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Harvey Weinstein to appear in court Monday on indictment not yet made public

Posted at 6:03 AM, Aug 26, 2019

Harvey Weinstein, the movie producer facing sexual assault charges, will appear in court Monday to be arraigned on an indictment, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

The indictment, which was returned by a grand jury, has not been publicly disclosed. It's not clear whether additional charges will be brought against Weinstein.

The last-minute court hearing Monday could also take up Weinstein's request to have the case moved out of New York, as well as the possibility of "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra testifying in the case.

"An appearance has been scheduled for Monday, August 26 for the defendant to be arraigned on an indictment," the district attorney's office said Thursday, adding "the defendant is expected to be present."

Prosecutors have been jockeying for months to get the actress' account into the trial to support charges of predatory sexual assault against Weinstein.

The current charges stem from accounts from two women, but Sciorra is not one of them.

Sciorra has publicly accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her inside her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993.

Change of venue request

Weinstein's attorneys want his trial moved out of the city, but prosecutors rejected that argument in court documents filed Friday.

Attorneys with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office say that Weinstein's request should be denied.

Weinstein and his attorneys have "failed to meet his burden of showing that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had in New York County or that media coverage of his case will have any less impact on the residents of Suffolk or Albany counties, who have access to the same news sources and social media as their counterparts in Manhattan," say the documents filed Friday.

The prosecution said the request should be viewed as a "transparent attempt" to delay the proceedings of his trial, which is set to begin September 9.

The filing comes after Weinstein's attorney said he cannot get a fair criminal trial in New York City and asked to move it elsewhere -- possibly to upstate New York or Long Island. Weinstein, the 67-year-old disgraced movie producer, is accused of raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.

He faces five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.

Despite the trial's rapidly approaching start, his attorney Arthur Aidala has asked for a stay in the proceedings as the court considers the change-of-venue motion.

He listed Albany or Suffolk County as possible alternatives to New York City for the trial. Albany, the state capital, is roughly 150 miles north of New York City, and Suffolk County is on eastern Long Island.

'Ground zero' for #MeToo activism

Attorneys with the Manhattan DA's office argue that online media publication allows individuals, regardless of where they are located, to access news coverage. They also say Weinstein's request ignores "the reality that nearly all of the news outlets covering this case have the resources, interest, and ability to travel to Suffolk and Albany Counties" if the trial were to be moved.

They also contend that if the trial was moved out of New York City, they would lose "its rich base of jurors from vastly varied backgrounds" that would allow a greater chance of ensuring a pool of impartial jurors, court documents state.

Aidala, Weinstein's attorney, had blamed a "deluge of local, national and international news, press coverage and online social media hysteria that has universally demonized defendant and prejudged him as guilty, not just of the crimes charged, but of many, many others."

And he said New York City is particularly hostile to Weinstein.

"Political, cultural and social organizations with headquarters in Manhattan ("MeToo" and "Times Up") were catapulted to prominence as a direct result of Harvey Weinstein's arrest in this case and New York City is ground zero in their activism, with such activities as the so-called women's march, and the rallying cry "believe all women," a position that is antithetical to due process," Aidala wrote.

The attorney also said Weinstein's court appearances "have been characterized by a circus-like atmosphere," including appearances by celebrities "to show support for complainants they do not even know."

He said an internet search of the New York Post's Page Six, "a mainstay of local New York City news and the name Harvey Weinstein in 2019, yields over 11,000 hits."

"This is a mere prelude to what will greet the jurors on every newsstand and on the courthouse steps, as they make their way through the city each day to perform their duties."