because she hadn't appeared before the grand jury that handed up the existing indictment.
Sciorra isn't one of the women whose allegations led to criminal charges against Weinstein, but prosecutors said in letters to the judge and Weinstein's lawyers last week that her testimony was vital to supporting charges that allege he's a sexual predator who committed sex crimes against multiple women.
Weinstein's lawyers had argued that prosecutors no longer had a legal foundation for those charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction, after they dropped a charge last year involving another accuser.
Judge James Burke has ruled that other accusers who aren't involved in the criminal case can testify as prosecutors look to show a pattern of misconduct.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex and is free on $1 million US bail.
Sciorra, known for her work on The Sopranos, alleges Weinstein forced himself inside her Manhattan apartment, threw her on the bed and raped her after she starred in a film for his movie studio in 1993. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Sciorra has made her story public.
Sciorra told the story to The New Yorker in October 2017, but prosecutors said she didn't come forward to them until after Weinstein's arrest in May 2018.
Weinstein's lawyers, in an Aug. 14 letter to Burke and prosecutors, called the push for a new indictment an "eleventh hour manoeuvre" and accused the district attorney's office of "illegal actions."
Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast rejected those allegations, stating in an Aug. 15 reply that Weinstein's lawyers were told of Sciorra's potential testimony in February and that they only objected to it in June.
Meanwhile, a ruling is expected Monday on Weinstein lawyer Arthur Aidala's long-shot motion filed with the New York State appellate court last week seeking to move the trial — possibly to upstate Albany County or Suffolk County on Long Island.
The motion cited the intense media coverage and circus-like atmosphere surrounding Weinstein's past court appearances in Manhattan, even noting that Weinstein's name was mentioned online on the New York Post's gossip column Page Six more than 11,000 times.