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Harvey Weinstein is asking a New York federal judge to stay proceedings in a civil suit brought by Alexandra Canosa.
The former Weinstein Co. employee in 2018 sued Weinstein, along with the company and several of its directors and executives, claiming he repeatedly raped and assaulted her under a looming threat of retaliation to her career. On Thursday, Weinstein’s attorney Imran Ansari told the court that it’s practically impossible for the jailed producer to sit for a deposition because of his poor health and that the matter should separately be put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case against him in Los Angeles. Under the current proposed deadlines, his deposition would need to be completed by Jan. 29.
“Mr. Weinstein’s health has had a dramatic decline this week, as heavily reported in the media,” writes Ansari in the motion, which is posted below. “These health concerns make it practically impossible to conduct his deposition and impedes his fundamental right to participate in his defense.”
According to the filing, those health concerns include diabetes mellitus, extensive coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, chronic leg pain, arthritis, anemia, spinal stenosis and several others, which Ansari argues put him at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19. (Reps for Weinstein on Thursday said that while he has recently been sick with a fever he has so far tested negative for COVID-19.)
That alone should be enough, Ansari argues, but because the nature of Canosa’s claims that he sexually assaulted and raped her is related to the criminal charges he’s facing, there’s also a severe risk of incrimination.
“Notwithstanding Mr. Weinstein’s vehement denials of these salacious accusations, and evidence to support that any sexual relationship was completely consensual, these allegations closely resemble the charges of sexual misconduct in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” writes Ansari. “In the absence of a stay, Mr. Weinstein’s constitutional rights to defend himself against the criminal allegations are unreasonably and unfairly burdened. Mr. Weinstein would be forced to make ‘the difficult choice between being prejudiced in the civil litigation,’ if he asserts his Fifth Amendment privilege, ‘or from being prejudiced in the criminal litigation if he … waives that privilege in the civil litigation.'”
Weinstein is currently facing 11 felony charges in L.A., including rape and sexual battery, and while his extradition to California has been put on hold because of the pandemic, his attorney says it’s imminent.
Canosa’s attorney Thomas Giuffra on Friday sent The Hollywood Reporter this statement in response to the filing: “Despite being convicted of rape and now residing in a penitentiary, Weinstein continues to attempt to delay justice for the survivors of his evil acts. This is not surprising as he will never want to submit to questioning regarding his serial acts of abuse.”
Nov. 20, 11:05 a.m. Updated with a statement from Alexandra Canosa’s attorney.
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