Harvey Weinstein made his first appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, pleading not guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault and kicking off a legal process that will see him stand trial for alleged attacks on women that, in some cases, happened nearly two decades ago.
Weinstein, 69, was indicted in April on multiple counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual battery. He faces 11 charges in connection with alleged assaults that took place between 2004 and 2013 in Beverly Hills and West L.A.
The disgraced Hollywood mogul, who is already serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York after he was convicted of sexual assault in a Manhattan trial last year, was extradited to California on Tuesday over the objections of his defense attorneys, who say he desperately needs surgery to avoid losing his eyesight. Weinstein has denied all wrongdoing and appealed his conviction in New York.
On Wednesday, Weinstein appeared in a downtown L.A. criminal courthouse wearing a brown jail jumper and seated in a wheelchair. He did not speak during the arraignment except to say “thank you” after the judge wished him good luck. During the brief hearing, defense attorney Mark Werksman said he had filed a motion to dismiss three of the 11 counts against Weinstein, claiming the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes had long expired.
Werksman said the counts relate to allegations levied by two different women involving assaults in 2004, 2005 and 2010. A hearing on the dismissal motion will be heard July 29.
Former Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey first brought charges against Weinstein in January 2020, on the eve of jury selection in the Manhattan case. While several alleged victims came forward to the Los Angeles Police Department in 2017, shortly after reports of Weinstein’s alleged predatory behavior first surfaced, prosecutors said they needed years to win over the women’s trust and verify their stories.
Only one woman’s identity has been made public. Lauren Young, an aspiring actress who was 23 at the time of the alleged assault, has accused Weinstein of trapping her in a room at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills and groping her while he masturbated. Young testified as a “prior bad acts” witness during the mogul’s New York trial.
A second alleged victim in the L.A. case, an Italian model who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity in 2017, has said Weinstein attacked her inside Mr. C’s hotel in Beverly Hills in 2013. The woman alleged Weinstein barged into her hotel room and violently raped her.
Unlike his New York hearings, Weinstein’s first L.A. appearance was a more muted affair. Roughly two dozen reporters and attorneys lined the 13th floor of the downtown criminal courthouse waiting for the mogul’s arrival Wednesday morning. Among them was Gloria Allred, who is representing two of the victims whose allegations led to charges in the Los Angeles case, and several other women who could serve as witnesses against Weinstein at trial.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Allred said Wednesday’s hearing was significant as it marked the first time Weinstein had to answer for allegations in California, where many accusers waited while Weinstein first stood trial in New York.
“There has been, to date, no access to justice for those who are victims in the Los Angeles case,” she said.
The indictment against Weinstein was unsealed Wednesday, and he has a right to stand trial within 120 days of his extradition, meaning proceedings will take place by mid-November unless his defense counsel waives that right. Werksman said Wednesday he had yet to do so, while saying the charges against his client are “unprovable.”
“These charges stem from allegations made years and years ago,” he said. “They are not confirmed by scientific evidence.”
There also was no forensic evidence presented in the Manhattan trial, where Weinstein ultimately was convicted of sexually assaulting a former production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, and an aspiring actress, Jessica Mann.