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Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer denounces “almost medieval” conditions in the holding cell

THE ANGEL — Harvey Weinstein’s attorney told the judge at his sexual assault trial on Tuesday that the conditions in the holding cell where he is being held after the trial are “unsanitary” and “almost medieval”.

Attorney Mark Werksman asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench for help early on day two of jury selection in the former film mogul’s trial on 11 counts of rape and sexual assault.

He said Weinstein would be left alone in his wheelchair in an “unsanitary, smelly” cell in the courthouse for three or four hours before being taken back to jail.

“The conditions are almost medieval,” said Werksman. “He is 70 years old. I am concerned that he will survive this ordeal without suffering a heart attack or stroke.”

Weinstein and the panel of 71 judges called in Tuesday to fill out an initial questionnaire were not present for Werksman’s testimony.

Lench responded that she would speak to deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the prisons and transports inmates to court, but that their power on the matter was limited.

“I’m not downplaying it, I’m just not sure there’s much work to be done,” she said.

Weinstein, who is allowed to change from his prison garb to a suit for the trial, was soon wheeled into the courtroom and slowly and carefully climbed into a seat at the defense table.

Werksman then raised the issue again, suggesting that Weinstein not use the toilet in the cell.

Lench replied, “He has not been robbed of a toilet, there is a loo in the cell. I will not allow the record to reflect that he was robbed of a toilet.”

Werksman said he didn’t want to imply there was no toilet at all, saying “It’s unsanitary, it’s practically useless, it’s medieval.”

An email requesting comment from the Sheriff’s Department was not immediately responded to.

Weinstein’s attorneys have repeatedly addressed his ill health, both during his trial in New York, where he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault, and at his pretrial hearings in Los Angeles.

Immediately after being found guilty in New York in February 2020, he was hospitalized with chest pains and underwent heart surgery. In the first weeks of the pandemic, the prison was diagnosed with COVID-19.

His lawyers said he had diabetes and was “technically blind”. They asked the judge for permission to see an outside dentist because the one he sees in prison keeps pulling his teeth.

Pale and frail in court, he looks nothing like the bearded man who once ruled the Oscars every year.

Weinstein’s trial, which comes five years after women’s stories about him spurred the #MeToo movement, is expected to last eight weeks. With the slow process of screening and judges being selected from a pool of more than 200, opening statements are not expected until October 24th.

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