NY Judge Advances Weinstein Sex-Crimes Case

Harvey Weinstein, center, and his attorney Ben Brafman, right, appear in court in New York on Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Alec Tabak, Pool)

MANHATTAN (CN) – The sex-crimes prosecution of Harvey Weinstein can proceed into 2019, a judge ruled Thursday, rejecting a bid by the disgraced mogul to discredit his accusers.

Following a hasty hearing in the 13th floor of the New York County Criminal Court, Judge James Burke issued a 6-page opinion denying Weinstein’s request to dismantle the case.

Weinstein faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on five counts involving three alleged victims, including predatory sexual assault, rape and criminal sex act. 

Led by Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein’s defense team sought to use personal email correspondences between Weinstein and the alleged victims to prove that the women were lying in their statements to investigators about being raped or sexually harassed.

Brafman argued in filings that “the loving nature of the email exchanges between the alleged victim and her alleged rapist and the inconsistent statements she made” revealed material untruths told by the complaining witnesses in the criminal indictments against Weinstein.

Marisa Tomei, center, and Amber Tamblyn, right, leave New York Supreme Court after attending a hearing in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case on Dec. 20, 2018, in New York. Judge James Burke allowed the sexual assault case to move forward. Also pictured are actresses Jennifer Esposito and Leslie Silva (back left), Kathy Najimy (front left) and Michelle Hurd (right).
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Brafman addressed Judge Burke’s decision outside the courthouse immediately following the hearing and in a statement Thursday.

“Nothing in the court’s ruling however, removes the flawed theory of this case that we intend to vigorously defend at trial, where we are confident that Mr. Weinstein will be completely exonerated,” Brafman said. 

Weinstein did succeed in an October to have Burke boot one count related to an encounter that actress Lucia Evans described last year in an explosive article for The New Yorker.

Judge Burke set the next pretrial hearing in the case for March 7, 2019.

Brafman also argued his motions to dismiss that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance faced “political pressure” to prosecute Weinstein, but Burke called that “speculative and not grounds for dismissal” in today’s ruling.

Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Weinstein accuser Mimi Haleyi, supported Burke’s decision to allow the case to advance. “None of us are ever distracted from the fact that there’s only one person on trial here — it’s not the district attorney, it’s not the police, it’s Harvey Weinstein,” Allred said.

Back in October, Evans’ attorney Carrie Goldberg blasted the Manhattan district attorney for mishandling the case’s evidence, and addressed claims that Evans had contradicted her account of what Weinstein did to her.

“Now the DA is cowardly standing to the side as Weinstein’s attorney predictably had defamed her as an alleged perjurist and opportunist,” Goldberg wrote in October. “This whole trope of calling accusers liars and threatening them with criminal charges is the stuff of old misogynist lawyering aimed at getting women to STFU and disappear. Not going away.”

For the hearing today in downtown Manhattan, actresses Marisa Tomei and Amber Tamblyn were in attendance to show their support for the victims and the Time’s Up movement.  

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