Harvey Weinstein to be extradited to California for sexual assault charges
Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein will be extradited to California after a New York judge’s approval, where he faces additional sexual assault charges.
The extradition order ends a legal fight, prolonged by the pandemic, the defense’s concerns about Weinstein’s failing health, and a squabble over paperwork.
Judge Kenneth Case said there was no reason to delay Weinstein’s transfer any longer, and denied his lawyer’s request to keep him at a state prison near Buffalo, New York, until the start of jury selection at his forthcoming trial in Los Angeles. Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for two rape convictions last year after a trial in New York.
Weinstein, appearing via video from the Wende prison on Tuesday, placed his hands on his mask-covered face after Case announced his decision. Earlier in the hearing, Weinstein had the mask drooping from his right ear as he sat in what appeared to be a prison meeting room.
Weinstein is appealing the guilty verdict, which found he raped an aspiring actress in 2013 in a Manhattan hotel room, and forcibly performed oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment.
In addition, Weinstein’s former production company recently agreed to pay $17m in bankruptcy court to women who alleged they were sexually abused by Weinstein. More than 50 women accused Weinstein of sexual abuse during the #MeToo movement.
Los Angeles prosecutors first charged Weinstein in January 2020, just as jury selection was getting under way in the New York City case that ended in his conviction and imprisonment.
Weinstein faces 11 sexual assault counts in California involving five women, stemming from alleged assaults in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013. The charges include rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force.
Los Angeles authorities plan to collect Weinstein, 69, from the Wende correctional facility in Alden, New York by early July, prosecutors said, giving Weinstein’s attorney Norman Effman time to appeal the extradition.
In Effman’s attempt to block extradition, he argued Weinstein should remain in Wende’s hospital-like maximum-security setting while receiving treatment for ailments such as eyesight loss. His suggestion that Weinstein be arraigned by video was also rejected.
“What we were trying to do is not avoid the trial, but avoid an unnecessary stay in a jail rather than a prison,” Effman said, claiming pre-trial detention in California would rob Weinstein of needed medical care.
Erie county assistant district attorney Colleen Curtin Gable, who argued in favor of Weinstein’s extradition, retorted: “It’s Los Angeles. It’s not some remote outpost that doesn’t have any sort of medical care.”
In addition to concerns about Weinstein’s health, Effman questioned the legitimacy of extradition paperwork filed by Los Angeles authorities, which he said was defective because it listed only some of the charges.
“We are challenging the paperwork because it’s not right. It’s wrong … They just copied the form and changed the date,“ Effman told Case.
Gable said the paperwork “absolutely met the requirements” of the extradition agreement.
Gable also challenged Effman’s claims about Weinstein’s health, telling the judge Weinstein last week rejected a prescribed treatment for his eye condition because he said he “wasn’t psychologically ready for it” and that prison officials cycled through ophthalmologists trying to find one “acceptable to the defendant”.
Weinstein has myriad health problems and his condition has worsened since he’s been in prison, according to his lawyers, including a bout with Covid-19 two weeks after his sentencing in March 2020.
Weinstein has diabetes, extensive coronary artery disease, anemia, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic lower back pain, sciatica , chronic leg pain and arthritis that severe limits his ability to walk, and eye ailments that have severely degraded his vision, his lawyers said.
“Every inmate has an absolute right to appropriate treatment when he or she is in custody,” Gable said. “But they don’t have a say in when and where they get their treatment, and there’s absolutely nothing in either doctor’s report that says this treatment can’t be done in Los Angeles.”