Harvey Weinstein faces new charges, trial postponed

NEW YORK, USA — Fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two new charges of sexual predatory assault Monday, August 26, as a judge postponed his trial until next year.

Weinstein, already indicted over two sexual assault allegations, was slapped with the additional counts in a new indictment put before a court in New York.

Judge James Burke postponed the start of the trial from next month to January 6, 2020 to give Weinstein's defense time to prepare.

Weinstein, 67, laughed and said "not really" when he was asked by the judge whether he wanted to go to trial.

It was not immediately clear if the new indictment contained accusations by new women.

Once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Weinstein has been accused of harassment and assault by more than 80 women, including stars such as Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd.

But the Pulp Fiction producer has only faced charges involving two women — one who alleges he raped her in 2013, the other who claims he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

New York prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had filed a new indictment against the 67-year-old. The original accusations against him were a catalyst for America's #MeToo movement.

According to US media, the new indictment will include testimony from actress Annabella Sciorra, known for her appearances in the hit television series The Sopranos.

Sciorra helped trigger the #MeToo movement in October 2017 when she told The New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at her home in Manhattan in 1993.  

Weinstein has always insisted his sexual relationships were consensual and is again expected to enter a not guilty plea on Monday.

Sciorra reportedly approached prosecutors too late for her allegations to be included in the original indictment, The New York Times reported, citing a letter written by the prosecutor in charge of the case.

The judge denied a prosecution request that Sciorra be allowed to give evidence at Weinstein's trial because she had not testified before a grand jury as is procedure under US law. 

Prosecutors hope the new indictment will allow her to testify. The number of accusers appearing in court can influence the verdict, as seen in the 2018 conviction of Bill Cosby. 

Weinstein's lawyers have denounced the new indictment as a "desperate" last-minute move and are expected to ask for the indictment to be dismissed.

His attorneys have also asked for the trial to be moved, arguing that intense coverage in New York's tabloids has meant he won't get a fair trial.

A decision will also likely come Monday but the request is expected to be rejected. —Rappler.com