Harvey Weinstein has been indicted in California on sexual assault charges, one of his lawyers says, as the former Hollywood movie producer appeared in a New York court proceeding over whether to extradite him.
The 69-year-old Weinstein wore a rust-coloured shirt as he appeared from the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo by video before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case.
Weinstein has been appealing his February 2020 conviction in Manhattan and 23-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
California’s criminal case against Weinstein covers alleged attacks on five women from 2004 to 2013 in the Los Angeles area.
It includes four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force.
Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.
Norman Effman, a public defender representing Weinstein, asked that his client be arraigned on the indictment virtually in New York rather than extradited so he could get necessary medical treatment, including scheduled eye and dental surgery.
Mr Effman said Weinstein, a diabetic, is “almost technically blind at this point” and also suffers from cardiac and back problems.
“We’re not trying to avoid what is going to happen in California,” Mr Effman said.
“We believe there is not only a defence to these charges but a very good defence to these charges,” which would result in an acquittal.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Another hearing is scheduled for April 30.
If convicted in California, Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison even if his New York conviction were overturned.
“These are stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement,” Weinstein’s criminal defence lawyer Mark Werksman said in a statement.
“We’re confident that Mr Weinstein will be acquitted because there’s no credible evidence against him. He’s innocent.”
Los Angeles’ district attorney first sought Weinstein’s extradition last July but it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.