Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other counts of sexual assault.
Nawab Sheriff brought the 69-year-old rapist to court in a wheelchair. He was wearing a brown prison jumpsuit and a face mask. Attorney Mark Werksman petitioned for the disgraced movie mogul one day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison sentence.
Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him good luck as the hearing ended.
He is now awaiting a second trial on the second coast, and the possibility of another lengthy verdict.
Weinstein’s charges include five women and run from 2004 to 2013. Most of the charges are said to have taken place at hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles where New York-based Weinstein would have based his Hollywood business. Some took place during Oscar week, when his films were a perennial competition before he was frustrated by the #MeToo movement.
He pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape, four counts of forced oral intercourse, two counts of sexual battery by restraint, and one count of sexual penetration with the use of force, charges that together can lead to a sentence of up to 140 years.
The women’s names are not mentioned in the indictment documents.
A New York jury found Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actor in 2013 in a Manhattan hotel room and forcibly performing oral sex on a television and film production assistant in 2006 in his Manhattan apartment.
Weinstein appeals this conviction, and seeks a new trial. He maintains his innocence and claims that any sexual activity was consensual.
Los Angeles prosecutors first indicted Weinstein in January 2020, while jury selection was underway in the New York City case.
More charges were added later in the year, and in March, a Los Angeles County grand jury indicted him.
The pandemic and procedural delays meant that Weinstein’s extradition took more than a year. His lawyers cited his deteriorating health as they sought to keep him in the state prison near Buffalo, New York, until jury selection began in the Los Angeles trial.
Officials have said that Weinstein’s time in California will count toward his sentence in New York.
Harvey Weinstein was a Hollywood superpower with his brother Bob and their film companies Miramax and The Weinstein Co. The New Yorker. He was arrested in New York seven months later.
Rumors about Weinstein’s behavior have circulated in film industry circles for decades, but he silenced many accused with bonuses, nondisclosure agreements and fear that he might crush their careers.
The Los Angeles accusations came from a task force created to tackle sexual misconduct in Hollywood as #MeToo gained momentum.
Weinstein and porn artist Ron Jeremy are among the few charged by the team, which has refused to prosecute more than 20 famous men because the allegations against them were too old or unproven.
More to track …
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