NEW YORK: The sexual assault trial of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will take place on September 9, three months later than expected, a New York judge said Friday.
Weinstein – a catalyst for the #MeToo anti-harassment movement – has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women and faces life in prison if he is convicted at the trial, which could last for five weeks.
One of the 67-year-old’s lawyers, Jose Baez, welcomed the postponement, saying: “This is going to give us ample opportunity to dig into the case, talk to those people who are coming forward and telling us about other matters that are very helpful to Mr Weinstein’s case.”
The delay was announced after a four-hour closed-door hearing to decide whether women other than the two accusers could give evidence at the trial.
Judge James Burke suggested that his decision on this key point may not be made public until the start of the trial.
Since October 2017, Weinstein – one of the most powerful men in Hollywood before a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations precipitated his downfall – has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women, including prominent actresses such as Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.
Because the session was closed, it is unclear how many of those women – many of whose allegations are too old to be brought to trial – prosecutor Joan Orbon-Illuzzi would like to call on.
Their testimony could be key, as it was at the trial of former television star Bill Cosby, who was sentenced to at least three years in prison in the first courtroom victory of the #MeToo era.
But Baez said after the hearing that when prosecutors want testimony from women other than the alleged victims in the charges, it is generally “good for the defense.”
That is because it means the prosecution can’t prove their case based on the complainants’ testimony alone, he said.