Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Rape, Criminal Sex Act; Due Back in Court Sept. 20

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James Cohen was quoted in a WBTV article about the Harvey Weinstein investigation.

The top charges carry a penalty of five to 25 years in prison if he is convicted. It could be more than a year before he goes to trial, assuming the case does go to trial.

 

“This is going to be an extremely difficult case for the defense to try, so as a result, I don’t think there will be a (future) plea agreement — that would mean Weinstein going to jail for life so he’s not going to choose that option,” says James Cohen, a law professor at New York’s Fordham University with long experience in criminal court.

Many of the allegations against Weinstein may be too old to prosecute under most American state laws but New York threw out its statute of limitations for most sex crimes in 2006.

 

Meanwhile, the Me Too movement has “dramatically changed the landscape” for prosecutions of sex crimes because jurors, especially male jurors, now have a better understanding of the reason why, for instance, women don’t always report sexual assault immediately, says Cohen.

 

“It’s a sea change in the prosecution of sexual offenses,” Cohen says, pointing to the Bill Cosby case, who was convicted in April of old sex-crime charges in a second trial that followed the Me Too revelations. “There’s no doubt in my mind, for some of those jurors, the Me Too movement was eye-opening.

 

“What males didn’t begin to get until the Me Too movement is that the kinds of thoughts that males had – oh, she didn’t report it right away, it must not have happened – those kinds of thoughts were vividly demonstrated to be without foundation.”

Only one of Weinstein’s two accusers in the case has been identified: Lucia Evans, a marketing consultant, alleges Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004.

Does a 14-year-old encounter fall within the statute of limitations? It might if the accuser has described acts involving “forcible compulsion” — crimes for which time limits for prosecuting them were lifted after 2001.

“I’d be astonished if Brafman did not raise this issue, to say, ‘nice try but the law didn’t change in time to prosecute my client on this charge,'” says Cohen.

“In this kind of a fight — and it will be a fight — the defense will go for everything they can get because the longer they’re litigating, the longer (Weinstein) is out (of jail). Any notion that the defense is interested in a ‘speedy trial’ is pure fiction.”

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