Harvey Weinstein appears at extradition hearing after indictment in California

Hollywood movie producer continues to assert he's innocent of sexual assault charges

In this image taken from video, Harvey Weinstein appears from prison during his virtual extradition hearing in Erie County Court before Judge Kenneth Case, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (New York Unified Court System via AP)
Powered by automated translation

Harvey Weinstein has been indicted in California on sexual assault charges, one of his lawyers said on Monday, as the former Hollywood movie producer appeared in a New York court over his possible extradition.

Weinstein, 69, wore a collarless, rust-coloured shirt as he appeared in a video from the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case.

He has been appealing against his February 2020 conviction in Manhattan and 23-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

California's criminal case against Weinstein covers alleged attacks on five women from 2004 to 2013 in the Los Angeles area.

It includes four counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force.

Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

Norman Effman, a public defender representing Weinstein, asked that his client be arraigned online on the indictment in New York rather than extradited so he could receive necessary medical treatment, including scheduled eye and dental surgery.

Mr Effman said Weinstein, a diabetic, is "almost technically blind at this point", and also suffers from cardiac and back problems.

"We're not trying to avoid what is going to happen in California," Mr Effman said.

"We believe there is not only a defence to these charges but a very good defence to these charges", which would result in an acquittal.

The LA County District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weinstein's indictment was reported earlier by The Los Angeles Times. Another hearing is scheduled for April 30.

His conviction was a milestone moment in the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment by men, including many like Weinstein, who once held powerful jobs and influence.

If convicted in California, he could spend the rest of his life in prison, even if his New York conviction were to be overturned.

"These are stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement," said Weinstein's criminal defence lawyer, Mark Werksman.

"We're confident that Mr Weinstein will be acquitted because there's no credible evidence against him. He's innocent."

The District Attorney for LA first sought Weinstein's extradition last July, but it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.