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Harvey Weinstein hires new legal team for NYC sex assault case

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Harvey Weinstein hires new legal team for NYC sex assault case
Film producer Harvey Weinstein (center) hired a new legal team as he prepares to defend against five felony sexual assault charges this May. Pool photo by Alec Tabak/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Harvey Weinstein has hired new attorneys, the same high-profile defense team used by two NFL players, as he prepares to face criminal sexual assault charges in New York City.

Weinstein hired Jose Baez, who represented former NFL player Aaron Hernandez over a 2012 murder conviction, and Harvard University law professor Ronald S. Sullivan, who represented former NFL player Plaxico Burress.

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Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five felony charges -- two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. A sixth charge was dropped last fall.

"Mr. Weinstein steadfastly maintains his innocence in this matter and we are looking forward to assisting Mr. Weinstein in his defense," Baez said Wednesday.

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Baez famously won an acquittal for Casey Anthony, a mother who was accused in her child's death in 2011.

The charges against the disgraced film producer stem from an incident at a New York City hotel in 2013 in which he's accused of raping a woman. He's also accused of forcing a sex act on a production assistant seven years earlier.

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The new legal team has to appear in a Manhattan Supreme Court as a formality to make the switch official, but no date has been set. His trial starts May 7.

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Weinstein's previous defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, withdrew from the case last week. He said the #MeToo movement impacted Weinstein's case, as well as those involving other celebrities.

"I have a daughter; I have granddaughters. I'd like them to not have to deal with harassment, discrimination and an unequal pay scale," Brafman said. "But a movement becomes dangerous when it generates the kind of hatred that keeps a person from getting a fair trial."

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