Harvey Weinstein was born in New York City, raised in New York City, and, a little over a year ago, arrested in New York City on rape charges. But he doesn’t want his upcoming criminal trial to take place in New York City. In fact, lawyers for Weinstein have filed a court motion asking that his trial be moved out of the city, the New York Times reports.
The reason for the request has much to do with Manhattan’s aggressive media scrutiny, which Weinstein’s legal team argues will interfere with his trial and with jurors’ impartial consideration. “New York City is the least-likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” Weinstein attorney Arthur L. Aidala wrote.
The motion was filed with the New York State appellate court last Friday. There are other reasons as well for the desired change in venue. Per the Times, Weinstein's team argues “that Times Square billboards and newsstands on every corner mean city residents cannot avoid headlines related to Mr. Weinstein, and that Manhattan is the epicenter of global hashtag-driven movements like #MeToo.”
During the nearly two years since Weinstein was accused of sexual abuse and harassment by more than 75 women—spurred by bombshell stories from both the New York Times and The New Yorker, which led directly to the #MeToo movement—the disgraced movie mogul has been a subject of near-constant tabloid headlines. The court motion specifically notes that Page Six has mentioned Weinstein’s name more than 11,000 times. “It is difficult to conceive of a similar case in recent memory that has generated more inflammatory press coverage,” Aidala writes.
Of course, reporters will aggressively cover Weinstein’s trial no matter where it’s held—but the argument is that the media circus would be more overwhelming in Manhattan, where much of the mainstream media apparatus is centralized.
Weinstein’s trial is slated to begin next month; he is currently free on $1 million bail. The former mogul was arrested in May 2018 and formally charged with rape, criminal sexual act, and predatory sexual assault. The charges stem from accusations of two women, one of whom, Lucia Evans, originally told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at a casting meeting in 2004, when she was a college student. The rape charges stem from a separate 2013 incident, in which Weinstein allegedly kept a woman "physically against her will” and raped her. The accuser in that case has not been publicly identified.