Weinstein’s trial on five felony charges was scheduled to begin in two weeks, stemming from allegations of sexual assault in 2006 and the rape of another woman in 2013. He was arrested last year and released on $1 million bail. He has denied all accusations.
The new indictment was intended to enable testimony from actress Annabella Sciorra, prosecutors said Monday.
“The Sopranos” star accused Weinstein of raping her at her Gramercy Park apartment during the 1993-1994 winter; New York’s statute of limitations barred the district attorney from charging Weinstein over Sciorra’s allegations, but prosecutors argued that her testimony could help demonstrate a pattern of behavior by Weinstein — which is a necessary element for prosecutors to prove the predatory sexual assault charge.
Earlier this year, attorneys for Weinstein asked Judge James Burke to preclude Sciorra’s testimony at trial because it was not presented for a grand jury to consider. To find Weinstein guilty of predatory sexual assault, a felony that carries a maximum of life in prison, prosecutors must prove that he committed serious sexual assaults against at least two people. Since the criminal case’s inception, the charges have involved only two women, neither of whom was Sciorra. Permitting a jury to hear from her would effectively charge Weinstein with a crime for which he had not been indicted, the defense team said.
On Aug. 8, Burke sided with Weinstein. And so the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented the case to a newly convened grand jury, and Weinstein was indicted Aug. 21 for a third time.
“We appreciate the court’s decision to give us the appropriate amount of time to vigorously litigate this new indictment, which we are confident will be ruled improper and be dismissed,” Arthur Aidala, a member of Weinstein’s legal team, told The Washington Post on Monday.
Burke will also permit trial testimony from three witnesses alleging uncharged crimes, according to documents released Monday by prosecutors. Under a New York evidentiary rule called Molineux, evidence of similar past behavior by Weinstein can be introduced to establish a criminal pattern, notwithstanding a bad act’s omission from the indictment.
In addition to a defense motion to dismiss the new indictment, the court is expected to rule on the defense’s request to move the trial out of New York City. The district attorney’s office has also filed a motion asking the court to consolidate the two indictments in a single trial.
Monday’s arraignment arrived nearly two years after the New Yorker and the New York Times published the first accounts alleging sexual harassment and abuse by Weinstein, igniting a worldwide movement across industries aimed at holding men accountable for abuses of power.
Several men in the entertainment and media industries have since been publicly accused of a range of sexual misconduct and have retreated from the public eye. Few have faced criminal prosecution.