Convicted sex offender and former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein contemplated a mixed bag of legal developments Tuesday after a Los Angeles judge refused to dismiss the sex-crime case against him, setting the stage for a trial later next year on multiple charges of rape and sexual assault.
“We’re disappointed,” said Mark Werksman, Weinstein’s criminal lawyer in Los Angeles, following a two-hour hearing before Judge Lisa Lench. After some additions and subtractions, Weinstein is facing nearly a dozen charges, including four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts.
Meanwhile, Rose McGowan‘s civil suit – one of dozens of civil suits filed against Weinstein by his many accusers – was thrown out by a federal judge in Los Angeles after the actress and activist fired her attorneys and failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to file documents. McGowan was one of Weinstein’s first and most vocal accusers, helping ignite the #MeToo movement.
Although Tuesday’s hearing regarding Weinstein’s California charges was public, much of the case remains under seal. According to Variety and Rolling Stone, topics that came up at the hearing included references to Weinstein’s medical records and whether the grand jury indictment was improperly influenced by the prosecution’s reliance on an expert on “rape trauma syndrome.”
Weinstein, who was extradited from a New York state prison in July, is in a Los Angeles county jail awaiting trial, which may not be held until after next summer. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which involve five accusers and date between 2004 and 2013.
The judge set two future hearings in the case, including one on May 4 to discuss potential testimony by witnesses whose allegations of uncharged crimes by the fallen movie producer are intended by prosecutors to show evidence of an alleged pattern of “prior bad acts.”
This type of witness testimony was used successfully by prosecutors in New York to convict Weinstein of two sex crimes at a trial in Manhattan in February 2020. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison and began serving his sentence at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo in March 2020.
Rose McGowan’s civil suit thrown out
Aside from the criminal case, Weinstein also faces multiple civil suits filed by various accusers in various courts.
Soon after media exposes first detailed the Weinstein allegations in October 2019, McGowan filed a lawsuit in federal court in California against Weinstein, two of his high-profile former lawyers, David Boies and Lisa Bloom and their firms, and Black Cube, the London-based private intelligence firm staffed by ex-Israeli Mossad agents.
The lawsuit alleged 11 complaints, including civil racketeering, wiretapping, fraud, invasion of privacy, computer crimes, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring.
“This case is about a diabolical and illegal effort by one of America’s most powerful men and his representatives to silence sexual-assault victims,” declared the opening lines of McGowan’s complaint. “And it is about the courageous women and journalists who persisted to reveal the truth.”
Julie Porter, one of McGowan’s lawyers, said in a press statement at the time that the suit detailed a “conspiracy” led by Weinstein and enabled by the other defendants to “intimidate and silence” McGowan and others.
But now the federal lawsuit is over, although McGowan has the option to re-file some claims in state court. According to documents in the case file, McGowan dismissed Porter and the rest of her legal team at the end of November. Now without a lawyer, McGowan missed a court-ordered deadline last week to file a brief on how she intended to amend her lawsuit on the racketeering claims.
The lawsuit had a bumpy road from the start. U.S. District Judge Otis Wright had dismissed most of McGowan’s claims in December 2020, but allowed her to proceed with two fraud claims and gave her a chance to amend the racketeering allegations. But last month he dismissed the racketeering counts, ruling her allegations did not rise to the level of racketeering activity as defined by federal law.
McGowan could not be reached for comment. It is not clear whether she’s hired a new lawyer.
McGowan was last in headlines in September when she appeared at a press conference in Los Angeles to support Larry Elder, the Republican then challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall campaign. She and Elder accused Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, of attempting to bribe her in 2017 to “suppress” her allegations against Weinstein.
The Newsoms’ team called McGowan’s allegations “a complete fabrication.”
Elder subsequently lost and Newsom survived the recall effort.