Weinstein rape trial deliberations resume after defense tries to oust juror

Entertainment

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The jury in former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial resumed deliberations on Wednesday, as his lawyers failed in their effort to get a juror removed for writing a review of a novel partly set in the #MeToo era during the trial.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives to New York Criminal Court for the second day of jury deliberations in his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Damon Cheronis, renewed a request he made Tuesday to boot a juror from the case because of her online review, posted during the trial, of Kate Elizabeth Russell’s debut novel “My Dark Vanessa.”

The novel is about a relationship between a 15-year-old female student and a 42-year-old male teacher in 2000. In 2017, the former student is encouraged to come forward and tell her story, amid the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, news media and politics of sexual misconduct.

The judge, James Burke, denied the request.

“My finding is just that she hasn’t done anything wrong,” he said.

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The same juror wrote a novel about young women and “predatory” older men. The defense had tried to exclude her from the jury before the trial began.

Soon after they resumed deliberations on Wednesday, the jurors asked to review parts of Haleyi’s testimony, as well as emails between her and Weinstein.

After beginning deliberations on Tuesday, the jurors requested other evidence related to Haleyi and to Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein entered her New York apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her.

The accusation is too old to be charged as a separate crime, but it could act as an aggravating factor to support a predatory sexual assault charge, which carries a potential life sentence.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein, whose films include “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis

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