October 3, 2019 / 6:56 PM / 13 days ago

Harvey Weinstein loses bid to have rape trial moved out of New York City

Film producer Harvey Weinstein leaves after a hearing in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, August 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jefferson Siegel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on Thursday lost his bid to get his upcoming rape trial moved out of New York City, where he has said intense media scrutiny would make it impossible for him to get a fair jury.

Once among Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Weinstein 67, is scheduled to stand trial in Manhattan in January. He is accused of assaulting two women in 2006 and 2013. To bolster their case, prosecutors will call a third woman to testify that Weinstein raped her in 1993.

Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, faces a life sentence if convicted.

Roughly 70 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Weinstein has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

The accusations helped spark the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, politics, the news media and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

Weinstein had asked a state appeals court in Manhattan to move the trial to Long Island or Albany.

“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” his lawyers wrote.

The court on Thursday denied his motion in a brief order without explanation.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. A lawyer for Weinstein could not immediately be reached.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Steve Orlofsky

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