Evidence to corroborate Harvey Weinstein’s accusers’ accounts is piling up against the former movie mogul.
Prosecutors may propose witnesses to the jury who will support testimony from women Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault. There will be a total of nine prosecutors. Of the nine, Weinstein is on trial for raping four of them. The rest are victims of unlawful sexual assault by Weinstein.
Judge Lisa Lench ruled Friday that she will allow the testimony of a witness who corroborates the story of an alleged victim of Weinstein who is expected to testify at the trial, but who is not among the women accused of rape. The prosecution wanted to nominate two witnesses, while the defense wanted to exclude both.
As an exception to rumours, so-called “new complaint” witnesses may be introduced. That’s not the case here, attorney Mark Werksman said, because “if it’s eight years later and an alleged victim is prying loose after it’s been widely publicized that the accused has been arrested for assault, it’s just rumours.”
Prosecutor Paul Thompson emphasized that the judge has typically allowed at least one “new complaint” witness and “possibly two if the second adds something to the conversation”. Of one of the potential witnesses, Thompson said he added a “very early disclosure” and that he was “very specific about when it happened” during the 2008 financial crisis — the year the prosecutor was allegedly attacked.
Thompson added that the purpose of the witnesses’ testimony is not the content of what they say, but the disclosure. “The purpose is to show when the disclosure was made, that a disclosure was made and that it was made against the accused,” he said.
Arguments about the size of the witnesses who testified against Weinstein and the statements of those who testified against him flared up when the prosecution wanted to allow a witness to testify about an earlier confession by Weinstein at a 1998 settlement conference where he encountered problems. has permission.
According to Werksman, Weinstein said “something along the lines of, ‘Sometimes I don’t know when things are consensual. I try to learn. Sometimes I don’t recognize my power.'” He argued that the witness’ testimony is a “back door” to sneak in evidence of another alleged attack, that settlement references are out of the question, and that they’re rumours.
Although the judge did not rule on the testimony, Werksman emphasized that the court admits too much evidence of unindicted “evil acts” by Weinstein. “Now we have five unindicted witnesses for five indicted victims,” he said. “That ratio is dangerously harmful. I don’t know how the jury will impartially assess his guilt.”
In addition to four women Weinstein is accused of assaulting, five women will testify about unfounded assaults. On October 14, Werksman warned that the court admits far too many witnesses.
“There is a real risk that Mr. Weinstein will be convicted on the basis of volume rather than on merit,” he said.
Weinstein appealed his New York conviction based on the release of previous testimony from three women about wrongdoing, but the appeals court in June ruled that the evidence of his alleged unindicted crimes was fair game to the arguments. of the defense that Weinstein believed his accusers agreed.
Thursday sat a jury of nine men and three women from a pool of 225 potential jurors. Eight alternates were also elected. The opening statements begin on Monday.
Weinstein is charged with 11 charges of sex crimes, including rape, in connection with the assault of five women from 2004 to 2013, carrying cumulative sentences of up to 140 years.