Weinstein defense demands mistrial shortly after jury selection, charging one newly seated juror lied

By Molly Crane-Newman and Larry McShane

New York Daily News

NEW YORK — She moved from the jury box to the hot seat.

Attorneys for the Oscar-winning producer and accused sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein demanded a mistrial Friday over a newly chosen juror, accusing the author of playing fast and loose with the truth during questioning about her upcoming book.

Defense attorneys alleged the novel, due out this July, deals with the relationships between three teenage girls and predatory older men — an obvious parallel with the allegations against Weinstein. The juror denied that characterization during voir dire, insisting it was about the young characters and their parents.

But a website promoting the book promises a tale of “friendships, sexuality, class, and predatory older men on the journey from innocence to independence,” prompting the defense’s outrage.

The juror’s answers about her novel were rife with “inconsistencies and flat-out lies,” said Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno.

“Obviously we’re not happy with what happened in the end there,” continued Rotunno. “I think it was clear that one of the last jurors lied on her questionnaire and omitted some very important information that could be very integral to this case.”

Co-counsel Damon Cheronis, who questioned the juror, called the panelist “exactly the type of woman who should not sit on this jury … she lied about it all.”

The woman herself appeared stunned upon realizing that she was seated as one of the 12 jurors and three alternates. Justice James Burke will rule on the defense motion for a mistrial.

The latest courtroom contretemps began shortly after the jury of Weinstein’s peers was seated Friday, including a half-dozen white males chosen despite the prosecution’s pointed gripes over the lack of white women chosen to judge the accused sexual predator.

Jury selection in the Hollywood honcho’s much-anticipated sexual abuse trial seemed to wrap up with a panel of the six white men, three black women, two white women and a black male. The three alternate jurors were a white man, a Hispanic woman and a black woman.

Illuzzi on Friday renewed her objection from a day earlier that the defense was “systematically eliminating a class of people from this jury” — the white women candidates for the panel.

Weinstein, 67, faces trial in Manhattan Supreme Court for the alleged 2013 rape of a woman in a Manhattan hotel room and for allegedly performing a forcible sex act on a second woman in 2006 inside his Manhattan apartment. If convicted of the top charge, he faces life imprisonment.

More than 90 women, including several top Hollywood actresses, came forward in the last several years with allegations of Weinstein’s vile and perhaps criminal behavior.

Defense lawyer Arthur Aidala, after bumping one white woman from a seat on the jury, contended that the 26-year-old candidate would be unfamiliar with events from the 1990s that will be raised at the disgraced movie mogul’s trial.

“That was a different time,” he said. “She’d have to read the history books to learn what happened.”

Illuzzi noted that Aidala had no such qualms about approving a male juror of the same age.

“They already seated a 26-year-old!” she ranted. “So what the hell are they talking about?”

The defense also bumped a Hispanic woman who worked as a model in her younger days from a seat in the jury box after arguing she could harbor a grudge against Weinstein —though the two had never met.

“She says in (Facebook) posts that she’s an actress who didn’t make it,” said Aidala. “Who knows how she’s going to hold this against Mr. Weinstein, who used to be the person who selected people (for his films)?”