Harvey Weinstein’s LA trial loses a witness

Harvey Weinstein will face one fewer witness at his Los Angeles trial in October, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Prosecutors had previously been granted the right to subpoena five witnesses of “past bad deeds” to testify against the disgraced producer in support of five other women whose allegations form the basis of the charges in the case.

But one of those witnesses — known in court as just “Miss I.” – has since decided that she does not want to testify. On Wednesday, prosecutors asked the court for permission to replace her with another witness. But Judge Lisa Lench denied that request, saying the woman’s testimony was too similar to the accounts of the other witnesses.

Weinstein, 70, faces 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving the five alleged victims. He is already serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual assault in New York in February 2020.

One of the four supporting witnesses is Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the Italian model and actress who first reported Weinstein to the New York City Police Department in 2015. She claimed Weinstein groped her and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

The Manhattan Attorney’s Office chose not to prosecute Weinstein for this incident, leading to widespread criticism after the Weinstein scandal finally broke two years later. The Los Angeles trial will be her first opportunity to testify about the incident.

Prosecutors had also hoped to call “Lauren S.” — a reference to Lauren Sivan — who has claimed Weinstein masturbated in front of her at a New York restaurant. But Lench ruled on Wednesday that her testimony closely matches allegations made by three other accusers and is therefore redundant.

The judge denied a request by Weinstein’s attorneys to hold a pretrial evidentiary hearing with testimonies from each of the witnesses to “past wrongdoing” — none of whom testified before the grand jury. The judge also denied a defense request for communications between the witnesses and law enforcement, saying prosecutors have no legal obligation to release this material.

Weinstein is scheduled to appear back in court on August 29. The trial is scheduled to begin on October 10.

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/harvey-weinstein-loses-one-witness-1235338289/ Harvey Weinstein’s LA trial loses a witness

Charles Jones

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