Fri. Jun 5th, 2020

Harvey Weinstein tests positive for coronavirus in prison: union official

2 min read

FILE PHOTO - Film producer Harvey Weinstein departs Criminal Court in new York

By Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) – Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual assault and rape, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the head of the state corrections officers union.

Weinstein, 68, has been placed in isolation at Wende Correctional Facility, said Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

Powers said he learned that the test came back positive on Sunday morning and is concerned about the corrections officers, who he said lack proper protective equipment. Several staff have been quarantined, Powers said.

Weinstein arrived at Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison east of Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday after being housed at New York City’s Rikers Island jail.

He was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11 for sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress.

Following the sentencing, Weinstein spent time at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for heart problems, according to his spokesman, Juda Engelmayer. He also has other medical issues, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

A lawyer for Weinstein said on Sunday night that his legal team had not been notified of the coronavirus diagnosis.

“Given Mr. Weinstein’s state of health, we are of course concerned, if this is the case, and we are vigilantly monitoring the situation,” said lawyer Imran Ansari, who is based in New York.

The Niagara Gazette, a local newspaper in upstate New York, reported that Weinstein had tested positive for the highly contagious virus earlier Sunday, citing anonymous officials.

Two prisoners at the Wende Facility have confirmed cases of COVID-19, a state prison official told Reuters. The official said he could not comment on any individual prisoner’s medical record.

The official told Reuters that, with each confirmed case, the Department of Corrections works with the Department of Health to identify potentially exposed people.

Mark David Chapman, who murdered Beatle John Lennon in 1980, served some of his time at Wende Correctional Facility, as did Robert Chambers, dubbed the “Preppie killer,” who strangled 18-year-old Jennifer Levin in New York City’s Central Park in 1986.

Weinstein’s conviction was hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct by powerful men.

More than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. He has denied the allegations, saying any sex was consensual. 

Weinstein also faces separate sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.

Weinstein won an Academy Award for producing “Shakespeare in Love” and was responsible for other acclaimed films including “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient” and “Gangs of New York.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Diane Craft)

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