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Harvey Weinstein rebuked by judge for using phone in court

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Media captionUsing a walking frame, Harvey Weinstein arrives for his trial on sexual assault charges

A judge has angrily threatened to lock up Harvey Weinstein for using his phone in a New York City court where a jury is being picked for his rape trial.

“Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting and violating a court order?” asked Judge James Burke.

The Manhattan judge instructed the former Hollywood producer, who is out on bail, not to answer the question.

Mr Weinstein faces five charges and possibly life in jail if convicted.

The allegations include rape and predatory sexual assault relating to two unnamed accusers. He is charged with raping one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, and performing a forcible sex act on the second woman in 2006.

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Media captionWeinstein accusers take questions outside court in New York

On Monday, Mr Weinstein was charged with an additional two counts in Los Angeles: rape and sexual assault.

The 67-year-old has denied all charges and insists any sexual encounters were consensual.

Mr Weinstein was caught using two mobile phones on Tuesday, according to local media. He had already been admonished by Judge Burke at previous court appearances for using a handset.

“What did I say would happen if he so much has a cellphone or electronic device since there have been repeated violations of this, including some on the record?” Judge Burke said.

“I believe you said remand,” Mr Weinstein’s lawyer replied after a heated exchange, meaning to put his client in jail.

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Media caption“Why I broke my silence over Weinstein” – an accuser talks about the criminal trial

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi urged Judge Burke to jail Mr Weinstein, who is out on $5m (£3.8m) bail. He is required to wear an electronic tracking device.

“There is a grave risk that this defendant at some point will realise that the evidence against him is imposing and overwhelming” and he will try to escape, Ms Illuzzi said.

Judge Burke ultimately declined to revoke Mr Weinstein’s bail, but told the former movie mogul he would not get any further warning.

“I’m not looking for apologies,” Judge Burke said, “I’m looking for compliance.”

In court, Mr Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, asked Judge Burke to delay jury selection, arguing that the jury pool had been tarnished by the extensive press coverage of the Los Angeles charges filed on Monday.

“For a prosecutor, this is Christmas morning,” Mr Aidala said, holding a stack of Monday’s newspapers. “What better present than the morning of jury selection to have him smeared everywhere?”

Judge Burke rejected the defence request.

After jury selection, Mr Weinstein’s New York trial is expected to begin in around two weeks.

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