By ANDREW DALTON, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein’s attorney told the judge at his sexual assault trial Tuesday that conditions in the holding cell where he is held after court are “unsanitary” and “almost medieval.”
Attorney Mark Werksman asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench for help at the start of the second day of jury selection in the former movie mogul’s trial on 11 counts of rape and sexual assault.
He said Weinstein will be left alone in his wheelchair for three to four hours in an “unhygienic and fetid” holding cell at the courthouse before being taken back to jail.
“It’s almost medieval, the conditions,” Werksman said. “He is 70 years old. I am concerned that he will survive this ordeal without a heart attack or stroke.”
Weinstein and the 71-member juror panel who were called in to complete an initial questionnaire Tuesday were not yet present during Werksman’s remarks.
Lench responded that he would talk to deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which runs jails and transports inmates to court, but that his power on the matter was limited.
“I’m not downplaying it, I’m just not sure there’s much to be done,” she said.
Weinstein, who is allowed to change into a suit from his prison attire for the trial, was wheeled into the courtroom shortly afterward, and slowly and carefully climbed into a seat at the defense table. .
Werksman later raised the issue again, suggesting that Weinstein did not have a bathroom to use in the cell.
Lench responded: “He is not deprived of a bathroom, there is a bathroom in the cell. I am not going to let the record reflect that he is deprived of a bathroom.”
Werksman said he didn’t mean to suggest there was no bathroom, but said: “It’s not hygienic, it’s practically unusable, it’s medieval.”
An email seeking comment from the Sheriff’s Department was not immediately returned.
Weinstein’s lawyers have brought up his failing 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 pre-trial hearings in Los Angeles.
He was hospitalized with chest pains and had a heart procedure immediately after being found guilty in New York in February 2020, and was diagnosed with COVID-19 in prison in the early weeks of the pandemic.
His lawyers have said he has diabetes and is “technically blind.” They have asked the judge for permission to see an outside dentist because the one he sees in jail keeps pulling his teeth.
In court, he appears pale and frail, looking nothing like the bassist man who once presided over the Oscars every year.
Weinstein’s trial, which comes five years after women’s stories about him fueled the #MeToo movement, is expected to last eight weeks. With the jury selection and selection process slow from a pool of more than 200, opening statements are not expected until October 24.
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