Witness chooses not to testify at Harvey Weinstein’s L.A. trial

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A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein will face one fewer witness when his new trial begins in October. The original plan was for prosecutors to call five “prior bad acts” witnesses to testify against Weinstein, who would support the five other women whose accusations are at the heart of the case.

A “prior bad act” witness anonymized as “Miss I” has now decided against giving evidence in court, though it appears prosecutors were prepared for this and had a replacement lined up. Judge Lisa Lench has denied the application to introduce this new witness, ruling that her evidence is too similar to other witnesses to be useful to the jury.

In addition, the judge also ruled that the prosecution cannot call Lauren Sivan to give evidence. Sivan alleges Weinstein masturbated in front of her at a restaurant, but in a somewhat depressing indication of how common this behavior was from Weinstein, the judge ruled this incident was so similar to others that her evidence is superfluous.

Lench also denied defense applications for a pre-trial evidentiary hearing to hear testimony from the “prior bad acts” witnesses, and that the prosecution disclose records of communication between witnesses and law enforcement.

The prosecution losing a witness is by no means an indication that Weinstein is out of the woods. The 70-year-old is facing 11 counts of rape and sexual in the Los Angeles Court. A prominent accuser is model and actor Ambra Battliana Gutierrez, notable for being one of the first women to report Weinstein’s behavior to police in 2015.

Manhattan prosecutors declined to pursue charges, sparking controversy when the scandal eventually hit the headlines in 2017. As such, this will be Gutierrez’s first opportunity to make her case in open court.

The trial will begin on Oct. 10.