We may not have Jeffrey Epstein for justice against sexual predators, but by God we still have Big Harv. After a judge balked at prosecutors’ strategy to include testimony over uncharged allegations to establish Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior, the New York district attorney filed a new indictment adding two new charges against Weinstein. That will allow a Very Special Guest Star to testify at the Hollywood mogul’s trial … when it finally takes place:
Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two new counts of sexual assault in New York City on Monday after prosecutors in Manhattan sought to introduce a new accuser to the case just weeks before the disgraced mogul’s criminal trial was set to begin.
Weinstein’s trial date had been set for Sept. 9. But after prosecutors presented a new indictment containing two new allegations of predatory sexual assault, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke pushed the trial date back to January 2020.
Earlier this month, Burke blocked prosecutors’ attempt to include an allegation that Weinstein had committed rape in 1993 to the current criminal case, noting that evidence had not been presented to the grand jury that indicted Weinstein on charges of predatory sexual assault and rape last year.
As a result, prosecutors re-presented their case to a grand jury this month, leading to the new indictment. Weinstein was originally facing two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of rape in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree.
As the video above reports, the new allegation comes from actor Annabella Sciorra, whose film career mysteriously dissipated after impactful appearances in Jungle Fever and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Sciorra’s career arc seems similar to that of Mira Sorvino’s, who went from Academy Award-winning status to barely visible in the same time period — and who had also run afoul of Weinstein. Sciorra went public with her assault accusation early in the exposure of Weinstein, but it’s only now that prosecutors want to add that to Weinstein’s laundry list of alleged crimes.
It’s not going to be an easy road for either Sciorra nor the prosecutors. Weinstein’s attorneys called the case “weak” and “desperate,” and the delay in presenting the case seems to indicate at least some hesitancy on the part of prosecutors to pursue it. Nevertheless, Gloria Allred, who represents Sciorra as well as another Weinstein accuser, predicts that Sciorra will be an important witness in the upcoming trial. Allred points out that Sciorra’s not going to get “any personal benefit” from undergoing the cross-examination that Weinstein’s attorneys will conduct when she gets to the stand:
By adding Sciorra’s allegations to the indictment, prosecutors will have more room to establish patterns of predatory behavior in testimony. His defense team will argue that the statute of limitations had already run out on these allegations, but it might still be enough to have a grand jury find the allegations credible. The judge’s earlier ruling didn’t necessarily hinge on formal charges, but the fact that prosecutors had not allowed the grand jury to review Sciorra’s claims first.
That should worry Weinstein, but apparently he had better things to do while in court:
Weinstein entered a Manhattan court house looking visibly thinner and walking with a pronounced limp. The producer was reprimanded by New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke at one point in the 10-minute hearing for using his cellphone.
“Please refrain from doing that,” Burke said. “It’s a court order.”
When asked directly if he wanted to go to trial by Burke, Weinstein said, “not really.” His response drew scattered laughter.
What could have been more important to Weinstein than the hearing? A film deal? Let’s hope not.
Addendum: By the way, a new trailer has been released for a film called Bombshell, which will retell the story of Fox News’ sexual harassment scandal. It comes out later in the year and stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, so it’s a top-shelf effort. Where is Hollywood’s retelling of the Weinstein saga? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?