By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – A Delaware judge set a January trial for Harvey Weinstein’s effort to get the film production company he co-founded to turn over emails and other documents that he says will exonerate him from accusations of sexual harassment.
Delaware Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights said at a Thursday hearing via telephone that allowing the dispute to linger was “in no one’s interest.”
A number of women have claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades.
Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.
New York’s attorney general has opened an investigation into sexual harassment and possible violations of civil rights laws at Weinstein Co, which fired Weinstein as chief executive last month, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.
Last week, Weinstein sued Weinstein Co to obtain information he says would help him defend himself against any sexual harassment allegations.
Weinstein also needs the information for a wrongful termination case against the company, which is in confidential arbitration, and for defending himself in investigations by the company and the New York attorney general, according to court documents.
On Wednesday, Weinstein’s lawyer told Slights that the company wanted to interview Weinstein as part of its investigation, yet denied him access to his own emails that could help him prepare.
“That’s not an investigation. That’s punishment,” said Peter Ladig, Weinstein’s attorney with the Morris James law firm.
The judge asked the parties to try to agree on an exact date to start the trial, which will determine if Weinstein has a proper purpose to demand the information and what documents Weinstein Co must provide.
Weinstein had initially requested a trial next week, but at Thursday’s hearing argued for a date by the end of December. Weinstein Co said it would prefer up to four months to prepare.
Weinstein Co has been one of the most influential forces in the film business since Harvey Weinstein launched it with his brother Bob in October 2005. It has produced and distributed films including “The King’s Speech” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Rigby)