In the six months since Harvey Weinstein built his new “dream team” of heavy-hitting lawyers to represent him against sexual assault charges in Manhattan, the movie producer’s carefully selected legal cast has completely fallen apart.
Weinstein, whose alleged sexual misconduct set in motion the global #MeToo movement, jettisoned his first lawyer in January. He then hired a team that included a former Manhattan prosecutor and three attorneys who had defended celebrities and some of the country’s most vilified defendants.
But one by one, Weinstein’s new lawyers have bowed out. With less than three months until the trial begins, Jose Baez, one of the producer’s last remaining lawyers, asked a state Supreme Court justice in Manhattan to allow him to withdraw from the case, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications.
“Mr Weinstein has been aware since at least May 15 that it was very unlikely that I would be able to continue on this case,” Baez said in a letter to Justice James Burke.
Weinstein formed his team of star lawyers after he parted ways with Benjamin Brafman, a prominent defense lawyer in Manhattan, following weeks of intense arguing.
Weinstein, 67, faces charges that he raped one woman, who has not been identified, at a Midtown hotel in March 2013, and forced a second woman, Mimi Haleyi, a production assistant, to let him perform oral sex on her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Weinstein has denied the allegations and has said the sexual encounters were consensual.