A New York judge has paved the way for Harvey Weinstein to be extradited from prison in New York to California to face further charges.
The former Hollywood movie producer and co-founder of the Miramax film studio, which prodiced blockbusters such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” is currently serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted last year of sexual assault and third-degree rape.
Additional sexual assault charges in Los Angeles
The day before the jury began deliberating in the New York trial, L.A. County District Attorney. Jackie Lacey filed multiple charges of sexual assault against Mr Weinstein, accusing him of assaulting three women in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013.
As a result, six further charges involving two additional alleged victims were filed last October.
Prosecutors began the process of applying to extradite Mr Weinstein several months ago, but there have been delays due to his appeal as well as Covid.
A New York judge has now rejected Mr Meinstein’s appeal, despite submissions the former mogul required critical medical care in New York. The appeal court heard that Mr Weinstein, a diabetic, has suffered from cardiac, dental and back problems and is “almost technically blind.”
The judge determined that Weinstein will be able to access adequate medical care in Los Angeles, should he need to do so.
Mr Weinstein’s lawyers have filed a writ of Habeas Corpus with the L.A. County Superior Court, requesting an order to suspend their client’s extradition until he receives the medical care he needs.
With the application pending, it is likely there will be a further delay in extradition.
Prosecutors are hopeful Mr Weinstein will be extradited in the coming months to face an 11-count indictment accusing him of attacking five women from 2004 to 2013.
Under the law, Weinstein is entitled to a trial within 120 days of his arrival in LA, but court processes are still being delayed due to Covid lockdowns.
It is understood Mr Weinstein will be held in a Los Angeles County hospital’s prison ward while he awaits trial.
In California, Weinstein faces charges including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint, and sexual penetration by use of force.
If found guilty, the sentence imposed in California would be served after completion of the New York prison term.
The Los Angeles charges are so serious he could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted, even if the New York conviction is overturned.
The crime of rape
Unlike in New South Wales where the offence of rape was abolished in 1981 pursuant to section 80AD of the Crimes Act 1900, and replaced with a number of sexual assault offences, California continues to have the offence.
The law in California defines rape as nonconsensual sexual intercourse which occurs:
1. By violence, duress, threats or fraud, or it was against the victim’s will.
In order to prove this, a prosecutor needs to prove the defendant engaged in violence, physical force, threats, coercion, fraud relating to the victim or invoked a fear in the victim of retaliation or physical harm against themselves or another person; or
2. Where the victim was unconscious or otherwise unable to consent.
To establish this, a prosecutor needs to prove that the victim was unable to give consent due to a mental or physical disorder or disability, too intoxicated to consent or not conscious enough to understand the nature of the act.
Under California’s Megan’s Law, a rape conviction can carry lifetime registration as a sex offender in addition to a lengthy prison sentence.
Mr Weinstein’s trial will be watched closely throughout the world, especially considering his original prosecution was considered a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement.
The former producer continues to deny all wrongdoing and is currently appealing his conviction and sentence in New York.
More than 90 women have accused him of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.