Media Organizations Seek Access to Key Harvey Weinstein Hearing

A group of media organizations asked a New York judge on Monday to allow public access to a critical hearing in the Harvey Weinstein criminal case.

The disgraced producer is scheduled to go on trial on June 3 on five charges of rape and sexual assault involving two alleged victims. Prosecutors have filed a motion seeking to allow other women to testify about their own experiences with Weinstein, in order to buttress the two women’s claims. The defense has objected, and a hearing on the issue is set for Friday.

Justice James M. Burke has sealed the motions, and both the prosecution and the defense have requested that the hearing be closed to the public. Both sides argue that discussing the potential testimony in public, before the trial, would taint the jury pool.

In a letter to the court, Weinstein attorney Ronald Sullivan argued that if the hearing were open, “prospective jurors will be exposed to potentially irrelevant and unquestionably prejudicial information that will impede Mr. Weinstein’s ability to receive a fair trial, particularly in the sensationalized media environment surrounding these proceedings.”

Attorney Robert Balin filed a motion Monday on behalf of 14 news organizations, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Associated Press, and CNN. The motion seeks to unseal the filings and open Friday’s hearing to the public. Balin argues that Weinstein has already been publicly accused by more than 80 women, and that additional coverage of such allegations will have little effect.

“Simply put, Weinstein is the focal point of the #MeToo movement and the alleged ‘bad acts and uncharged crimes’ at issue here have been indelibly burned into the public consciousness already,” Balin wrote. “As such, the Parties are unable to demonstrate (as they must) that there is a substantial probability that the repetition of this widely known information in open court will have a meaningful effect on the opinions of potential jurors or otherwise prejudice Weinstein’s right to a fair trial.”

At Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania in 2018, five women were allowed to testify to the comedian’s “prior bad acts.” The pre-trial motions on the issue were not sealed, nor was the hearing on the issue closed to the public. The prosecution’s motion to allow the testimony laid out the allegations in some detail, but did not identify the women by name.

The testimony arguably tipped the balance in favor of Cosby’s conviction. At his first trial in 2017, which ended in a hung jury, only one such witness was allowed to testify.

In the Weinstein case, the prosecution has filed sealed motions to allow testimony from “Sandoval” and “Molyneux” witnesses. In New York, the “Molyneux rule” allows prosecutors to introduce evidence of uncharged conduct if it helps establish a pattern of behavior. Under People v. Sandoval, the prosecution may introduce such testimony to undermine a defendant’s credibility, should the defendant choose to testify.

The prosecution has joined with the defense in asking that the hearing on the issue be sealed. In addition to expressing concern about the impact on the jury pool, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon argued that if the potential witnesses are not allowed to testify, their identities should remain secret.

“Moreover, in this case, another pertinent consideration is the privacy of those potential witnesses who have been victims of sexual assault and whose identity is protected by law,” she wrote.

If the women are allowed to testify, their identities would become public at trial.

In addition to the criminal case, Weinstein faces 17 civil actions and demands for sexual misconduct in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Warner Records Names Claudia Butzky Senior

    Warner Records Names Claudia Butzky Senior VP of Brand Partnerships

    Warner Records has named Claudia Butzky senior vice president of brand partnerships, strategic marketing & commercial sync licensing, the company announced today. Based in Los Angeles, Butzky will report to Tom Corson, Co-Chairman & COO, Warner Records, and essentially will fill the role vacated by former EVP Lori Feldman, who left the company earlier this [...]

  • Kathleen FinchDiscovery Executive Session panel, TV

    Listen: Discovery's Kathleen Finch on How to Nurture Lifestyle Brands

    Kathleen Finch is a big believer in staying in your lane. Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer juggles a portfolio of 11 linear cable channels and their digital offshoots, from Food Network and HGTV to TLC and crime-centric Investigation Discovery. Many of Finch’s channels are defying the gravity of the moment in generating extremely high levels [...]

  • Big Hit Entertainment, Home to BTS,

    Big Hit Entertainment, Home to BTS, Posts Blockbuster Results for First Half of 2019

    South Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment, home to BTS, revealed its revenues for the first half of 2019 at an event called “Big Hit Corporate Briefing With the Community” held in Seoul today. The company posted record revenues of $166.3 million — just $12 million short of its revenues for all of 2018, according to analysis [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean Regulators Approve Four-Way Streaming Merger

    South Korean regulators have approved the merger of the video services of three local broadcasters and SK Telecom’s streaming app Oksusu. The new service, operating under the name Wavve will launch in September and be Korea’s largest. Proposed in January as a measure to combat the incursion of international video players, the deal was given [...]

  • Two bull statues are displayed outside

    Alibaba Delays Hong Kong Share Listing (Report)

    Against a background of political tension in Hong Kong, Chinese tech and entertainment giant Alibaba is reported to have delayed its planned share listing in the Asian financial capital. Reuters cited two unnamed sources in a report Wednesday on the decision to postpone. One said that the delay was approved at a board meeting the [...]

  • Mass Appeal and Universal Launch Hip-Hop

    Nas, Mass Appeal and Universal Music Launch Hip-Hop Label in India, Sign Divine

    Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale. The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, center, arrives to court

    Weinstein's Attorneys Seek to Move Trial to Long Island or Albany

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys want his rape trial moved to Long Island or Albany, citing the “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding the courthouse in Manhattan. Weinstein is set to go on trial on Sept. 9 on five charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced producer faces a potential life term if convicted. In a motion to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content