Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been serving a 23-year prison sentence for sexual assault in New York since last year, was transferred to Los Angeles on Tuesday for a second trial in which he will face new charges. The once all-powerful Hollywood producer—whose downfall was seen as a major victory for the #MeToo movement—is accused in Los Angeles of rape and sexual assault of five women, which could land him in prison for up to an additional 140 years.
The 69-year-old left the Wende prison in upstate New York and was handed over “to the appropriate officials for transport to the state of California per a court order,” a spokesman for the New York prison authorities said in a statement. Los Angeles police confirmed Weinstein “was brought to LA stemming from an extradition warrant that was issued for several felony sexual assault charges.” “After being medically cleared for booking, he will be booked into custody,” the department tweeted.
Weinstein’s lawyers had argued for weeks against the transfer on medical grounds. But in June, New York judge Kenneth Case rejected their arguments and gave the green light to his transfer. Legal efforts to stop the extradition in Los Angeles did not reach court. “We are disappointed that the LA DA (Los Angeles district attorney) didn’t wait for the judge’s ruling, but we did expect this to happen at some point,” Weinstein’s spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, told AFP.
“We will be fighting so that Harvey can receive his needed medical care and, of course, so that he can be treated fairly.” According to California law, Weinstein’s trial must begin within 120 days of his extradition, which would be in mid-November. His lawyer Mark Werksman told the Los Angeles Times that Weinstein could appear in a Los Angeles courtroom as early as Wednesday. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office did not confirm or deny any details of Weinstein’s extradition when contacted by AFP.
Weinstein has always denied the charges, both in New York and in Los Angeles, claiming that his accusers consented. In early April, he formally appealed his conviction for rape and sexual assault in New York, which was handed down to him in March 2020 following a high-profile trial in Manhattan. In total, nearly 90 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
The Los Angeles charges include allegations from ex-model Lauren Young that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress. Los Angeles prosecutors also accuse Weinstein of raping an Italian model—whose identity, like the other three Los Angeles accusers, has not been made public—the night before he allegedly assaulted Young.—AFP