Harvey Weinstein sex-crime case: Both sides want to bar media, public from hearing
Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case rarely agree, but both are seeking to block the media and the public from his next hearing in New York. And for now, the judge in the case has agreed.
Both Weinstein's legal team and prosecutors in the office of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office have petitioned Judge James Burke to close an April 26 hearing at which Burke will decide whether to allow in testimony of alleged "prior bad acts and uncharged crimes" by Weinstein at his trial.
The fallen former movie mogul is scheduled to be tried on June 3 on five counts of sexual assault, including rape, involving two female accusers. Weinstein denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
"On application of both sides, the court has conditionally sealed the submissions of the defendant and the People," Burke ordered late Wednesday.
Since October 2017, Weinstein has been accused by nearly 90 women of sexual misconduct ranging from sexual harassment and groping to sexual intimidation and rape, in multiple jurisdictions and dating back decades. So far, he's been charged with a crime only in New York.
Prosecutors want to bring in other accusers of Weinstein to testify at his trial about how he allegedly committed similar crimes against them, even though he was never charged. Also, prosecutors seek to use this testimony to impeach Weinstein's credibility should he take the stand in his own defense.
Such testimony is referred to as Molineux/Sandoval evidence. It was most recently used against comedian Bill Cosby, who was convicted last year in Pennsylvania of three sex crimes at his second trial after five such women were allowed by the judge to testify.
Weinstein's lawyers want to keep any testimony about uncharged alleged crimes out of the trial. They say news coverage of the hearing discussing this matter could taint the jury pool.
Prosecutors say they want to protect Weinstein's right to a fair trial, and also the privacy of the accusers whose allegations against him aren't part of the underlying criminal case.
News organizations say they'll fight to keep the hearing open. Judge Burke said he will conduct another hearing on whether to close the April 26 hearing, at which time lawyers for the news media can present their arguments against closure.
"The press has been notified and is being given an opportunity to state their position in writing, and also whether the conditionally sealed motion papers and record should be unsealed," Burke wrote in his order.
Should any of the testimony in question be admitted at trial, it will be made public, his order added.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harvey Weinstein sex-crime case: Both sides want to bar media, public from hearing