Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to new predatory sexual assault charges

Posted at 8:32 AM, Aug 26, 2019

Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two new predatory sexual assault charges in a Manhattan criminal court on Monday.

The disgraced media mogul already faced five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, and his attorneys have said the acts were consensual.

While these are two new charges, prosecutors said that if the judge finds them duplicative of the existing predatory sexual assault charges, then they would want to move forward on the new charges. That would effectively swap out the old predatory sexual assault charges for the new ones.

New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke set a schedule for a briefing on whether or not to drop the old charges.

Prosecutors said the case does not change with this new indictment.

"There (are) absolutely no surprises here, there is nothing new here," the prosecutor told the court.

Weinstein's defense attorney Donna Rotunno said that the new indictment showed prosecutors are "desperate." She said they will file motions to dismiss this new indictment.

"It's not new. It's a new way to attempt to do it," she said.

Weinstein's trial is now expected to begin January 6. During a scheduling conversation the judge asked him, "do you want to go to trial?"

"Not really, not with this weak case," he replied.

Possibility of 'Sopranos' actress testimony

The court hearing comes almost two years after the New Yorker and The New York Times first reported on Weinstein's alleged predatory behavior as the head of The Weinstein Company. Those allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape, including of prominent actresses, helped spark the worldwide #MeToo movement that has sought to hold accountable men who abuse their power.

Monday's court hearing could also take up the possibility of "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra testifying in the case, as well as Weinstein's request to move the trial out of New York City.

Prosecutors have been jockeying for months to get the actress' account into the trial to support charges of predatory sexual assault against Weinstein.

To be found guilty of predatory sexual assault , prosecutors will have to prove Weinstein sexually assaulted more than one victim. The current charges stem from accounts from two women, but Sciorra is not one of them.

Sciorra has publicly accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her inside her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993.

Manhattan prosecutors included Sciorra in an amended bill of particulars outlining their case in February to support charges of predatory sexual assault.

The defense sought to keep her from testifying, saying it effectively charged him with a new crime that was never presented to the grand jury, and a judge agreed. In response to the ruling, Manhattan prosecutors convened another grand jury this month resulting in this latest indictment, which will be unsealed Monday.

In addition, Weinstein's attorneys have asked that his trial be moved out of New York City to avoid its "circus-like atmosphere." But prosecutors rejected that argument in court documents filed Friday and said the request was a "transparent" attempt to delay the start of the trial.