A New York judge rejected Harvey Weinstein’s bid to throw out the most serious charges in his sexual assault case, charges that could clear the way for prosecutors to seek a life sentence for the disgraced movie mogul.
The ruling dealt a huge blow to Weinstein as he sought to limit the scope of his looming trial and any potential punishment.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors plan to bolster their case with testimony from actress Anabella Sciorra who said Weinstein raped her in 1993 or 1994. It also leaves open the possibility of a life sentence if he is convicted at his trial, which is set to begin January 6.
After multiple indictments, changes in the charges, and the number of complaining witnesses, the case against Weinstein now stands at five counts, including rape and predatory sexual assault, involving two accusers and dating to 2013 and 2006.
In addition, a third woman’s accusation – that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993-94 – is part of the case because her allegation is being offered by the prosecution to back up the predator charge against Weinstein, as required under New York law.
The defense also sought to limit the testimony of an expert on sexual assault as a prosecution witness, and to have the court’s unseal the identity of two of the complaining witnesses, but Judge James Burke denied those motions. The judge is, however, going to allow the defense to call on two witnesses to discuss research about the cognitive factors pertaining to a person’s memory.
Nearly 90 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades. He has denied all non-consensual sex and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. So far, they are the only charges brought against him.