A New York judge declined to dismiss sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein Thursday, rejecting the latest push from the disgraced film producer’s lawyers to have his indictment thrown out.
Judge James Burke’s ruling buoyed a prosecution that has appeared on rocky ground in recent months amid a prolonged defence effort to raise doubts about the case and the police investigation.
Weinstein’s lawyers argued the case had been “irreparably tainted” by a detective’s alleged coaching of a potential witness and one of the accusers. They also said the grand jury should have been shown evidence that Weinstein had exchanged friendly emails with his two accusers after the alleged attacks.
But Burke ruled that Weinstein’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct had “no basis.” He also denied Weinstein’s request for an evidentiary hearing.
Weinstein’s next court date is scheduled for March 7.
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His defence attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said he was disappointed with Burke’s ruling, but said he remains confident Weinstein will be “completely exonerated” at trial.
“We intend to vigorously defend this case to the best of our ability,” Brafman told reporters after the hearing. “It does not in any way suggest that the case against Mr. Weinstein is going to end badly.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. He left court without commenting.
He is charged with raping an unidentified female acquaintance in his hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.
Images of Weinstein, the notoriously bombastic producer of Oscar winners “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient,” in handcuffs last spring were seen by many women as a cathartic moment in the #MeToo reckoning. About half a dozen women supporting Time’s Up, including actresses Amber Tamblyn and Marisa Tomei, were at the hearing Thursday.
“Today, here in New York, we saw the first steps towards justice,” Time’s Up President Lisa Borders said after the judge’s ruling.
Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press