Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein will be arraigned Monday on a superseding indictment in his Manhattan sexual assault case—a new twist that may delay his trial.
The new indictment has not been made public yet, but The New York Times reported last week that prosecutors were going before a grand jury again so that “The Sopranos” actress and alleged Weinstein accuser Annabella Sciorra can take the stand.
Sciorra has publicly alleged that Weinstein raped her in her Manhattan apartment in 1993. That incident is outside the statute of limitation, and she was not part of the original case the Manhattan District Attorney’s office brought against the toppled Hollywood titan.
The previous indictment charged Weinstein, 67, with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a sex act on a different woman in 2006. Among the charges he faces are two counts of predatory sexual assault; to convict on those, a jury would have to find that he had attacked at least two women.
Prosecutors wanted to use Sciorra as a witness to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge, but Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke said they could not do it because she had not testified before the original grand jury.
So in an Aug. 13 letter to Burke and Weinstein’s legal team, prosecutors said they were going back to a grand jury for a do-over. Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi referred in the letter to an unnamed “significant witness” that the future Weinstein jury “should have the benefit of” hearing.
Prosecutors said Thursday only that they had obtained a new indictment. They did not confirm that Sciorra’s claims are part of it.
Weinstein’s lawyers indicated the new indictment is certain to mean a delay in his trial, which was set to start Sept. 9.
“When a defendant is arraigned on an indictment he or she has 45 days to file any motions,” Arthur Aidala, Weinstein’s attorney, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “We are going to demand all of those 45 days to examine what the prosecutors file and file any motions. This is heavy intellectual legal lifting.”
“There’s a man’s life that we are protecting and we are protecting all his rights,” he added.
In a statement, Weinstein’s defense team said the DA’s maneuver is unprecedented.
“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,” they said.
“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.”
In a scandal that jump-started the #MeToo movement, Weinstein has been accused by roughly 70 women—including major stars—of a range of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. Weinstein, who could face up to life in prison if convicted, denies forcing himself on anyone.
Last week, Weinstein’s legal team asked that the trial be moved due to the “circus-like” media scrutiny in New York City that makes it “the least likely place on Earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial.” Aidala suggested the trial should instead take place in either Albany County or Suffolk County in Long Island to ensure an environment “free from intimidation” for jurors. Burke is expected to make a decision regarding the trial’s location on Monday.