‘Doesn’t smell good:’ 2 lawyers in Rose McGowan’s Va. case now defend Harvey Weinstein

LEESBURG, Va. — The special prosecutor who recently orchestrated Rose McGowan’s plea deal to a reduced drug charge in Loudoun County, Virginia doesn’t mince words, upon hearing two members of McGowan’s defense team are now representing Harvey Weinstein.

“It doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t smell good,” special prosecutor Paul Ebert told WTOP. “It may be unethical.” Ebert, the Commonwealth Attorney for Prince William County, tried the case after Loudoun prosecutor Jim Plowman recused himself.

Before pleading no contest, being found guilty and paying a $2500 fine for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance on Jan. 15, McGowan and her attorneys suggested that someone working for Weinstein had planted two bags of cocaine in her wallet, after she got off a United Airlines flight at Dulles International Airport, in Jan. 2017.

Now, two high-profile members of McGowan’s legal team in Virginia are now representing Weinstein.

“I can confirm that I, along with Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan have been retained by Harvey Weinstein,” said Jose Baez, who represented Casey Anthony, the woman acquitted in 2011 of murdering her two-year-old daughter.

Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting two women in New York City. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

Baez and Sullivan won an acquittal in one murder trial for football star Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was later convicted of the murder of Odin Lloyd, and died by suicide in prison in 2017.

Now, in defending the man McGowan had publicly accused of sexually assaulting her, Baez said: “Mr. Weinstein steadfastly maintains his innocence in this matter and we are looking forward to assisting Mr. Weinstein in his defense.”

McGowan ripped her former lawyers in an interview with The Daily Beast.

“This is a major conflict of interest but I knew there was shadiness going on behind the scenes,” said McGowan. “This is why my case didn’t go to trial — my instinct was my lawyers had been bought off,” she added, without elaborating.

“I asked Jose Baez directly if he would ever work with Harvey and I told him it was my fear that he would be bought off while representing me,” McGowan said. “He responded by saying, ‘I don’t like to lose.'”

While Baez and Sullivan had entered appearances in McGowan’s Loudoun County case, neither had filed any substantive motions, or been in contact with special prosecutor Ebert.

Ebert and assistant prosecutor Rebecca Thacher tried McGowan after Loudoun County prosecutor Jim Plowman recused himself.

Baez and Sullivan dispute McGowan’s accusation of foul play.

“We were pleased to represent our former client, Ms. Rose McGowan, in a matter unrelated to Mr. Weinstein’s current charges. After consultation with ethics counsel, we are certain no conflict of interest exists. We wish Ms. McGowan well with all her future endeavors.”

McGowan and Virginia attorney Jim Hundley — the only attorney with McGowan when she entered her plea — did not immediately return requests for comment from WTOP.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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