Remember this asshole? Harvey Weinstein’s trial for sexual assault is moving forward, but according to Page Six, we’re not going to be privy to an upcoming pre-trial hearing which “focuses on whether evidence of Weinstein’s bad behavior for which he is not charged will be admitted at trial”. During a preliminary hearing today, a judge decided to keep that hearing sealed and the courtroom under wraps, which is what attorneys for the prosecution and the defense wanted, but for different reasons.
You know you’re a festering, cankerous boil on humanity’s taint when you’ve allegedly raped so many women that we have to ask “now, which rapes is he on trail for this time?”. The current indictment “concerns only two victims: a woman who says she was raped at a Manhattan hotel in 2013 and another woman who says Mr. Weinstein forced her to let him perform oral sex on her at his townhouse in 2006” (via New York Times). In legal terms, Harvey faces “one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape”, according to Deadline, for which he could be sentenced to life in prison.
As to the closed hearing, the judge’s decision today means that we won’t find out the identity of any potential witnesses who might testify against Harvey and whose testimony might be used to establish a pattern of abuse. At least not until the actual trial, which is currently scheduled to begin on June 3rd. The New York Times reports:
Prosecutors have said they intend to call an unknown number of women to testify about other accusations of sexual harassment or assault that are too old to prosecute under the state’s statute of limitation, what is known to lawyers as “prior bad acts.” Those witnesses would be called to establish Mr. Weinstein’s pattern of behavior.
That’s the tactic that sunk Bill Cosby. The judge ruled today that publicizing the proceedings would impede Harvey’s ability to receive a fair trial, and that excluding the press is “the only means available to avoid tainting the jury pool”. And the NYT states “prosecutors want the hearing and the documents closed as an insurance against a possible future appeal by Weinstein that his “right to a fair trial by an impartial jury” was prejudiced”. Either way you slice it, the stakes for Harvey’s rape trial make old Bill’s trial look like a particularly trashy episode of Judge Joe Mathis. According to Deadline:
Weinstein is also facing allegations from more than 60 other women that he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. In that vein, Weinstein is under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as probes by the Manhattan D.A.’s office and the NYPD.
There are also several cases in the works against Harvey at the Los Angeles D.A. as well as an ongoing investigation in the UK. And Ashley Judd‘s defamation case hasn’t been entirely dismissed yet either. So yeah, I can see why it might be difficult to find an impartial jury for Harvey. Hopefully there are still at least 12 people in New York who don’t have internet, TV, a telephone, a fax machine, carrier pigeons, or an open window, who haven’t heard about Harvey’s alleged crimes.