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Judge Refuses to Dismiss Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Case

A sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein will proceed to trial after a New York judge denied a motion to dismiss the charges brought by the indie film mogul’s lawyers.

Justice James Burke found that prosecutors did not mislead the grand jury. Weinstein’s lead attorney, Ben Brafman, claimed that the D.A.’s office and the police withheld evidence showing that Weinstein and his accusers were engaged in consensual relationships. Burke rejected that argument.

“The Court finds that there is no basis for the defendant’s claim of prosecutorial or law enforcement misconduct in the proceedings, or pervasive falsity in and around the Grand Jury presentation,” Burke wrote. “The Court finds that the charges presented in the Grand Jury were supported by competent evidence and the proceedings were properly conducted. The motion to dismiss on these grounds is denied.”

In a statement, Brafman said he looked forward to defending the case at trial.

“We are obviously disappointed by the Court’s decision to deny our motion to dismiss the Indictment,” Brafman said. “Judge Burke has however, ruled and we must accept his ruling. Nothing in the Court’s ruling however, removes the flawed theory of this case that we intend to vigorously defend at trial, where we are confident that Mr Weinstein will be completely exonerated.”

Several prominent entertainment industry figures turned up at the hearing wearing #TimesUp t-shirts, which they were required to cover up in court. The celebrity-filled group included Marisa Tomei, Gloria Allred, Jennifer Esposito, Amber Tamblyn, Kathy Najimy, and Times Up’s newly minted president Lisa Borders. A slightly disheveled looking Weinstein entered the court limping. He was dressed in a grey suit and sported a navy blue tie and a five o’clock shadow.

Burke’s decision was announced after attorneys from both the defense and prosecution huddled at the bench for roughly 10 minutes. The judge set a pre-trial hearing for March 7.

Weinstein was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood for decades, backing classic films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “The King’s Speech,” and winning trunkloads of Oscars and acclaim in the process. His career is in tatters after dozens of women came forward in 2017 to accuse the former head of Miramax and the Weinstein Company of sexual assault and harassment. His accusers included celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman, and Ashley Judd and their decision to break their silence triggered an industry-wide reckoning. Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Matt Lauer, and Brett Ratner are just a few of the major media business figures who have been accused of sexual assault or harassment in the wake of Weinstein’s fall.

Although Weinstein has been accused of misconduct by dozens of women, the New York case hinges on the claims of two people. He is charged with raping one woman in 2013 and is also accused of forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006. Weinstein’s legal team maintains that any sexual contact between the producer and his accusers was consensual.

After the hearing, Allred praised Burke for allowing the case to move forward. “This indictment was not based upon the #MeToo movement,” said Allred. “It was based on evidence.”

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