LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles prosecutors dropped their case Thursday in the trial of Harvey Weinstein, who they say raped two women and sexually assaulted two others.
The handover from Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson came after nearly four weeks of testimony from 44 witnesses.
Weinstein is accused of crimes against four of them: one model, another model and actor, a third masseur.
The fourth, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker who was an actress at the time of her alleged rape and is now married to California Governor Gavin Newsom, provided the most dramatic moments of the trial so far with her emotional testimony.
Four other women who are not involved in the allegations testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted them, as prosecutors tried to show he had a penchant for such acts.
Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench denied a motion by Weinstein’s attorneys to dismiss all counts against Weinstein, which prosecutors said they failed to prove.
“We’re nearing the end of this case if you haven’t already figured it out,” Lench told jurors, who will have the week off Thanksgiving and return for defense witness testimony on Nov. 28.
He warned them not to consume any media related to the trial by spotting “any movie trailers that might be related to this case or movies that might be related to this case – well, not related to this case, but related to this issue.”
Without saying the name of the film, he was clearly referring to Friday’s release of “She Said,” a film in The New York Times reporting the 2017 stories that put Weinstein at the center of the #MeToo movement.
Once the jury was excused, Weinstein’s attorney entered a new plea of not guilty for him to an amended indictment dropping four of the 11 previous counts against him. The move came about when prosecutors said earlier this week that the accuser known in court as Jane Doe No. They would not give a reason when asked.
Weinstein spokesperson Juda Engelmayer said in response to the dropped charges that “this witness might have felt uncomfortable being examined knowing the truth of the matter.”
Nor did prosecutors explain why Mel Gibson was missing. They never called the actor, director and one of the most anticipated witnesses of the trial to the witness stand. The judge ruled early in the trial that Gibson could testify about a conversation he had with Weinstein, a masseur accused of sexual assault.
In moving to have them fired, Weinstein’s attorney Alan Jackson reviewed the seven remaining counts against his client and provided a likely preview of the defense’s closing arguments.
Jackson said allegations that Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted an Italian model known at trial as Jane Doe 1 in 2013 were particularly unsubstantiated, arguing there is no compelling evidence that “the interlude happened at all.”
Jackson said there was no evidence that there were “any restrictions,” as required for one count of sexual assault, in the part of the case involving model Lauren Young.
Young, the only Weinstein accuser to testify at his trials in both New York and Los Angeles, said she was paralyzed with fear when Weinstein prevented her from leaving the bathroom, masturbated in front of her, and groped her breasts in a hotel in 2013.
Jackson said there was ample evidence, including emails the two exchanged over the next several years, that Siebel Newsom and Weinstein had a consensual sexual encounter that he later rephrased as rape.
“Defendant’s motion is denied,” Lench replied. “I think there is enough evidence to send all of these tallies to the jury, and I will.”
Weinstein is sentenced to two years to 23 years for his New York conviction, and was held in a Los Angeles prison throughout his trial.
The Associated Press typically does not publish the names of people alleging sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Young and Siebel Newsom have done through their attorneys.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
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