New York Daily News
Says judge, jury were biased in rape trial
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein appealed his rape and criminal sex act conviction Monday, alleging he didn’t get a fair shake during his monthlong 2020 trial in Manhattan Criminal Court.
The jailed moviemaker’s lawyers claim Judge James Burke, who presided over Weinstein’s trial, was biased from the outset along with a woman on the jury who was writing a novel about predatory older men when she voted to convict.
Juror No. 11, Amanda Brainerd, was gearing up to celebrate the summer 2020 release of “Age of Consent,” a novel published by Penguin Random House involving “predatory male teachers” and “sexual relationships with older men and the power adults hold” over younger women, when she was selected as a juror.
“Clearly, the fact that the prospective juror had written a book that involves sexual relationships between women and ‘predatory older men’ — the very accusation against Mr. Weinstein — is something that should have been disclosed, even absent a direct question,” the appeal states.
“For reasons that seem obvious even then, however, she wanted to sit as a juror on this specific case and avoid disclosing anything that would prevent her from doing so.”
Weinstein was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape on Feb. 24, 2020. The jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting Miriam Haley inside his SoHo loft in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann inside the DoubleTree hotel on March 18, 2013.
He was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11, 2020, just a day before the court system announced statewide closures due to a burgeoning coronavirus epidemic.
In the long-anticipated appeal filed Monday, Weinstein’s lawyers say Judge Burke made his disdain for the producer clear in an offhand comment he made before trial one day.
“Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life?” an incredulous Burke asked Weinstein, who was looking at his cell phone despite repeated warnings not to.
The imprisoned producer in his appeal also took aim at the three women who testified to uncharged bad acts at his trial: Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young.
Dunning told the jury how Weinstein told her joining him for a threesome was the best way to kick-start her acting career.
“He kind of just cut to the chase and said, ‘Here’s contracts for my next three films. I’ll sign them today if you have a threesome with me and my assistant,’ ” the one-time aspiring actress recounted of her alleged creepy spring 2004 encounter with Weinstein.
When Dunning realized Weinstein wasn’t joking, she ran out of the InterContinental hotel room in Manhattan where he pitched the proposition, she said.
“He was screaming,” Dunning testified. “He said, ‘You’ll never make it in this business! This is how the industry works!’ ”
Wulff told the jury she first met Weinstein when she was working as a waitress at the producer’s former downtown haunt, Cipriani.
There, the producer invited her to his Greenwich Village apartment to “try out” for a film.
Wulff said she realized there was no audition upon arriving at Weinstein’s lair, where, she testified, he took her by the arms, laid her on his bed and climbed on top of her.
“I told him ‘I can’t,’ and he answered ‘Don’t worry, I had a vasectomy,’ ” Wulff said. “I just went blank,” she said stoically, “as he put himself inside me and raped me.”
Young, testifying about a disturbing incident Weinstein is charged with in Los Angeles, said he sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom.
Young said the producer pinned her against a sink inside the Montage hotel while groping her breast and masturbating to an orgasm.
“How am I going to know if you can act?” Weinstein said as the assault was underway, Young testified on Feb. 5, 2020.
Weinstein’s lawyers claim Dunn, Young and Wulff distracted the jury from the case’s central elements and forced his legal team to mount an insurmountable defense.
“Forced to defend a half-dozen minitrials involving belated allegations of sexual misconduct by women with strong incentives to recollect their experiences inconsistent with reality, Weinstein was stripped of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution relieved of its burden of proof,” the producer’s appeal states.
Weinstein has been locked up at Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York where he’s awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to sit trial a second time on more sex crimes charges.