Harvey Weinstein indicted on sex assault charges in Los Angeles, extradition from N.Y. delayed
A grand jury returned an indictment against Harvey Weinstein in L.A. County in connection with the sexual assaults of five women between 2004 and 2013.
Harvey Weinstein has been indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County and could be extradited here to answer those charges later this month, attorneys said Monday.
Weinstein, 69, faces four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration by force connected to the alleged assaults of five women in West L.A. and Beverly Hills that took place between 2004 and 2013, prosecutors have said.
The indictment returned by a grand jury upholds those charges without adding any new counts or any new alleged victims, according to the sources with direct knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the indictment candidly. All five accusers testified during the grand jury hearings, as is required under California law, according to three of the sources.
Several sources described the indictment as a procedural move, meant to skip a preliminary hearing and hopefully preempt potential speedy-trial issues in Weinstein’s case. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a severe backlog of trials in L.A. County, and the county’s courts continue to enforce strict social distancing protocols and limit the number of people who can enter courthouses.
Few trials have taken place in L.A. County since last March, and jury selection for a case like Weinstein’s under the court’s current rules could prove to be an arduous task.
During a hearing that could have resulted in Weinstein’s extradition to Los Angeles on Monday, attorney Norman Effman described the indictment as “very similar to the original felony complaint.” He noted one of the 11 counts had been modified, but did not elaborate.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to answer any questions about the status of the Weinstein case. The indictment remains under seal and subject to a protective order, though Effman referenced it several times in court Monday.
In a statement, Weinstein’s defense attorney Mark Werksman dismissed the indictment as stemming from “stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement.”
“We’re confident that Mr. Weinstein will be acquitted because there’s no credible evidence against him,” he said.
Weinstein’s legal team contends a biased juror, prejudicial witnesses and several errors committed by a New York City judge invalidate the conviction.
Weinstein has been held at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y., since last March, when he was sentenced to 23 years in state prison after his conviction on rape charges in Manhattan. The Miramax co-founder has denied all wrongdoing and is appealing that conviction, but the California case is expected to proceed first.
An extradition hearing that could have kickstarted the process of sending Weinstein to Los Angeles was held Monday afternoon in Erie County, N.Y., but a judge continued the hearing to April 30 after Effman argued Los Angeles County prosecutors had committed several procedural errors in their filing seeking extradition. The return of an indictment against Weinstein may have created a new case identification number for the filing, Effman said.
“The D.A. flubbed the paperwork,” said Werksman. “They had weeks to submit the proper paperwork in support of their extradition request and they didn’t get it right.”
During a news conference following the hearing, Erie County Dist. Atty. John Flynn dismissed Werksman’s criticisms, noting L.A. County prosecutors can simply correct the errors by the next court date, rendering Effman’s argument “moot.”
If a judge eventually approves the extradition request, prosecutors would still have to wait 30 days to have Weinstein brought to Los Angeles, because the mogul’s defense team is expected to petition New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who would have the authority to block the request. If Cuomo does not act, Weinstein would be extradited to Los Angeles as soon as the 30-day period expired.
Effman said Monday that he has repeatedly asked L.A. County prosecutors to consider letting Weinstein be arraigned on the Los Angeles charges remotely, because he has two surgeries scheduled in New York to deal with a number of severe medical issues.
Weinstein, appearing in a red sweater, did not speak during the hearing but the walker he used to move around a Manhattan courthouse last year could be seen on camera.
Weinstein “is almost technically blind at this point,” according to Effman, and one of the surgeries is needed to deal with his vision problems. Attorneys first revealed Weinstein was relying on injections to maintain his eyesight following his conviction in February 2020. Weinstein was also hospitalized for heart palpitations shortly after his conviction and is still suffering from cardiac issues, Effman said.
Flynn said Weinstein’s medical issues were irrelevant to the extradition proceedings.
“I really don’t care about his medical condition. I’m not trying to be crass here, OK, but I’m not really concerned with the issues he has. I’m more concerned about the victims in California,” Flynn said. “I’m more concerned about helping my colleagues in the L.A. D.A.’s office bring him to justice.”
The charges against Weinstein in Los Angeles stem from accusations levied by five women who say the disgraced Hollywood mogul attacked them in West L.A. and Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013.
One accuser, Lauren Young, was called as a “prior bad acts” witness against Weinstein during his New York trial. The Pennsylvania woman alleged Weinstein lured her into his room after a meeting at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2013, where the mogul allegedly grabbed her breast and masturbated before she fled.
A second accuser in the Los Angeles case is an Italian model who previously told The Times Weinstein attacked her inside Mr. C’s hotel in Beverly Hills in 2013. The woman, whose identity has not been made public, reported the assault to the Los Angeles Police Department in 2017, sparking an investigation that led to the filing of charges early last year.
The identities of the three other accusers have yet to be made public. In total, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse.
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