Politics

Judge threatens to jail Harvey Weinstein for using cellphone in court during #MeToo rape case

Key Points
  • Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was threatened with being jailed for contempt of court by a judge who spotted him using a cellphone during jury selection in his New York rape case.
  • Weinstein is accused of raping one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and of forcibly performing a sexual act on another woman in 2006.
  • Prosecutors in Los Angeles on Monday filed an indictment accusing the 67-year-old film producer of raping one woman and sexually assaulting a second one over a two-day period in 2013.
Harvey Weinstein uses a walker as he arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court, on January 7, 2020 on the second day of his criminal trial on charges of rape and sexual assault in New York City.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was threatened Tuesday with being jailed for contempt of court by a judge who spotted him using a cellphone in the courtroom during the first day of jury selection in his New York rape case.

"Mr. Weinstein, I cannot implore you more to not answer the following question — that means don't say anything," Judge James Burke told Weinstein, according to The New York Post.

"Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life by texting and violating a court order?" Burke asked before the jury selection process began.

Burke has previously warned Weinstein against using his cellphone in Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge has said that all electronic devices are not allowed and must be turned off in the room.

Weinstein actually surrendered two other cellphones to security when he entered the courtroom, BuzzFeed News reported.

But "court staff informed the judge that Weinstein had surrendered two phones and that he had pulled out two more — one of which he was using when Judge Burke entered the room," BuzzFeed reported.

Weinstein's spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, emailed CNBC a statement Tuesday afternoon:

"Mr. Weinstein never had any intention of upsetting the court. The use of his phone prior to the start of the proceeding, before the judge walked in, and from the gallery, was due to the misunderstand[ing] of the Judge's requirement by Mr. Weinstein's team. This whole scene could have been avoided had the bailiff, who saw his attorneys handing Mr. Weinstein his phones and reported it to the judge prior to his walking in, would have simply advised him then not to use it."

Also Tuesday, the lead prosecutor in the case, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, reportedly asked Burke to revoke Weinstein's bail and jail him pending the trial's outcome because of new sexual assault charges that were filed against him Monday by prosecutors in Los Angeles.

Weinstein is accused in the case pending in New York of raping one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and of forcibly performing a sexual act on another woman in 2006.

Burke declined to jail Weinstein.

Later, a 16-page questionnaire for prospective jurors was released.

The questions include one asking if jurors had "seen, read or heard about the defendant," whose case "has been widely publicized over the last year."

Upwards of 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

In the indictment unsealed Monday in Los Angeles, the 67-year-old film producer is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting a second one in separate attacks over a two-day period in 2013.

He has pleaded not guilty in the New York case and will be arraigned in the Los Angeles case in the future.

Weinstein has said that all sexual contact he had with women was consensual.

The Los Angeles prosecution and the New York trial come more than two years after allegations of serial sexual misdeeds by Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement.

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