Harvey Weinstein Lawsuit
Christi: Let’s get the legal aspect of this with CNN Legal Analyst Page Pate, who’s sticking around for a lot of discussions with me.
Page: Happy to be here.
Christi: I know, a lot of discussions today. First of all, without physical evidence in this particular case, what is the most valuable element for New York prosecutors?
Page: The testimony of the victim. A lot of people don’t realize this, but in most rape prosecutions, sexual assault prosecutions, there usually isn’t any physical corroborating evidence. I mean, if it’s something that happened within the last 12, 24 hours, they may be able to do a rape kit at the hospital. They may be able to collect physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony. But especially when we’re talking about a historical case, a case that goes back several years, you’re usually just going to have the victim’s testimony. So it’s gonna be a she said, he said type of situation.
Christi: The last we heard, Harvey Weinstein, I believe, was in Arizona seeking treatment, is what his people said. If he is out of state, how does New York get him back if charges are filed?
Page: Well, it’s simple. It takes some time. They have to first get an arrest warrant from a judge in New York. Then they have to seek extradition from Arizona. So they’ll send that warrant to the authorities in Arizona. They will arrest him in Arizona, hold him there, have a brief hearing, a short hearing, then they’ll move him back to New York to face the charges.
Christi: We keep hearing him saying, you know, his contention is that any allegations of non-consensual sex were wrong. Is his defense that he thought it was consensual? Is that all he’s got?
Page: It sounds that way. And, again, that’s commonly the defense you have in these cases, because you don’t want to try to say, “Well, I wasn’t with her at this time,” because there’ll probably be witnesses or other evidence that can document that they were together. So it is common. In fact, if not the most common, one of the most common defenses is, “Yeah, we did it, but she wanted to do it.” And so consent becomes a major issue in almost any sexual assault case.
Christi: Of course, we’re hearing this morning that Netflix is not gonna be involved with any further production of “House of Cards” that includes Kevin Spacey, as all the news has come out about sexual harassment and assault allegations against him in the last week. He is seeking unspecified treatment. I don’t know what that means. Do you have any idea what that means? And does it make him vulnerable to lawsuits to some degree? Because he did get on Instagram and essentially apologized to one alleged victim this week.
Page: Yes, yes. Well, he’s already vulnerable to lawsuits. I mean, the one protection that people like Kevin Spacey have is that most states have statutes of limitations for civil cases that are different for criminal cases. So I believe in California the time period is, like, five years, so if you don’t file suit after the incident happens within that five year period, you can’t ever sue him. But some people still proceed with those cases thinking, “Well, he’s a, you know, high-profile guy. Maybe he’ll give me some money just to avoid having this play out in the media.” A lot of times we’ll see people who are in that position who think a civil suit’s coming or maybe even a criminal charge trying to seek the treatment, the unspecified treatment, which maybe he needs it, maybe it’s beneficial, but I think it’s more geared towards, “Look, if I had a problem, I’m addressing it.” And sometimes that can help you negotiate a criminal case as far as punishment, but not a void.
Christi: All right. Page Pate, we so appreciate your insight…
Page: Thank you, Christi.
Christi: …this morning on all things today, thank you.
Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of our firm’s “The Federal Docket” and a contributor to Mercer Law Review’s Annual Survey in the areas of federal law. Tom was named a “Top 40 Under 40” lawyer by The National Trial Lawyers, and is a recognized expert in federal sentencing law. He graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.