07:57, February 28 79 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-28 07:57:04
Harvey Weinstein starts work on appeal from New York hospital

Days after he was convicted of rape and a criminal sex act, Harvey Weinstein is working on his appeal while he remains in Bellevue hospital in New York awaiting a probable transfer to Rikers Island jail complex before his sentencing.

Weinstein was admitted to Bellevue on Monday after concerns were expressed about high blood pressure and heart palpitations. During his trial Donna Rotunno, one of his lawyers, told the judge that he has back injuries stemming from a car crash last summer and a condition that requires shots in his eyes, so he does not go blind. Another of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, told the Hollywood Reporter that neither Weinstein nor his legal team had requested the admission, and that it was a decision by the New York City Department of Corrections.

Aidala said that he is already discussing an appeal against the guilty verdicts, and that Weinstein “gave some directions about how to proceed”.

If and when he is discharged from Bellevue, it is likely Weinstein will enter Rikers Island before being moved to a state prison. While the Department of Corrections decides where inmates are housed, trial judge James Burke has said he will ask that Weinstein be placed in Rikers Island’s North Infirmary Command, where he would have something tantamount to protective custody.

Weinstein is due to be sentenced on 11 March. He was convicted on two counts: a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a woman in 2006 and third-degree rape for a 2013 attack on another woman. Together, the charges carry a maximum penalty of 29 years in prison.

Miriam Haley, the former production assistant who accused Weinstein of forcing oral sex on her in 2006, said the verdict had provided “huge relief”. “I just think that we’re being educated about the reality of sexual assault and sexual assault victims,” Haley said on CBS This Morning. “It’s not always just a stranger. It’s very often somebody that the person knows, and with that comes an entire other layer of processing.”

Weinstein also faces charges in California, with allegations that he raped a woman at a Los Angeles hotel in 2013, then sexually assaulted a different woman in a Beverly Hills hotel the next night. He could be jailed for up to 28 years on the charges in the California case. Additional sexual assault cases are under investigation by police in the LA area.

In the UK, Labour MP Chi Onwurah called for Weinstein’s CBE to be rescinded following his conviction. In a letter to the Cabinet Office, Onwurah said: “In light of the guilty verdict, will the secretariat finally strip Mr Weinstein of his CBE as I first requested on 11 October 2017? Or will they continue to honour Mr Weinstein at the expense of all those who have experienced sexual violence and especially his victims?” Downing Street said Weinstein’s honour was a matter for the independent panel but added that Boris Johnson’s government was “crystal clear” in its condemnation of sexual abuse.

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