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National Entertainment

Judge declines to throw out Harvey Weinstein criminal case

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NEW YORK — A New York judge declined to dismiss sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein Thursday, rejecting the latest push from the disgraced film producer’s lawyers to have his indictment thrown out.

Judge James Burke’s ruling buoyed a prosecution that has appeared on rocky ground in recent months amid a prolonged defence effort to raise doubts about the case and the police investigation.

Weinstein’s lawyers argued the case had been “irreparably tainted” by a detective’s alleged coaching of a potential witness and one of the accusers. They also said the grand jury should have been shown evidence that Weinstein had exchanged friendly emails with his two accusers after the alleged attacks.

But Burke ruled that Weinstein’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct had “no basis.” He also denied Weinstein’s request for an evidentiary hearing.

Weinstein’s next court date is scheduled for March 7.

Weinstein’s defence attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said he was disappointed with Burke’s ruling, but said he remains confident Weinstein will be “completely exonerated” at trial.

“We intend to vigorously defend this case to the best of our ability,” Brafman told reporters after the hearing. “It does not in any way suggest that the case against Mr. Weinstein is going to end badly.”

Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. He left court without commenting.

He is charged with raping an unidentified female acquaintance in his hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.

Images of Weinstein, the notoriously bombastic producer of Oscar winners “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient,” in handcuffs last spring were seen by many women as a cathartic moment in the #MeToo reckoning. About half a dozen women supporting Time’s Up, including actresses Amber Tamblyn and Marisa Tomei, were at the hearing Thursday.

“Today, here in New York, we saw the first steps towards justice,” Time’s Up President Lisa Borders said after the judge’s ruling.

Burke could have dismissed some or all of the charges, which would have been a major setback for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who was criticized for declining to pursue criminal charges against Weinstein when he was accused of groping an Italian model in 2015. Vance cited a lack of supporting evidence at the time, despite the existence of a clandestinely made recording of Weinstein discussing the episode with the woman.

But in recent months, Weinstein worked side-by-side with Brafman to throw doubt on the case and his accusers. They plucked emails from his movie studio’s servers they say showed Weinstein had friendly, consensual relationships with the women.

Weinstein’s defence was boosted in October by back-to-back allegations of misconduct in the police investigation.

Manhattan prosecutors dropped one of the charges against him — allegations that he raped an aspiring actress who was still in college — after evidence surfaced that Det. Nicholas DiGaudio instructed a potential witness to keep some of her doubts about the veracity of the allegations to herself.

DiGaudio allegedly told the witness in February that when she spoke to prosecutors, “less is more.” That witness never testified before the grand jury that indicted Weinstein.

Burke, in his ruling, noted that count was dismissed not because prosecutors disbelieved the alleged victim but because they determined they may not have been able to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors also disclosed an allegation that DiGaudio urged the 2013 rape accuser to delete private material from her cellphones before handing them over to the DA’s office.

Prosecutors said the material didn’t pertain to Weinstein and the woman wound up not deleting anything. DiGaudio’s union has said he “was simply trying to get to the truth” and wasn’t trying to influence the investigation.

Late last month, Weinstein’s lawyers said they spoke to a woman who said the rape accuser asked her to corroborate her allegations, but the friend wouldn’t “make up a story.”

The friend told investigators that Weinstein and the accuser had been “hooking up” consensually for a while and that she never heard her say anything bad about him until last year, Brafman said in a court filing.

In the months after The New York Times and The New Yorker began publishing stories about Weinstein’s interactions with women, activists pressured Vance to bring charges as dozens of people came forward with claims of sexual misconduct against him.

New York Police officials poured on the pressure, too, saying publicly they believed they had gathered ample evidence to make an arrest.

Burke’s ruling revealed that Weinstein had agreed in May to testify before the grand jury considering his case. He was arrested days later and then withdrew his notice to testify before the grand jury that charged him.

Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press




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National Entertainment

‘Game of Thrones’ earns a record-breaking 32 Emmy nods

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Game of Thrones earns 32 Emmy nods

LOS ANGELES — HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has slashed its way to a record-setting 32 Emmy nominations Tuesday for its eighth and final season.

The bloodthirsty saga’s total eclipsed the all-time series record of 27 nods earned by “NYPD Blue” in 1994.

The showing by “Game of Thrones” led HBO back to dominance over Netflix, the streaming service that bumped it last year from its longtime Emmy dominance.

Last year’s best comedy series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” led the pack with 20 bids, including for its star and defending champion Rachel Brosnahan.

“The Masked Singer” judge Ken Jeong and “The Good Place” star D’Arcy Carden announced top-category contenders at the Television Academy in Los Angeles.

The 71st Emmy Awards will air Sept. 22 on Fox, with the host yet to be announced.

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press



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National Entertainment

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard to stand trial in sex assault case

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medley frontman to stand trial

TORONTO — Jacob Hoggard, the frontman for the Canadian rock band Hedley, will stand trial on three sex-related charges involving a woman and a teenager, a judge ruled Friday.

Ontario Court Justice Mara Greene decided that the case should proceed after prosecutors gave an overview of their evidence and Hoggard’s lawyer agreed it met the threshold for a trial.

The evidence was presented over a two-day preliminary hearing in Toronto.

It cannot be divulged, however, due to a publication ban meant to protect the accused’s right to a fair trial. A publication ban is also in place to protect the identities of the complainants.

Hoggard, 35, nodded silently as the judge gave her decision, then sat back down next to his lawyer.

Earlier in the hearing, the singer pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference. He also requested to be tried by a jury.

Hoggard was arrested and charged last summer after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged.

Toronto police have said the charges relate to three separate incidents involving a woman and a girl under the age of 16 that allegedly occurred in the Toronto area in 2016.

Hoggard has previously denied engaging in non-consensual sexual behaviour, but has said he acted in a way that objectifies women.

“I understand the significant harm that is caused not only to the women I interacted with, but to all women who are degraded by this type of behaviour,” he said on Twitter last year. “I have been careless and indifferent and I have no excuse. For this I am truly sorry.”

Hedley, a two-time Juno-winning band based in Vancouver, has been on an indefinite hiatus since the allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Its last show was in Kelowna, B.C., on March 24, 2018.

The group was also dropped by its management team, blacklisted by several radio stations and renounced by other performers booked on their tour.

Fans of the band have attended at least one previous hearing in the case even when Hoggard was absent.

A trial date has not yet been set but a hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Paola Loriggio , The Canadian Press

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