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Harvey Weinstein’s Attorney Says Timing of New Charges in Los Angeles Is ‘Very Suspect’


On the same day the rape trial of disgraced movie mogul and prominent Democratic Party donor Harvey Weinstein began in New York City, Los Angeles prosecutors have charged Weinstein with rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

Los Angeles County authorities announced the charges in a press release on Monday:

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that film producer Harvey Weinstein has been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.

Defendant Weinstein (dob 3/19/52) was charged in case BA483663 with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. Arraignment will be scheduled for a later date.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said that the evidence against Weinstein would show he “used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them.”

“I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward,” Lacey said.

Prosecutors allege that on Feb. 18, 2013 Weinstein raped a woman in her hotel room and then sexually assaulted a woman the next day in a Beverly Hills hotel suite. Weinstein, 67, faces up to 28 years in a California state prison if convicted on these charges.

The Law&Crime Network, which is covering the trial in New York, got video of Weinstein’s lawyers responding to questions outside of the courthouse on Monday. One reporter asked about the possibility of new criminal charges in Los Angeles.

“Do you expect that your client is going to be indicted in LA during this trial?” the reporter asked.

One of Weinstein’s defense lawyers, Damon Cheronis, answered that the timing of such an indictment would be “very suspect.”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re hoping not, for sure. I think if that happened it would be pretty obvious as to why. The timing would be very suspect. Mr. Weinstein is certainly looking forward to getting this case out of the way. We don’t have any control over what happens in Los Angeles or anywhere else,” he said around the 4:00-minute mark in the video above.

Donna Rotunno, another one of Weinstein’s defense attorneys, said Monday that she believes that New York prosecutors “[don’t] want our side to have a voice.”

“I think they believe their side of the story is the only one that matters and the only one that counts. And that’s what this trial is for. This trial is to show the jury, the State of New York and the rest of the world that there’s more to this than what they would like everyone to believe,” she said.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 80 women. He faces five counts in New York City connected to just two accusers. The defendant allegedly sexually assaulted Mimi Haleyi in a SoHo loft in 2006 and raped an unnamed woman in a hotel room in 2013. The charges are two counts of predatory sexual assault, first-degree rape, third-degree rape of a person unable to consent for a reason other than her age, and performing a criminal sex act in the first degree.

Rotunno has asserted Weinstein made moral mistakes by cheating on his wife. She maintains, however, that Weinstein didn’t commit criminal acts.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

Jury selection in the New York trial is set for Tuesday.

Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.

[Image via Kevin Hagen/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.