Harvey Weinstein Trial Set to Begin

mihai-surdu-DeI2BMIMDFA-unsplash-copy-300x200The man whose conduct lit the fire that set off the #MeToo movement will stand trial in Manhattan facing five charges relating to sex crimes. Harvey Weinstein has been accused by over 80 women of sexual misconduct and the trial promises to be a historic indictment of Hollywood culture and even American culture. 

Weinstein will face a litany of witnesses who will testify before the court and recount sexual misconduct before a jury. Some of these women will be recounting experiences from uncharged sex crimes while others will act as witnesses for crimes that have been charged. In this respect, it is similar to the strategy used by prosecutors to convict Bill Cosby of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. 

Weinstein has maintained his innocence.

The Charges Against Harvey Weinstein

Two of the women who will testify against Weinstein make up the five charges he will face. The charges include rape and sexual assault. The two women are as of yet unidentified. New York prosecutors have added the label “predatory” to the Weinstein charges meaning that he could potentially face more time in prison. If convicted, Weinstein will face a life sentence, so this is an all-or-nothing play by prosecutors to nail Weinstein with the stiffest possible penalty.

The jury will hear evidence from the two women who form the basis of the allegations against Weinstein, and three “Molineux” witnesses who will testify concerning Weinstein’s prior bad acts. These are witnesses who will testify concerning crimes for which Weinstein has never been charged.

The term “Molineux witness” comes from an appeals court decision surrounding the admissibility of evidence for prior bad acts. New York courts are required to have a Molineux hearing. In a typical case, evidence of prior crimes, charged or uncharged, is not admissible due to its prejudicial effect on the jury. However, in certain cases New York permits witnesses to prior bad acts. The judge in the Weinstein case permitted the state three Molineux witness, one of whom will be notable Hollywood actress Annabella Sciorra. The identity of the other witnesses is being closely guarded.

How do You Defend Against Multiple Rape Accusations?

Situations like this generally do not end well for the defendant. If the prosecution had offered Weinstein lesser charges, he may have jumped at the opportunity. However, these prosecutors are not offering Weinstein a plea and for that reason, for strategic reasons, Weinstein must plead not guilty to the crimes. That does not mean that his defense will be adequate, however. Weinstein’s attorneys have the task of proving that there was some giant conspiracy in place to attack their client. They will say that his conduct was probably off-color and inappropriate, but it never rose to the standard of rape or sexual assault. In other words, they will say that something happened, but it is not as egregious as the prosecution is making it out to be. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with rape or sexual assault, you need an attorney who will defend you tooth and nail from the charges. David Freidberg has represented defendants charged with sex crimes. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin building your defense immediately.