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Harvey Weinstein's LA driver testifies early for upcoming trial


Nepalnews
2022 Feb 24, 17:02, Los Angeles

Becoming the first witness to take the stand for Harvey Weinstein's upcoming Los Angeles trial, a limousine driver testified on Wednesday about working for the Hollywood producer.

Becoming the first witness to take the stand for Harvey Weinstein's upcoming Los Angeles trial, a limousine driver testified on Wednesday about working for the Hollywood producer.

According to Variety, Weinstein was convicted in February 2020 of counts of rape and sexual assault in New York and is serving a 23-year sentence on those charges. He is awaiting word on an appeal of that conviction after several justices expressed concern in December that he might not have received a fair trial.

Alfred 'Freddy' Baroth was called to testify early because L.A. prosecutors worry that his health could prevent him from appearing at the trial, which has not been scheduled and remains at least several months away. Baroth's testimony referred largely to trip records and invoices that established Weinstein's presence in the city on various dates in 2010 and 2013.

The disgraced Hollywood mogul is facing 11 counts of rape and sexual assault in incidents involving five women between 2004 and 2013. Weinstein appeared in a wheelchair, wearing a mask and a jail jumpsuit, and clutching a paperback copy of the bestselling novel 'All the Light We Cannot See', which is currently being adapted by Netflix as a limited series.

Baroth's testimony was videotaped, presumably so that it can be shown to the jury once the trial gets underway. He testified that he had picked up Weinstein at Clay Lacy Aviation, a charter jet service based in Van Nuys at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2013. Weinstein was in town for the Los Angeles, Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Baroth testified that he later took Weinstein to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Weinstein often stayed while visiting Los Angeles. An Italian actor and model had told a news outlet in 2017 that she spoke to Weinstein at the festival, and that he showed up after midnight at the Mr. C Hotel, near Beverly Hills, and forcibly raped her. Weinstein's attorneys have denied that he was at that hotel, reported Variety.

Weinstein faces three counts in connection with that alleged assault, including rape, forcible sexual penetration, and forcible oral copulation.

His attorney, Mark Werksman, noted that Baroth's invoice indicated he worked 8.5 hours on that date, including 30 minutes before and after for Baroth's commute, which suggested that he must have dropped Weinstein off at the Peninsula around 12:30 a.m.

Weinstein left town on February 20, 2013, according to the records. He is also charged with a sexual battery of another woman that allegedly occurred on February 19, 2013.

Baroth was also asked about two other Weinstein visits, from November 4-8, 2010, and May 6-11, 2010. Weinstein faces charges of rape and forcible oral copulation from an incident on November 5, 2010, and a charge of sexual battery on May 11, 2010.

On cross-examination, Baroth testified that he would drive Weinstein to meetings and events, and then wait by his car for the producer to emerge. Asked if he ever attended or witnessed the meetings, he said, "Absolutely not."

He said that Weinstein had paid him a USD 1,000 bonus after his last job for the producer, in October 2017, just after the sexual misconduct scandal broke. "I got bonuses every time Mr Weinstein came to town because I did a great job," Baroth said. He said that Weinstein had personally promised him an additional USD 10,000 bonus, but he never received it. He also said that Weinstein had subsequently paid for his attorneys' fees.

As per Variety, prosecutors have submitted a sealed motion seeking to allow "prior bad acts" witnesses to testify at the trial. Such witnesses would testify about assaults that are not covered by the indictment but could reinforce the charged offenses.

The defense has argued that none should be allowed to testify. That question has turned out to be a critical issue in the New York appeal. Judge Lisa Lench is set to hear argument on the issue on May 4.

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Harvey Weinstein Trial Hollywood producer Convicted SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS sexual abuse Prosecutors testimony lawsuit
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