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France 24 featured Pace University's Haub law professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein expert questions memory as testimony nears end"

02/10/2020

France 24 featured Pace University's Haub law professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein expert questions memory as testimony nears end"

"It was much more clear-cut in the Bill Cosby case. He drugged the victim," said Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, referring to the US comedian convicted of sexual assault in 2018.

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"France 24" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Fresh Sexual Assault Allegations Could Delay Harvey Weinstein's Trial"

08/26/2019

"France 24" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Fresh Sexual Assault Allegations Could Delay Harvey Weinstein's Trial"

New York prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had filed a new indictment against the 67-year-old former producer. The original accusations against him were a catalyst for America's #MeToo movement.

The document is expected to be made public in a state court on Monday, two weeks before jury selection for his trial is scheduled to start on September 9.

According to US media the new indictment will include testimony from actress Annabella Sciorra, known for her star turn in the hit television series "The Sopranos."

Sciorra helped trigger the #MeToo movement in October 2017 when she told The New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at her home in Manhattan in 1993.

Weinstein has always insisted his sexual relationships were consensual and is again expected to enter a not guilty plea on Monday.

Once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Weinstein has been accused of harassment and assault by more than 80 women, including stars such as Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd.

But the "Pulp Fiction" producer only faces charges involving two women -- one who alleges he raped her in 2013, the other who claims he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

Sciorra reportedly approached prosecutors too late for her allegations to be included in the original indictment, The New York Times reported, citing a letter written by the prosecutor in charge of the case.

The judge denied a prosecution request that Sciorra be allowed to give evidence at Weinstein's trial because she had not testified before a grand jury as is procedure under US law.

Prosecutors hope the new indictment will allow her to testify. The number of accusers appearing in court can influence the verdict, as seen in the 2018 conviction of Bill Cosby.

Weinstein's lawyers have denounced the new indictment as a "desperate" last-minute move and are expected to ask for the indictment to be dismissed.

Bennett Gershman, a law professor at Pace University and a former prosecutor, said the judge will likely reject their request.

They will at most be given "more time to prepare the trial," he told AFP, meaning a delay to the start of the trial.

Weinstein's attorneys have also asked for the trial to be moved, arguing that intense coverage in New York's tabloids has meant he won't get a fair trial.

A decision will also likely come Monday but the request is expected to be rejected. (AFP)

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"France 24" featured Seidenberg's computer science professor Darren Hayes in "'Amateur' Capital One hack stuns security community"

07/31/2019

"France 24" featured Seidenberg's computer science professor Darren Hayes in "'Amateur' Capital One hack stuns security community"

The massive data breach at Capital One appeared to be an unsophisticated attack from a single hacker, raising questions about the security of the financial system and insider threats to cloud computing.

The motive behind the breach and extent of its impact remained unclear Tuesday, a day after FBI agents arrested 33-year-old former web engineer Paige Thompson and charged her with stealing data from more than 100 million credit card applications from the 10th largest US bank.

"The biggest surprise is the amateur nature of the attack," said John Dickson of the security consultancy Denim Group.

Dickson said it was "absolutely earth-shattering" that an individual attacker could gain access to that much data at one of the largest US financial institutions.

"This could have a major impact on confidence in the banking system."

The Capital One hack appears to be different from major breaches at the credit monitoring firm Equifax, internet giant Yahoo and other major incidents which have been attributed to sophisticated nation-state entities.

US authorities said Thompson, a former Amazon Web Services employee, was arrested on the basis of a tip after she boasted of accessing the data on the software sharing site GitHub as well as on Twitter and Slack.

Darren Hayes, a Pace University computer science professor specializing in cybersecurity, said the ability to quickly arrest and prosecute an attacker in this kind of case is unusual.

"Most of these cases are perpetrated by hackers in other countries," he said.

- 'Good people gone bad' -

Hayes said the incident highlights the risk of "insider" attacks when trusted employees turn to theft.

"It is challenging to catch good people gone bad, so a lot of banks look for that now" with artificial intelligence tools to detect anomalies in employee behavior, Hayes said.

Capital One said the incident affected some 100 million US customers and six million Canada, with as many as 140,000 US and one million Canadian social security numbers compromised.

Only some of the data was encrypted, but Capital One said it had no indication any of the data was transferred or sold where it could be damaging for customers.

Still, Hayes said he sees a risk of data loss that could end up compromising bank customers.

"My sense is that we are going to see a lot of class-action lawsuits and the company could be liable for a lot of damages," he said.

