Lawyers for convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein succeeded in delaying his extradition to Los Angeles Monday after prosecutors there unveiled a secret indictment against him in a move to expedite his coming California trial.
The indictment, which was passed by a grand jury some weeks ago, is similar to the felony complaint filed against Weinstein earlier this year by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, charging him with 11 counts of rape, sexual battery, and other crimes.
Legal experts say the indictment was an attempt by prosecutors to push forward on the former film producer’s Los Angeles trial, which has been delayed by the pandemic.
Weinstein’s attorney, Norman Effman, seemed determined not to let that happen.
At a virtual hearing in Erie County court, Effman said Weinstein’s extradition should be delayed until he could receive two previously scheduled medical procedures: one dealing with his sight (the attorney said his 69-year-old client was “almost technically blind”) and another with his teeth (Effman claimed he had already lost four).
But it was his legal argument—that the extradition request appeared not to have been signed off by a judge—that convinced Judge Kenneth Case. Over the protests of Erie County Assistant DA Colleen Curtin Gable, Case gave the defense team a week to file its complaint in writing and the state a week to respond, setting a second court hearing for April 30.
“We are not looking to prevent [the Los Angeles trial], but are only seeking to keep Mr. Weinstein under the medical care here in New York that we began and that is needed until the LA DA is ready to begin jury selection,” Effman said in a statement.
If the legal and humanitarian arguments fail, Weinstein’s only other option is to appeal to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to block his extradition—something that seems unlikely given the governor’s own recent sexual harassment scandal.
Weinstein appeared remotely from the maximum-security prison near Buffalo, where he is serving a 23-year term after being found guilty of rape and a criminal sexual act in New York in March of last year.
Weinstein’s attorneys appealed that conviction last week, claiming the disgraced movie mogul did not receive a fair trial and that his sentence was “harsh and excessive.” Among other things, the defense attorneys claimed a juror who had written a book about predatory older men “tainted” the trial with her “strong and disqualifying bias in favor of the prosecution.”
Also observing the proceedings Monday was Weinstein’s recently acquired Los Angeles attorney, Mark Werksman, who told Fox News on Sunday that the California charges were “stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible.”
Weinstein apparently had yet to meet Werksman in person and offered his thanks for what he called an “awesome” statement on the charges at the beginning of the hearing.
“The reaction to the article on Fox News was like three to one in favor of us,” he said, apparently unaware his comments were being live-streamed.
The charges in the Los Angeles cases stem from allegations by five women between the years of 2004 and 2013. Among them is model and actress Lauren Young, who claimed the producer groped her and masturbated in front of her at the Beverly Hills hotel in February 2013, just days after allegedly raping an Italian model at the same hotel.
All five women testified at the grand jury trial, according to the Los Angeles Times.