Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two newly added charges of predatory sexual assault as he was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday, Aug. 26.
It was the prosecution team’s wish to add another witness, 33-year-old “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who claims Weinstein raped her in 1993. The revised charges are necessary to form the legal basis for the inclusion of Sciorra’s testimony.
The defense loathed what they called the prosecution team’s “11th-hour maneuver” to add another witness to the case and suggested it is an attempt to give the case more weight.
“This Monday, Harvey Weinstein will appear in court for what is an unprecedented fourth arraignment in his criminal matter,” Weinstein’s lawyers Donna Rotunno and Arthur Aidala said in a statement, reported by the Los Angeles Times.
“There has been no case in recent memory where a district attorney has gone back to the grand jury on two separate occasions to re-present a case before that body in the hopes of obtaining an indictment that can withstand the scrutiny of a trial jury,” it continued.
“This action by the prosecutor bespeaks the desperation that has engulfed their case. We have reached the point where one must be concerned that these desperate measures indicate more of a focus on obtaining a conviction at all costs than on seeking justice.”
Sciorra’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said at a press conference after the hearing: “I admire Annabella’s courage,” Allred said. “She has been willing to testify when asked to do so because she feels that it is in the interest of justice for the jury to hear and evaluate all relevant evidence in order for them to decide the appropriate verdict in this case,” Vanity Fair reported.
But, because Sciorra’s testimony will be added, Weinstein’s hearing, which was scheduled for September 9, has been postponed until Jan. 6, 2020.
The disgraced mogul’s trial has also been pushed back to January—a point of consternation for Judge Burke https://t.co/2R80PXSiv3
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) August 26, 2019
Weinstein’s defense attorney said the indictment with the additional charges “raises significant legal issues” for the defense to prepare for and will need the additional time.
Weinstein now faces sex-crime related charges, with two rape charges on top of what he had already been charged with: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of first-degree rape, and one count of third-degree rape.
More than 80 women stepped forward accusing 67-year-old-Weinstein with sexual abuse in the past four decades, yet only six of these accusations have ever led to legal charges in a trial until now.
The defense has requested in a court filling to have the future hearings take place outside of Manhattan, stating:
“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” The Guardian reported.
Weinstein always maintained his innocence, stating that all of his sexual encounters were consensual.