July 11 (UPI) — Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein switched his legal team during an appearance Thursday in a Manhattan courtroom regarding his sexual assault case.
His previous lawyers, Jose Baez and Ronald Sullivan, removed themselves from the case citing “fundamental disagreements” with their client. Attorneys Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis are replacing Baez and Sullivan.
“Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements,” Baez wrote in a letter to the court.
Weinstein pleaded not guilty in June 2018 to five counts of rape in the first and third degrees, and sexual assault in the first degree in a case involving two accusers. The charges stem from an incident in 2004 in which Lucia Evans said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex. Another unnamed woman accused Weinstein of rape in 2013.
First-degree rape and criminal sex act are class B felonies, while third-degree rape is a class E felony. The most serious rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
He hired Baez and Sullivan in January to represent him in the case, replacing his first legal team. The switch delayed the start of his trial until Sept. 9.