Harvey Weinstein, who will face trial in January on several sex-crime charges, including rape, had his bail increased Wednesday to $5 million cash from $1 million due to dozens of alleged violations of his electronic monitoring agreement.
Pushing a walker into the New York courtroom due to a back injury, Weinstein told New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke, “This is a good thing for you” after the judge announced the new terms and made sure Weinstein understood the consequences. “This is the only time I’ve asked for it,” he said. “This ensures I am here January 6.” Burke then lightly admonished Weinstein to answer his questions only with a “yes” or a “no.”
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As an alternative to cash bail, Burke offered a $50 million security bond, partially secured at 10%, or a $2 million insurance company bond, and Weinstein opted for the latter.
Defense attorney Arthur Aidala told the court Weinstein will undergo back surgery on Thursday due to injuries related to an August car accident. In recent days, a swirl of press reports had cast doubt on the trial proceeding on schedule and prompted social-media speculation about the nature of Weinstein’s ailments, but all systems appear to be go after today’s hearing. Aidala said the defense team has “received assurances from several doctors that the [surgical] procedure will not impede Mr. Weinstein’s ability to participate in the trial.”
Burke said the revised bail setup provides the “least restrictive conditions that will reasonably assure the defendant’s return to court.”
Aidala began the 45-minute hearing by proclaiming that “no one in here wants January 6 to take place more” than Weinstein, who has been “100% compliant” with his bail conditions. Burke then sardonically raised his hand, indicating that he, like many, is itching for the trial to finally begin after more than a year of buildup.
Assistant Manhattan D.A. Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor in the case, said there had been 57 violations of Weinstein’s bail arrangement, mostly having to do with the electronic monitoring equipment. While the defense has portrayed them as malfunctions or failing batteries, with no violation occurring after October 7, Illuzzi-Orbon strongly differs with that assessment. “These are not technical glitches in any way, shape or form,” she said. “Mr. Weinstein did not want people to know where he was.”
Weinstein will continue to surrender his passport and remain in the U.S., and must notify the D.A.’s office anytime he wants to travel outside of New York or Connecticut.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges, maintaining the sexual encounters were consensual. The trial is certain to be an all-out media circus, given Weinstein’s status as the initial #MeToo figure, with the dozens of accusations against him in late 2017, including by notable actresses including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra, triggering a movement that continues to resonate. At a hearing last Friday, Burke rejected a request for a gag order by the D.A.’s office, which is concerned about the effect of the media coverage on the jury’s view of the case.
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