Harvey Weinstein facing new sex assault probe in New York

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Harvey Weinstein in court on Tuesday

  • Author, Graeme Baker
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

Harvey Weinstein is being investigated for “additional violent sexual assaults” months after a previous conviction in New York was overturned, a court in Manhattan has heard.

Nicole Blumberg, an assistant district attorney, told Tuesday’s hearing that the alleged assaults fell within the statute of limitations, but did not say when prosecutors would be ready to press any fresh charges.

The disgraced film mogul, 72, is already facing a retrial after his 2020 conviction for sexual assault and rape was overturned in April on the basis that it was unfair.

“As we said in 2020, there were women who were not ready to proceed with the legal process. Some of those women are now ready to proceed,” Ms Blumberg told Tuesday’s hearing.

Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala told the hearing that the new investigations were a delay tactic, adding: “Once again we have a hotline: 1-800 Get Harvey.”

Mr Aidala added that his client was suffering from a host of medical problems while being held in solitary confinement at New York’s Rikers Island jail.

Weinstein was brought into court on Tuesday with his left hand cuffed to his wheelchair.

Weinstein’s 2020 conviction was crucial for the #MeToo movement, in which women accused hundreds of men in the media of sexual misconduct.

The Miramax film studio founder was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting production assistant Miriam Haley and raping actress Jessica Mann.

However, the New York Court of Appeals in April found evidence presented about Weinstein’s “prior bad acts” from three witnesses unconnected to the charges against him violated the right to a fair trial.

Members of the #MeToo movement described the decision as “profoundly unjust”, while lawyers for his victims said the decision to retry was a “leap backwards” and “tragic”.

A retrial has been scheduled to begin after the Labour Day holiday on 2 September, although no specific date has been set. Ms Blumberg said on Tuesday that prosecutors could realistically go to trial in November.

Weinstein was also convicted to 16 years following a separate rape trial in California. That conviction was not affected by the New York appeal court’s decision, and he has not begun serving the California sentence.

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He denies all charges against him.

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