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Culture

Weinstein Faces a 2nd Long Sentence in LA Rape Conviction

February 23, 2023

LOS ANGELES — Harvey Weinstein could see the long prison term he is already serving nearly doubled at his California sentencing, bringing the onetime movie magnate and lord of the Oscars to a new low after convictions for rape and sexual assault.

Unless she grants a defense motion for a new trial, Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench is scheduled to sentence the 70-year-old Weinstein in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday. She could give him up to 18 years in prison. He has more than 20 years left on his sentence in New York after a 2020 conviction there.

Jurors in December convicted Weinstein of one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault against an Italian model and actor during a 2013 film festival in the run-up to that year’s Academy Awards. The jury spared Weinstein an even longer sentence when they acquitted him of the sexual battery of a massage therapist and failed to reach verdicts on counts involving two other women.

The victim whose dramatic testimony led to the guilty counts may make a statement on the toll the attack has taken on her.

Last week, Lench rejected a request from Gloria Allred, an attorney for some of the women who testified at trial, to allow others to make similar statements in court about the man who has for five years been a magnet for the #MeToo movement.

“I’m not going to make this an open forum on Mr. Weinstein’s conduct,” Lench said.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually assaulted.

The judge will first hear arguments over a defense motion that Weinstein should be given a new trial or have his verdict reduced. Weinstein’s lawyers say Lench’s rejection of evidence they wanted to use at trial proved prejudicial to him.

The defense attorneys argue that they ought to have been allowed to introduce private Facebook messages that showed there was a sexual relationship between the Italian woman and Pascal Vicedomini, director of the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival, which she was attending when she said the attack occurred.

The motion says the messages would have shown that both were lying under oath when they testified that they were merely friends and colleagues. The court filing also says that such a relationship would have made it unlikely that Vicedomini would give Weinstein the number of her hotel room, where according to her testimony Weinstein appeared uninvited. And it says the messages would have bolstered the lawyers’ contention the woman was spending the night with Vicedomini at another hotel on that night.

The defense argued in their closing that the two had a sexual relationship, but Lench allowed jurors to see only the messages between them that established her timing and location.

The law gives Lench “the singular responsibility of setting right those prejudicial errors which often become apparent only with the benefit of hindsight,” the lawyers wrote in the motion.

Lench has said she will move forward with the sentencing immediately if she rejects the defense motion.

But legal uncertainties will remain on both coasts for Weinstein.

New York’s highest court has agreed to hear his appeal in his rape and sexual assault convictions there. And prosecutors in Los Angeles have yet to say whether they will retry Weinstein on counts they were unable to reach a verdict on.

It is not yet clear where he will serve his time while these issues are decided.

His New York sentence would be served before a California prison term, though a retrial or other issues could keep him from being sent back there soon.

Weinstein is eligible for parole in New York in 2039.

 

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