Harvey Weinstein's bail hiked over monitoring issues
Harvey Weinstein, centre, arrives for a court hearing in New York, on Dec. 11, 2019. (Mark Lennihan / AP)
NEW YORK -- Harvey Weinstein's bail was increased from US$1 million to $5 million on Wednesday over allegations he violated his pretrial release conditions by mishandling or disabling his electronic ankle monitor dozens of times in recent months.
Judge James Burke warned the disgraced movie mogul that he'll face jail if other issues crop up.
Weinstein, 67, leaned on a walker as he came and went from a New York City courthouse for the bail hearing, looking as frail and pained as he did at a court appearance last week.
Weinstein's lawyer said he is having back surgery Thursday to relieve pain from an August car crash and that he will recover in time for the Jan. 6 start of his trial on rape and sexual assault charges.
"If you have any further medical issues, the court will not be terribly understanding," Burke said, cautioning Weinstein against any last-minute surprises as the trial draws near.
Weinstein, sounding calm and respectful, indicated the surgery and new bail arrangement would help ensure his appearance at his trial.
"This ensures I am here Jan. 6," Weinstein said. "This is a good thing for you."
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.
He had been free on $1 million bail and maintains that any sexual activity was consensual.
Weinstein's lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said he is "looking forward" to the trial and that they plan an aggressive defence with vigorous cross-examination. She said those tactics shouldn't be viewed as victim shaming.
"Just because someone makes a claim doesn't make it true," Rotunno said.
For the new bail, Burke offered three options under reforms to New York's bail system that are set to take effect on Jan. 1.
Other than paying $5 million cash, Burke said Weinstein could meet his bail obligation by either putting up $2 million through a bail bondsman or using collateral to secure 10% -- or $5 million -- of a $50 million bond with collateral.
Weinstein's defence team chose the bail bondsman option, enlisting Ira Judelson, whose clients have included mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor and former International Monetary Fund honcho Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
One of Judelson's associates outside the courthouse wore a sweatshirt with the slogan, "Got Bail?"
Rotunno said the $1 million that Weinstein previously posted and other assets will go toward the new bail.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi first raised Weinstein's alleged bail violations at a hearing last Friday, saying that he'd left his whereabouts unrecorded for hours at a time by repeatedly, purposely leaving at home a piece of the monitoring technology that keeps the ankle bracelet activated.
Illuzzi said Wednesday there were 57 violations in less than two months.
Rotunno has denied it was anything deliberate, blaming "technical glitches" like dead batteries and said it had nothing to do with manipulation of the bracelet, though she acknowledged that on at least one occasion, he'd forgotten part of the device at house.
But on Wednesday, Illuzzi told the court that the person monitoring Weinstein does not believe the problems were due to technical glitches, but rather intentional acts by Weinstein because "didn't want anyone to know where he was."
In recent months, Weinstein has been spotted hobnobbing at Manhattan nightclubs and getting jeered at a recent actors showcase.
While the monitoring now appears to be working, Illuzzi said she thought that was because of the threat of new bail.
"I don't think it was the adding of the extra batteries," Illuzzi said. "It was Mr. Weinstein's panic that the court might change the bail."
After the hearing, Rotunno countered Illuzzi's assertion.
"There were no violations. These were technical issues related to a battery," she said. "Ms. Illuzzi makes mountains out of mole hills."