Harvey Weinstein doesn't think he can get a fair trial in Manhattan

A change of venue motion comes a little more than a month after Weinstein, 67, hired a new legal team.
Image: Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein and attorney Benjamin Brafman exit State Supreme Court, on June 5, 2018, in New York City.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Adam Reiss and Minyvonne Burke

Harvey Weinstein filed a motion for a new court venue because he does not believe he can get a fair trial in Manhattan, where he is accused of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2013.

Donna Rotunno, an attorney for the disgraced movie mogul, confirmed to NBC News that Weinstein filed the motion on Friday asking that the trial be moved to Albany County, Suffolk County or "another county outside of New York County."

The move comes a little more than a month after Weinstein, 67, hired a new legal team after lawyer Jose Baez withdrew from the case. In a letter to the court, Baez said that Weinstein "has engaged in behavior that makes representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively" and that he "has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements.”

New York state Supreme Court Justice James Burke approved Rotunno and another attorney, Damon Cheronis, to take over. It is the producer's third defense team.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Weinstein has been charged with raping an unidentified woman in 2013 inside a Manhattan hotel room and performing a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006. He is free on $1 million bail after pleading not guilty in July 2018 to charges of first-degree rape, third-degree rape, predatory sexual assault and criminal sexual act in the first degree.

Weinstein was a longtime Hollywood film producer until dozens of women came forward to accuse him of wrongdoing.

One of the first women to publicly speak out against Weinstein was actress Ashley Judd who told The New York Times in October 2017 that the producer tried to massage her and asked her to watch him take a shower in a hotel room in late 1996 or early 1997.

Judd said she refused and walked out. In April 2018, she filed a lawsuit claiming that Weinstein sabotaged her career after she rejected his sexual advances.

In January, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez threw out the sexual harassment part of Judd's suit, finding that the actress and Weinstein didn't have a specific kind of professional relationship that allowed such claims under California law. But the judge allowed Judd to pursue her defamation claim that Weinstein tried to ruin her career.

In May, Weinstein accusers tentatively agreed to a $44 million settlement to resolve more than a dozen civil lawsuits against him. Judd tweeted at the time that she was "not a party of any settlement" and intended to take Weinstein to trial.

The allegations against Weinstein and other powerful Hollywood men spawned the #MeToo movement in 2017.

Rotunno said at a news conference last month after taking over the case that Weinstein "has been railroaded" and she has proof the relationships were consensual.

His trial is currently slated to begin Sept. 9 and is expected to last about five weeks, according to Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, who will lead the prosecution.