Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is so eager to send Harvey Weinstein to prison for life that he’s re-presenting the case to a grand jury so actress Annabella Sciorra can testify against the disgraced producer.
The grand jury heard evidence against Weinstein this week, and is scheduled to vote on a new indictment on Aug. 26, sources told The Post on Thursday.
The move came just weeks ahead of the scheduled Sept. 9 start of Weinstein’s blockbuster sex-assault trial, which could be delayed as a result.
In court papers, Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said prosecutors planned to obtain a new indictment against Weinstein that’s based in part on Sciorra’s claim that he raped her more than 25 years ago.
Weinstein can’t be charged in the alleged attack inside Sciorra’s Gramercy Park apartment due to the statute of limitations that was in effect at the time.
But testimony from the actress, best known for her role in “The Sopranos,” could be used to bolster two pending counts of predatory sexual assault against Weinstein, 67.
The charges are the most serious that he faces, and carry a maximum life sentence.
Legal experts said Vance’s strategy was highly unusual.
“I’ve never seen a prosecutor go back into the grand jury three weeks before trial,” said Daniel Bibb, who was a Manhattan prosecutor for two decades and has been practicing as a defense lawyer for 13 years. “It could indicate that they lack confidence in their case.”
The predatory sexual assault counts require that prosecutors prove that Weinstein committed a serious sex crime against at least two women.
The current indictment is based on allegations that he forcibly performed oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raped a longtime lover, who hasn’t been publicly identified, in 2013.
If jurors reject one of these victim’s claims, Sciorra’s allegations can still be used as the second sex crime to satisfy the predatory sexual assault charges.
Illuzzi-Orbon decided to re-present the case after Justice James Burke ruled in the defense’s favor and barred Sciorra from testifying.
The judge said that adding Sciorra as a complainant to the two predatory sex assault counts changed the theory of the case and “usurps the role of the grand jury.”
Illuzzi-Orbon also revealed in the filing that Burke had ruled during a sealed hearing that the prosecution could call additional victims to testify about Weinstein’s uncharged crimes similar to what occurred in the Bill Cosby trial.
Weinstein’s attorneys Donna Rotunno and Arthur Aidala said the trial could be delayed by months as they are entitled to a 45-day period to file motions after a new indictment is handed down.
The lawyers blasted prosecutors for claiming they didn’t put her in front of a grand jury earlier because she hadn’t come forward yet.
“This complainant accused the defendant in a public forum, the New Yorker magazine, in a lengthy expose on October 27, 2017, and her accusations have been widely circulated since that time,” wrote the attorneys. The indictment against Weinstein was handed down eight months later.
Defense lawyer Mark Bederow, who’s not part of the case, said the new wrinkle didn’t bode well for the prosecution. “Seeking to re-present the case to a new grand jury at the eleventh hour to add the testimony of a ‘new’ witness whose claims have been public for almost two years is an ominous sign for the strength of the prosecution’s case,” he said.