Judge Declines to Put Harvey Weinstein Under House Arrest
Harvey Weinstein arriving for his arraignment in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday. Jeenah Moon for The New York Times
A judge denied a request from prosecutors on Monday to place Harvey Weinstein under house arrest in light of new charges against the movie producer that carry a penalty of life in prison if he is convicted.
Brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, Mr. Weinstein, 66, was released on bail after pleading not guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2006.
Three women have now accused him of forcing them to have sex against their will over the last 14 years, and the new indictment includes two counts of predatory sexual assault, opening him up to a life sentence.
Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor, said Mr. Weinstein had sold a house in Connecticut, where he has been living, without telling prosecutors. Given the possibility a life sentence and Mr. Weinstein’s wealth, she urged Justice James Burke to order him held under house arrest in New York City.
“The charges he is facing now are substantially more serious than the charges he faced when he appeared before you,” she said.
But Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argued Mr. Weinstein already could have been sentenced to 25 years under a rape charge in the previous indictment, which, for a 66-year-old, is tantamount to a life sentence. He also said Mr. Weinstein had the right to stay in his Connecticut home until February under the terms of the sale.
After hearing both arguments, Justice Burke brusquely announced he would keep the bail the same. Mr. Weinstein had already put up $1 million in cash, surrendered his passport and agreed to wear a tracking device on his ankle. He may not leave New York and Connecticut.
Once one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, Mr. Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women, among them well-known actresses like Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra.
In Manhattan, he is accused of three sexual attacks. The indictment says he forced an aspiring actress to give him oral sex in his TriBeCa offices in 2004, raped another woman at a Midtown hotel in 2013 and compelled a third woman to let him give her oral sex in his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Mr. Weinstein maintains all of these encounters were consensual. Mr. Brafman said he has assembled “extraordinary documentation” supporting Mr. Weinstein’s claims the women were willing participants. He also said one of his accusers had a long romantic relationship with him that continued after the alleged attack.
“We have every reason to believe he will ultimately be exonerated,” Mr. Brafman told the judge.
Gloria Allred, a Los Angeles lawyer who is representing the former production assistant, said her client had told prosecutors the truth about being physically coerced to have sex. She pointed out Mr. Weinstein would have to take the stand if Mr. Brafman hopes to persuade a jury the encounters were between consenting adults.
“He would be subjected to what is likely to be a vigorous cross-examination by the prosecution,” she said during a news conference outside court on Monday. “Are you really willing to have your client face the jury?”
The request to place Mr. Weinstein under house arrest marked the latest in a series of moves by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., to step up pressure on him. Mr. Vance has said the grand jury is continuing to interview witnesses not only about sex crimes, but also about possible financial crimes involving the misuse of funds at The Weinstein Company.
Mr. Weinstein is charged with a raft of high-level felonies: two counts of criminal sexual act, two counts of rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault. If convicted, the minimum sentence he faces would be 10 years in prison.
Each additional accuser in the indictment makes it more challenging for Mr. Brafman to prevail at trial, since it is difficult to dismiss all of the accusers as not credible, defense lawyers say. Prosecutors have made it clear they also intend to try to introduce evidence of Mr. Weinstein’s misconduct with other women besides the three named in the indictment. That evidence would be used to show he engages in a pattern of the behavior.
Article From:- https://www.nytimes.com