Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial set for May: US court

The Weinstein Company suffered a major blow after more than 70 women accused founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct including rape. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters New York, NY, USA Jan 09, 2019, 09.09 AM (IST)

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein will go on trial in Manhattan on May 6 on charges of sexually assaulting two women, his lawyer said in a court filing. Weinstein is accused of forcibly performing oral sex on a woman in July 2006 and raping another woman in March 2013. He faces five charges, including rape, and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

More than 70 women, mostly young actresses and others in the movie business, have accused Weinstein, 66, of sexual assaults dating back decades. The scandal helped launch the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in entertainment, politics and other fields, of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein, who pleaded not guilty after his arrest last May, has denied all the accusations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual. 

The New York prosecution, which was brought by the Manhattan district attorney`s office, is the only criminal case to emerge from those allegations to date.

Weinstein`s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, disclosed the trial date in a filing on Monday in a related federal civil case brought by an anonymous accuser. Brafman is seeking to have the case put on hold until the criminal case is resolved.

Brafman also said prosecutors will seek permission from the trial judge to call other accusers as witnesses, even though their allegations are not part of the criminal charges at hand.

While prosecutors are typically barred from calling "prior bad act" witnesses, judges will occasionally allow it for certain narrow purposes, such as demonstrating that a defendant had a particular method of committing his offenses.

The trial is expected to last six weeks, Brafman wrote.

Brafman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney`s office declined to comment.

Story highlights

Weinstein, who pleaded not guilty after his arrest last May, has denied all the accusations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.