LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles prosecutors dropped their case Thursday in the trial of Harvey Weinstein, who they allege raped two women and sexually assaulted two others.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Thompson’s move came after nearly four weeks of testimony from 44 witnesses.
Weinstein is charged with crimes against four of them: one a model, another a model and actor, and a third a massage therapist.
The fourth, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker who was an actress at the time of her alleged rape and is now married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, provided the most dramatic moments of the trial to date with her emotional testimony.
Four other women, unrelated to the charges, testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted them as prosecutors sought to show he had a propensity for such acts.
Supreme Court Justice Lisa Lench denied a motion by Weinstein’s attorneys to dismiss all charges against Weinstein, which she said prosecutors could not prove.
“We’re nearing the end of this case, if you haven’t already realized that fact,” Lench told the jury, who are getting Thanksgiving week off and will return for testimony on November 28.
She warned them against consuming process-related media that highlighted “movie trailers that may relate to this case, or films that may relate to this case — well, not related to this case, but related to this issue.” .
Without naming the film, she was clearly referring to Friday’s release of “She Said,” a film based on The New York Times’ 2017 coverage of the stories that placed Weinstein at the center of the #MeToo movement.
After the jury pardoned, Weinstein’s attorney returned a new plea of not guilty on his behalf in an amended indictment that drops four of the 11 previous charges against him. The move became necessary when prosecutors said earlier this week that the accuser, known in court as Jane Doe #5, would not appear to testify and that the charges would not be pursued further. When asked, they refused to give a reason.
Weinstein spokesman Juda Engelmayer said in response to the dropped charges that “this witness may have felt uncomfortable knowing the truth of the matter.”
Prosecutors also didn’t explain why Mel Gibson was missing. They never called the actor, director, and one of the most anticipated witnesses at the trial to the stand. The judge ruled earlier in the trial that Gibson could testify about a conversation he had with masseur Weinstein, who is accused of sexual assault.
In seeking her release, Weinstein’s attorney Alan Jackson went through the seven remaining charges against his client and provided a likely preview of the defense’s closing arguments.
Jackson said claims that Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted an Italian model, known at trial as Jane Doe 1, in 2013 were particularly unfounded, arguing that there was no compelling evidence that “the interlude even happened.” .
Jackson said there was no evidence that there was “any restraint” required for a sexual violence count in the part of the case involving model Lauren Young.
Young, the sole Weinstein accuser who testified at his trials in New York and Los Angeles, said she was paralyzed with fear when Weinstein prevented her from leaving the bathroom, masturbated in front of her and her breasts in one in 2013 hotel.
Jackson said there was ample evidence, including emails the two exchanged over the years that followed, that Siebel Newsom and Weinstein had a consensual sexual encounter, which she later reworded as a rape.
“The defendant’s motion is denied,” Lench replied. “I think there is enough evidence to submit all of these charges to the jury and I will do so.”
Weinstein has been sentenced to two years to 23 years in New York for his conviction and was held in a Los Angeles jail throughout the trial.
The Associated Press does not typically publish the names of people making allegations of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Young and Siebel Newsom did through their attorneys.
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