Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's attorney says there's no way his client can get a fair criminal trial in New York City and wants it moved -- possibly to upstate New York.
Weinstein, 67, is accused of raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
He faces five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.
His trial is set to begin September 9, but attorney Arthur Aidala has asked for a stay in the proceedings as the court considers the change-of-venue motion.
He listed Albany or Suffolk County as possible alternatives to New York City for the trial. Albany, the state capital, is roughly 150 miles north of New York City; Suffolk County is on eastern Long Island.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has not filed a response to the request to change venue.
'Ground zero' for #MeToo activism
In court documents, Aidala blames a "deluge of local, national and international news, press coverage and online social media hysteria that has universally demonized defendant and prejudged him as guilty, not just of the crimes charged, but of many, many others."
And he said New York City is particularly hostile to Weinstein.
"Political, cultural and social organizations with headquarters in Manhattan ("MeToo" and "Times Up") were catapulted to prominence as a direct result of Harvey Weinstein's arrest in this case and New York City is ground zero in their activism, with such activities as the so-called women's march, and the rallying cry "believe all women," a position that is antithetical to due process," Aidala wrote.
A 'circus-like atmosphere'
The attorney also said Weinstein's court appearances "have been characterized by a circus-like atmosphere," including appearances by celebrities "to show support for complainants they do not even know."
He also said an internet search of the New York Post's Page Six, "a mainstay of local New York City news and the name Harvey Weinstein in 2019, yields over 11,000 hits."
"This is a mere prelude to what will greet the jurors on every newsstand and on the courthouse steps, as they make their way through the city each day to perform their duties."