Manhattan prosecutors announce retrial for film producer Harvey Weinstein

The announcement follows a decision last week to toss Weinstein’s New York conviction on charges of rape and sexual assault.

Harvey Weinstein in court
Harvey Weinstein attends a preliminary court hearing in New York City on May 1, as prosecutors seek a retrial [Steven Hirsch/Pool via AP Photo]

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has revealed plans to retry United States film producer Harvey Weinstein on charges related to sexual assault, less than a week after a New York court overturned his conviction for rape.

Prosecutors made the announcement at a court hearing on Wednesday. Weinstein, in a wheelchair, was in attendance, as was one of his accusers, actor Jessica Mann.

Weinstein’s case had been a pivotal part of the #MeToo movement, a public awareness campaign designed to expose and stamp out sexual assault and harassment.

More than 80 women stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of crimes and misconduct ranging from rape to groping. The allegations reached a fever pitch around 2017, when the #MeToo movement was at its height.

In 2020, Weinstein was convicted in New York on charges that he raped Mann in a local hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performed oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006. Both women have spoken publicly about their experiences in the press.

Weinstein was serving a 23-year sentence when the New York Court of Appeals overturned his sentence on April 25. The four-to-three decision cited the fact that witnesses in the case testified to sexual assaults that had never been proven in court.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Manhattan prosecutors sought to underscore the severity of the crimes Weinstein is accused of.

“There was nothing consensual about this conduct,” said prosecutor Nicole Blumberg. “We believe in this case and will be retrying this case.”

Arthur Aidala speaks to reporters behind a metal barricade outside in New York.
Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, addresses reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court on May 1 [Mary Altaffer/AP Photo]

Weinstein’s defence team said it welcomed the chance to clear his name. “It’s a new trial. It’s a new day,” said lawyer Arthur Aidala.

He added, “We’re very confident that if he goes to trial, the only words we’ll hear at the end of trial are ‘not guilty’.”

The 72-year-old film producer has maintained his innocence, alleging the sexual encounters were consensual.

Judge Curtis Farber told the court he anticipated scheduling the trial around the US Labour Day holiday, on September 2. But he did not specify an exact date.

Prosecutors had suggested Labour Day as a time when Mann would be available to testify again.

Haley, however, has not yet indicated whether she will participate in the retrial, according to her lawyer Gloria Allred, who added that the public scrutiny in the case was traumatising.

Aidala said Weinstein would return to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after the hearing, where he had been sent after his release from New York’s prison system on Friday.

Still, Weinstein is not a free man: He was convicted of a different rape in Los Angeles in 2022 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in California.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies