LOS ANGELES (CN) – Five women who claim they were sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein will be allowed to testify for the prosecution at the disgraced Hollywood producer's trial in Los Angeles, in addition to five others Weinstein has been charged with assaulting.
Prosecutors with the LA District Attorney's had asked to call as many as 16 purported victims to beef up their case against Weinstein, with some of the proposed witnesses' allegations going back to the 1970s.
LA Court Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench on Wednesday trimmed the number of additional victims she would allow to testify to six, excluding those whose allegations pertain to events that occurred before 2000, with the exception of one victim whose experiences occurred both before and after 2000. She also limited the number of witnesses with post-2000 claims to avoid confusing the jury when the case goes to trial.
The prosecution's request and the defense objections were filed under seal, leaving the identify of the proposed witnesses mostly in the dark. The judge designated some of the proposed witnesses she said supported the prosecution's general theory of Weinstein's behavior with actresses and some of his employees, and she allowed the prosecution to pick another two from the remaining ones.
One proposed witness who won't be called is actress Daryl Hannah, who has claimed Weinstein tried to enter her hotel room during the Cannes Film Festival. Since she doesn't claim Weinstein actually assaulted her, it left the question of his intentions unanswered and made her testimony less useful to establish Weinstein's intentions in the actual assault cases with which he's been charged, Lench found.
The judge will also allow Weinstein's New York conviction of assaulting Miriam Haley, a former production assistant, to be part of the prosecution's cases.
Weinstein, 70, is tentatively scheduled to go on trial in September. He has already been convicted of assault in New York and was sentenced to 23 years prison, and has appealed that conviction. The revelation in 2017 of the powerful and influential producer's long history of sexual harassment, assault and rape sparked the #metoo movement that has since brought down a long list of predatory men in the entertainment and media industries.
Weinstein's lawyer Mark Werksman argued at Wednesday's hearing that allowing so many alleged victims, whose claims were never proven in court, to testify would only tempt the jury to punish Weinstein on conduct for which he hasn't been charged.
"Daryl is just window dressing so that the jury will hate Mr. Weinstein a little bit more," Werksman said referring to the possible testimony of Hannah. "It's inflammatory."
Werksman asked the judge to allow him to examine the alleged victims under oath before they testify at trial. The judge responded that she didn't think that was a requirement but she allowed to lawyer to brief her on any legal authority to support his request.
Weinstein, who is incarcerated in LA while awaiting trial, attended the hearing in a wheelchair. He conferred with his attorney at one point to make it known that he's denying the allegations of the additional witnesses and that he will be contesting their testimony.
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