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Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty for third time as trial gets delayed

2019-08-26

Harvey Weinstein is seen arriving before his arraignment in State Supreme Court. (Alec Tabak for New York Daily News)

Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to rape and sex assault charges Monday for the third time since his arrest last year as a Manhattan judge delayed his trial until next year.

Prosecutors went back to the grand jury, filing a new indictment just two weeks before the expected Sept. 9 trial date in Manhattan Supreme Court.

It forced Justice James Burke to postpone the high-profile proceeding until Jan. 9 to give Weinstein’s legal team time to file motions.

In a moment of levity, Burke prodded Weinstein about whether that date was acceptable as his lawyers tried to push it back to an even later date..

“Mr. Weinstein, do you want to go to trial?” Burke said.

“Not really,” Weinstein mused from his seat at the defense table. “Not with this new case.”

The Manhattan District Attorney sought a grand jury do-over after Justice James Burke barred them from calling “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra as a witness to support charges of predatory sex assault.

Burke reasoned that because she was not a witness in front of the secret panel when the charges were voted she could not be properly called to testify.

So prosecutors brought the case back in front of a secret panel using Sciorra as a witness to support the case.

The backdoor maneuver forced Burke to give Weinstein’s legal team at least 45 days to fight the move.

Weinstein’s legal team is expected to fight consolidation of the new indictment with previous charges. They will insist that Sciorra should continue to be prohibited from going before a jury.

Weinstein, 67, faces a minimum of 10 years behind bars on predatory sex assault, the top count.

He’s also charged with raping a woman who has never been publicly identified at the Doubletree Hotel on Lexington Ave. in 2013 and with forcing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.

Weinstein has been indicted three times since his May 25, 2018, arrest.

In his second indictment, the predatory sex assault counts were added as prosecutors sought to hold the fallen movie industry mogul accountable for pattern behavior.

Charges relating to accuser Lucia Evans were dropped in October when prosecutors disclosed problems with her credibility.