News of the Capital One breach comes after US credit monitoring agency Equifax last week agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle a similar incident that hit the company in 2017, affecting nearly 150 million customers.

New York State attorney general Letitia James said her office was opening up its own investigation.

"My office will begin an immediate investigation into Capital One's breach, and will work to ensure that New Yorkers who were victims of this breach are provided relief," James said.

- 'Easier target' -

Dylan Gilbert of the consumer group Public Knowledge said the news raises questions about security procedures by the large bank.

"Why didn't Capital One fully encrypt this data, and why didn't the company place this vast trove of personal information behind a properly configured firewall?" Gilbert said.

"Security is challenging and mistakes happen, but unfortunately for consumers, companies have no incentive to engage in cybersecurity best practices when punishment comes in the form of financial penalties that can be factored in as a mere cost of doing business."

Joseph Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said the incident highlights the risk of depending too much on cloud computing, which stores vast amounts of data in servers.

"The fact that there is so much more data in the cloud makes it an easier target," Hall said.

"If cloud services are misconfigured it's relatively easy for someone walking by to take advantage of that."

Thompson's online resume indicates she left Amazon in 2016, and there was no indication the AWS cloud itself was to blame for the breach.

"AWS was not compromised in any way and functioned as designed," Amazon said in a statement.

"The perpetrator gained access through a misconfiguration of the web application and not the underlying cloud-based infrastructure. As Capital One explained clearly in its disclosure, this type of vulnerability is not specific to the cloud."

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"FRANCE 24" featured Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein accusers poised to see first compensation as trial looms"

06/03/2019

"FRANCE 24" featured Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein accusers poised to see first compensation as trial looms"

...For Bennett Gershman, a former prosecutor and professor of law at Pace University, the apparent deal is "a victory for the women who claimed abuse."

But it's likely also good news for Weinstein and especially his company, which no longer has any ties to him and can henceforth "put this major lawsuit behind them... they can move on."

- Symbolic effect on criminal trial? -

As for the criminal trial, due to begin on September 9 in New York, Gershman said the civil settlement would have little effect.

Weinstein has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women -- a rape and an incident of forced oral sex. He faces life in prison if convicted.

The civil settlement -- which could largely remain sealed -- is unlikely to include any admission of guilt by Weinstein or his business associates, as such statements could be used in court, Gershman said.

So any impact would be mainly "symbolic in the sense that they have agreed to pay a lot of money... which seems to imply that they did something wrong," the professor noted.

That could potentially sway jurors called to rule on Weinstein's guilt.

But the settlement is not all rosy for prosecutors, explains Julie Rendelman, another New York attorney.

If any of the women involved in the settlement are called to testify, Weinstein's defense team could seek to discredit them as solely in it for the money.

For now, prosecutors have not revealed who they plan to add to the witness list for the trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks.

Last month, at a hearing held behind closed doors, lawyers from both sides discussed the list of potential prosecution witnesses with the judge.

The judge hinted that a ruling may not come until the start of the trial.

Testimony from five accusers was allowed at the retrial of disgraced comedian Bill Cosby on sex assault charges. Like Weinstein, he had dozens of accusers, but faced criminal charges in only one case.

Cosby was sentenced last year to at least three years in prison.

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"FRANCE 24" featured Pace Haub Law School professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein back in court seeking dismissal of sex assault case"

12/21/2018

"FRANCE 24" featured Pace Haub Law School professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein back in court seeking dismissal of sex assault case"

...For Bennett Gershman, a former prosecutor who teaches law at Pace University, prosecutors threw out the charge related to Evans precisely to avoid contaminating the rest of the case.

"I know Brafman is going to argue to dismiss the whole indictment. He is going to lose that without any doubt," Gershman said

He added that he still believes prosecutors have a solid case with the two remaining accusers, no matter what they said to Weinstein after the alleged assaults.

"These women saying nice things to Weinstein -- would that surprise anybody? You have a hugely powerful man (...) who literally controlled their reputation and their careers," Gershman said.

If the case is not thrown out, Brafman will likely argue for all other Weinstein accusers to be barred from testifying.

In the case against veteran television star Bill Cosby, the depositions of five women who did not bring complaints against him were admitted into evidence for his second trial. 

Cosby was convicted and sentenced to at least three years in prison in the first court win for the #MeToo movement.

If the judge decides to allow the case to continue, he could set a trial date on Thursday.

If that happens, Gershman says the jury will have to decide: "Did they consent or did they consent involuntarily?"

"If these women testify strongly on the witness stand, Weinstein will lose," he predicted.

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