21 Dec 2018

Harvey Weinstein loses bid to dismiss criminal case

7:51 am on 21 December 2018

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will face trial on charges that he sexually assaulted two women, a judge has ruled.

Harvey Weinstein leaves the hearing at New York Criminal Court 20 December, where a judge dismissed his bid to have two charges dropped.

Harvey Weinstein leaves the hearing where a judge dismissed his bid to have two charges dropped. Photo: AFP / Getty

Supreme Court Justice James Burke in Manhattan denied the movie producer's motion to dismiss criminal charges, rejecting his argument that the case was tainted by police and prosecutorial misconduct.

Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Mr Weinstein, told reporters outside the courthouse he was disappointed in the decision but was confident his client would prevail at trial.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 7 March.

Two months ago, Mr Weinstein won dismissal of a charge involving a third woman after prosecutors revealed that a New York City police detective had withheld information during the investigation, and said they could no longer pursue the charge.

In his motion to dismiss the remaining counts, Mr Weinstein said the detective's withholding of information compromised the integrity of the entire grand jury process that led to the indictment.

Justice Burke, however, wrote that a problem with one charge did not "infect the integrity" of the other charges, which concern different women.

Mr Weinstein has also argued that the indictment should be dismissed because the grand jury had not been shown communications that he said showed a long-term, consensual relationship between him and one of the women.

The judge said that while prosecutors must disclose evidence favorable to a defendant before trial, they do not have to show it to a grand jury.

In a written decision released after the hearing, the judge said there was "no basis for the defendant's claim of prosecutorial or law enforcement misconduct in the proceedings."

Mr Weinstein, who faces a up to life in prison if convicted of the five charges against him, has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone following accusations by more than 70 women, mostly young actresses and other women employed in the movie business, of sexual misconduct, including rape, going back decades.

The accusations led to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

As the accusations against Mr Weinstein mounted, his company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Through his company and another studio, Miramax, Weinstein won plaudits and awards for movies including Shakespeare in Love, Pulp Fiction and The King's Speech.

- Reuters