Harvey Weinstein’s accusers will face him on the stand — just like Cosby By Larry Celona, Laura Italiano and Kate Sheehy
Harvey Weinstein’s accusers will face him on the stand — just like Cosby
By Larry Celona, Laura Italiano and Kate Sheehy
Manhattan prosecutors are ripping a page out of the Bill Cosby trial playbook in their case against Harvey Weinstein — by attempting to call as many of his accusers as possible to the stand, law enforcement sources told The Post.
“They want to do it like Cosby, have as many people testify just to paint the picture,” a source said.
Cosby, who was found guilty of sexual assault in April, initially was spared conviction by a hung jury at his first trial, where only one accuser, the woman pressing charges, was allowed to testify. But a judge changed the rules at the retrial, and five more women testified against the 80-year-old comedian, helping seal his conviction.
Although Weinstein has been charged with sexually assaulting two women, Manhattan prosecutors are casting their net far and wide — from California to Canada to Europe — to talk to all of the 80-plus women who have accused the 66-year-old film mogul of sexual misconduct, sources said.
They want some of the women’s testimony first for the grand jury proceeding and then for trial, the sources said.
“They’d like all these people to be allowed to testify like Cosby, although, ultimately, that would be up to a judge,” said one.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, scoffed at the strategy, saying prosecutors were just desperately trying to bolster a losing case.
He also told The Post on Sunday that the charges against Weinstein involve one unidentified woman who had a decade-long affair with the producer.
Brafman called her claim “a truly crazy allegation of forcible rape, made by a woman who we have identified, with whom Mr. Weinstein enjoyed a 10-year ‘consensual’ sexual relationship that continued for years, both before and even ‘after’ the date of the alleged forcible encounter.”
But law enforcement sources said the list of charges against Weinstein could only grow as more accusers tell their stories.
The grand jury has been meeting for at least the past few weeks, sources said.
“The first step is the grand jury. Right now, they’re going one step at a time,” a source said.
Asked how long the jury might be impaneled, the source said, “It’s open. [Prosecutors] are prepared to go as long as they have to. It’s all part of the big picture.
“[Prosecutors] are being very methodical, very slow,’’ the source added.
The source noted that DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office is being careful to avoid a repeat of its failure to prosecute former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the alleged rape of a Midtown hotel maid in 2011.
Joan Illuzzi — the prosecutor who dropped the charges against Strauss-Kahn, citing the accuser’s credibility issues — is now heading the Weinstein case. Brafman represented Strauss-Kahn at the time.
“The whole DSK thing — they don’t want this to blow up. Vance’s reputation has a lot riding on this,’’ the source said.
Vance also took heat for failing to prosecute Weinstein three years ago, when Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez said the producer had assaulted her.
Critics have said he cowed to pressure from Weinstein cronies, a charge the DA has denied.
Former actress Lucia Evans, one of the two women behind the rape and criminal-sex-act charges against Weinstein, is set to testify, sources said. The second woman, who has not been identified, also is expected to be called.
Evans says Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in his Tribeca office in 2004. The second woman says he raped her twice in a night at the DoubleTree hotel in Midtown in 2013.
Others who have accused the producer of sexual misconduct include actresses Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, Paz de la Huerta, Asia Argento and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Weinstein has said he is innocent of any crime.
Brafman dismissed the charges involving Evans and the unidentified woman as “totally absurd.”
“It does not surprise me at all that the district attorney is now desperately trying to shore up the patently flawed case they just filed,” he said.
He called Evans’ claim “a 14-year-old allegation . . . that will be quickly discredited.”
“Both of the filed charges are not only deeply flawed, but under the true facts, totally absurd,’’ he said.
Weinstein, who turned himself in to police Friday, faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted. He is now out on $1 million bail.
A DA’s office spokesman declined to comment on its strategy.
While prosecutors are talking about the Cosby case, there was another recent sex assault trial in which scores of additional accusers were allowed to make victim impact statements.
At his sentencing for child molestation, Larry Nassar, the former US gymnastics team doctor, had to face more than 150 of his victims, with some weeping as they recounted his abuse. He received 40 to 175 years in prison.
In addition to the current charges against Weinstein, prosecutors are trying to mount a financial fraud case against him, zeroing in
opriate money to pay these people off?” a source said. “They’re definitely looking at that. That’s still part of grand jury investigation.”