UPDATED with comment from Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer and video:
Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was arraigned today on felony sex crime charges in New York Criminal Court, where the judge set bail at $1 million cash. However, the Oscar winning producer’s lawyer says he plans to appeal to get the case tossed out.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said Weinstein has been charged with two counts of rape — one involving force — as well as criminal sexual act in the first degree, for alleged assaults against two women that occurred in 2013 and 2004. (You can read the charging document here).
“Today’s charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation,” Vance said in a statement. “I thank the brave survivors who have come forward, and my Office’s prosecutors who have worked tirelessly on this investigation.”
Court documents charge that one woman, believed to be Lucia Evans, an aspiring actress who was forced to perform oral sex on Weinstein during a meeting at the company’s Greenwich Street offices in 2004. A second person was raped at a Lexington Avenue hotel on March 18, 2013, the district attorney charges.
Some 80 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of a range of sexual misconduct, from harassment to assault. Vance has been under enormous public pressure to bring criminal charges against the once-powerful producer, after it was revealed that he declined to press charges after Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez participated in a sting operation that obtained an incriminating recording.
“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” Manhattan Assistant Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said in court, according to published reports. Weinstein raised his eyebrows as he heard it.
Genie Harrison, the attorney representing former Weinstein assistant Sandeep Rehal in her sexual harassment lawsuit, applauded the development, which she said is long overdue.
“Harvey Weinstein should have been arrested and prosecuted a long time ago for his prolific criminal sexual acts. Had he been held accountable years ago, there would be fewer victims of his sex crimes,” Harrison said. “His #TimesUp because so many fierce women have said #MeToo. We anxiously await the video of his surrender and will relish, and perhaps even frame, his mug shot.”
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, met with reporters on the court steps following the arraignment. He said his client entered a plea of not guilty, and will attempt to have the charges dismissed. Later the attorney characterized “the charges as being legally flawed and not supported by credible evidence.”
In front of the courthouse, Brafman said Weinstein maintains that any sexual acts were consensual, and “vigorously denied” that the women did anything against their will.
“Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” Brafman said. “To the extent there is bad behavior in Hollywood, that is not what this case is about.”
The attorney said Weinstein’s accusers, once subjected to cross-examination, “will not be believed” by a jury of 12 — “assuming we get 12 people who are not consumed by the moment.” That’s a reference to #MeToo movement that sprang from initial reporting of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Weinstein surrendered his passport and paid the $1 million cash bail, Brafman said. Weinstein also agreed to around-the-clock electronic monitoring and a ban on travel beyond New York and Connecticut. He’s scheduled to appear in court on July 30.
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