NEW YORK • Given the possibility of a life sentence and Harvey Weinstein's wealth, might he be tempted to try to flee from the United States?
The prosecutors are worried, but a judge on Monday denied a request from them to place the disgraced Hollywood mogul under house arrest, even if the new charges against him carry a penalty of life in prison if he is convicted.
Brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, Weinstein, 66, was released on bail after pleading not guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2006.
Three women have now accused him of forcing them to have sex against their will over the last 14 years.
The new indictment includes two counts of predatory sexual assault, opening him up to a life sentence.
Ms Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor, said Weinstein had sold a house in Connecticut, where he has been living, without telling the prosecutors. Given the flight risk, she urged Justice James Burke to order him to be held under house arrest in New York City.
But Weinstein's lawyer, Mr Benjamin Brafman, argued that Weinstein already could have been sentenced to 25 years under a rape charge in the previous indictment, which, for a 66-year-old, is tantamount to a life sentence.
After hearing both arguments, the judge announced he would keep the bail the same.
Weinstein had already put up US$1 million (S$1.35 million) in cash, surrendered his passport and agreed to wear a tracking device on his ankle.
The request to place him under house arrest marked the latest in a series of moves by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr to step up pressure on him.
Mr Vance Jr had said a grand jury was continuing to interview witnesses not only about sex crimes, but also about possible financial crimes involving the misuse of funds at The Weinstein Co. The company is in the midst of a bankruptcy sale.
Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women, among them well-known actresses like Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra.
In Manhattan, he is accused of three sexual attacks.
The indictment said he forced an aspiring actress to give him oral sex in his Tribeca offices in 2004, raped another woman at a Midtown hotel in 2013 and compelled a third woman to let him give her oral sex in his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Mr Brafman said he had assembled "extraordinary documentation" supporting Weinstein's claims that the women were willing participants.
He added that one of the accusers had a long romantic relationship with Weinstein that continued after the alleged attack.
"We have every reason to believe he will ultimately be exonerated," Mr Brafman told the judge.
But other lawyers noted that each additional accuser in the indictment made it more challenging for Mr Brafman to prevail at trial, as it was difficult to dismiss all the accusers as not credible.
But away from the court, there is no dispute that Weinstein remains a workaholic.
Mr Brafman said his client was spending time developing scripts.
Weinstein is even working as a paralegal though Mr Brafman did not elaborate on whether he was being paid for the work or whether he was working on legal cases besides his own.
NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST