Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges in LA

21 July 2021, 20:26

The former film producer and convicted rapist has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault
The former film producer and convicted rapist has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault in Los Angeles.

The disgraced Hollywood mogul, 69, was brought into court on Wednesday in a wheelchair after losing his bid to block extradition from New York.

Weinstein appeared in the city where he made his name as a producer, charged with 11 counts of sexual assault in California relating to five women.

The charges include four counts of rape and two counts of sexual battery, meaning he faces up to 140 years in prison.

His lawyer, Mark Werksman, entered a not guilty plea to all charges and said he planned to challenge three of the counts, citing the state's statute of limitations.

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Weinstein, wearing a creased, brown prison-issue shirt and trousers with a blue disposable face mask, spoke briefly during the five-minute part of the hearing open to the public.

Judge Sergio Tapia told him, "good luck Mr Weinstein", to which the convicted rapist replied: "Thank you very much."

No bail was granted.

Weinstein was flown to Los Angeles from New York, where he is serving a 23-year sentence for rape.

He spent the night in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in the downtown area of the city.

The California allegations are linked to incidents said to have happened in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.

Weinstein was first charged in Los Angeles in January 2020 as his New York trial was getting under way.

He is appealing against his New York rape conviction.

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Prosecutors in Los Angeles have 120 days to bring Weinstein to trial under the terms of the extradition agreement.

Weinstein's lawyers had fought the extradition, arguing he was in poor health.

The Oscar-winning producer's ailments include diabetes, extensive coronary artery disease, anaemia, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnoea and chronic lower back pain, they said.

Famed feminist lawyer Gloria Allred represents two of the accusers in the California case and said Weinstein's medical issues should not prevent him from standing trial.

Speaking at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Centre where Weinstein appeared, she told the PA news agency: "There are people in Los Angeles county jail who have far worse medical problems than Mr Weinstein.

"There are people who are totally visually impaired. There are people who are completely paralysed. There are people who have very serious medical issues. They do not escape justice as long as they are competent to stand trial.

"I have no doubt he is competent. To me it's just a very flimsy excuse that ultimately was not bought by the judge as a reason not to extradite him."

Weinstein had been a feared figure in Hollywood for decades when scores of women came forward in October 2017 alleging he had assaulted them.

The accusers included A-list actresses and anonymous assistants, and the complaints ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.

His downfall fuelled the #MeToo movement, a sexual misconduct reckoning which spread far beyond the entertainment industry.

Weinstein continues to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex.