The judge overseeing Harvey Weinstein’s sexual-assault case rejected his lawyers’ latest efforts to exclude actress Annabella Sciorra from the upcoming trial, upholding her ability to testify.
Justice James Burke issued a decision Tuesday denying Weinstein’s attempts to dismiss the two predatory-sexual-assault counts.
Weinstein also faces one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree as well as one count each of rape in the first and third degrees.
Weinstein faces charges for alleged nonconsensual sexual activity with two accusers, Mimi Haleyi and a still-unnamed woman. “The disgraced movie producer is not charged with Sciorra’s allegation that he raped her around late 1993.”
However, a new indictment against Weinstein in August enabled prosecutors to use Sciorra’s allegation to boost their claims of longstanding predatory behavior. (Before this August indictment, Sciorra wasn’t permitted to take the stand in this case.)
Weinstein’s lawyers subsequently asked Justice Burke to throw out the counts that enable Sciorra to testify.
They argued that Weinstein’s alleged attack on Sciorra would have been before New York’s predatory-sexual-assault law was even enacted. In their view, this would make including her legally problematic.
They also claimed the timeline Sciorra gave for the alleged rape — sometime in the winter of 1993–1994 — wasn’t specific enough.
Burke didn’t buy either argument.
He said the “aggravating factors that enhance the punishment,” in this case the alleged rape of Sciorra, “can occur before the effective date of the law.”
Plus, Weinstein is charged with alleged misdeeds said to have taken place after the law was enacted, meaning he was “on notice … that if he committed those crimes as well as other enumerated crimes … he would be subject to the enhanced penalties of that statute, precisely the legislature’s intentions when it enacted that law,” Burke wrote.
Burke said prosecutors did their best to solidify the date of Sciorra’s alleged rape.
“The Court finds that the People have shown that they have made diligent efforts to narrow down the date that this complainant alleges she was sexually assaulted by the defendant,” Burke wrote.
The prosecutors’ investigation included “contacting building management and attempting to locate former employees, seeking video recordings (which were no longer available), contacting people the complainant went to dinner with prior to the incident and other friends she spoke with after the incident, contacting the leaseholder of the apartment and searching for the sublease agreement, going to a New Jersey storage unit to look for the records and other items that had been in the complainant’s apartment at the time, and having the complainant look through photographs and records of performances and trips she had taken during that time period, all in an effort to determine the specific date of the sexual assault,” Burke noted.
Burke also cited prosecutors’ claims that Weinstein’s “own actions … led to the delayed disclosure by the complainant, thereby making it difficult to pinpoint an exact date of the alleged assault.”
Burke noted that prosecutors had pointed out how “fear of reprisal by the defendant caused her not to report it to law enforcement, and that the complainant was well aware of defendant’s tactics of intimidating people.”
Weinstein’s trial is scheduled to begin the week of January 6. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. He has maintained his innocence.