Harvey Weinstein faces accuser as judge orders retrial

Harvey Weinstein was visibly frail as he was wheeled into a Manhattan courtroom flanked by his lawyer (Steven Hirsch)
Harvey Weinstein was visibly frail as he was wheeled into a Manhattan courtroom flanked by his lawyer (Steven Hirsch)

Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein faced one of his accusers in New York court Wednesday as he was told he would be retried for rape and sexual assault convictions that were overturned in the state.

His 2020 conviction for raping ex-actress Jessica Mann, who was in the front row of the courtroom's public gallery and mere feet from Weinstein, was overturned by New York's highest court last week.

Weinstein was visibly frail as he was wheeled into the Manhattan courtroom flanked by his lawyers, smiling and waving at supporters as he was pushed in a wheelchair past the public gallery.

Weinstein, who has barely been pictured in public for years, was flanked by two armed court officers as he sat at the defendant's table wearing a dark suit, his hair thin.

"We believe in this case... to that end (accuser) Jessica Mann is in court today," said prosecutor Nicole Blumberg announcing that her office would seek a retrial. "She is committed to seeing justice served once again.

"We have every belief that the defendant will be convicted again at trial."

But Weinstein's lawyer Arthur Aidala insisted "he was acquitted of the most serious counts," accusing the prosecutor in the original New York trial of perjuring herself.

Weinstein's team had sought to have their client granted bail pending any retrial, but Judge Curtis Farber rejected that, remanding him pending a retrial which he set for after Labor Day on September 4.

"His life is on the line," Aidala said as he sought to have his client freed.

- #MeToo -

The next hearing in the case will be May 29 to handle discovery issues, Farber said, adding that "we anticipate a trial schedule some date after Labor Day."

"He will be remanded until trial."

Weinstein was convicted in New York in 2020 of the rape and sexual assault of ex-actress Mann in 2013, and of forcibly performing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006.

He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Last week New York's highest court ruled the trial judge erred in admitting the testimony of women who were allegedly abused by Weinstein but who were not named in the charges brought against him.

Weinstein would have likely remained in custody anyways because of a conviction for rape in California for which he received a sentence of 16 years.

The once-untouchable Hollywood heavyweight has suffered from a raft of health issues while in prison and has spent time in a secure hospital unit.

Bombshell allegations broke against the Oscar-winning producer in 2017, launching the #MeToo movement that saw more women fighting back against sexual violence and discrimination in the workplace.

The decision to quash the New York convictions rested on the fact the judge allowed prosecutors to rely on so-called "Molineux witnesses," who were allowed to testify despite not being part of the charges -- an exception to the normal rules surrounding evidence.

Lawyers said Weinstein's Los Angeles conviction was unlikely to be affected by the New York reversal.

Weinstein's legal team has indicated it now intends to appeal the California conviction.

Following his conviction in New York, a civil trial awarded $17 million to dozens of other women who had accused the former movie magnate of abuse.

Weinstein and his brother Bob co-founded Miramax Films, a distribution company named after their mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979. It was sold to Disney in 1993.

Their hits included 1998's "Shakespeare in Love," for which Weinstein shared a best picture Oscar. Over the years, Weinstein's films received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.