Harvey Weinstein appears in court charged with rape
Film producer taken to court in handcuffs after handing himself in to New York police
The disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape, a criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for alleged incidents involving two separate women, after he had earlier surrendered to authorities in New York.
During a brief court appearance on Friday, Weinstein remained quiet as his lawyers agreed he would post $1 million (€860,000) bail and wear an electronic monitoring device. He also surrendered his passport, and agreed not to travel beyond New York and Connecticut.
A prosecutor told the judge that the investigation was ongoing, and that authorities had encouraged other survivors to come forward. “The defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” she said.
Speaking outside court, Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said his client intended to plead not guilty. He called the charges “constitutionally flawed” and “not factually supported”.
It is the first criminal case to be brought against Weinstein since the revelations about him erupted last October and sparked the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein (66) was led in handcuffs, with a detective on either side holding his arms, from the police station into a waiting car. A few minutes later he arrived at a criminal court in Manhattan, and was marched in by the detectives to be arraigned on the charges. He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Weinstein was stone-faced and sullen, and did not respond to questions from reporters.
A statement from the New York police department said: “The NYPD thanks these brave survivors for their courage to come forward and seek justice.”
Weinstein surrendered to police early on Friday at the NYPD first precinct in Tribeca in lower Manhattan, where the Weinstein Company has its headquarters and where many of the alleged offences are said to have taken place, either at the offices or a nearby hotel.
He stepped from a black SUV wearing a dark jacket over a light blue sweater and white open-necked shirt. He was carrying three books under his arm . He went into the police station before a crowd of news cameras. He did not respond to shouts of “Harvey!”
Two law enforcement officials told the Associated Press the case would include allegations by Lucia Evans, an aspiring actor who has said the Hollywood mogul forced her to perform oral sex on him in his office. She was among the first women to speak out about the producer.
One official said it was likely the case also would include at least one other victim who had not come forward publicly.
After Weinstein’s arrest, Rose McGowan, one of his most prominent accusers, told the UK’s BBC Radio 4: “It’s a concrete slap in the face of abuse of power. I hope we emerge victorious and, if anything, we have emerged victorious, no mater what, because people are listening now.”
Lucia Evans told the New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” she said.
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, had been under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case against Weinstein.
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks.
In March, Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, took the extraordinary step of ordering the state’s attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model. That investigation is in its preliminary stages.
More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing. Several actors and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, but many of the encounters happened too long ago for any prosecution. Rose McGowan said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, the Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in 1992 and the Norwegian actor Natassia Malthe said Weinstein attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.
The statute of limitations for rape and certain other sex crimes in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.
New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, the Boardwalk Empire star Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010. She is not one of the victims in the case on Friday; hers was still pending, officials said.
Authorities in California and London are also investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there date to the 1980s.
Two of the books Weinstein carried into the police station have been identified as Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution by Todd S Purdum, and Elia Kazan: A Biography by Richard Schickel.
Something Wonderful was published last month. Weinstein might see something of himself in the story of successful showmen impresarios credited with changing the cultural landscape.
There are also possible parallels in the story of Elia Kazan, the immigrant director of groundbreaking, multi-award-winning classics such as On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire. Originally a communist, Kazan was later scorned by much of liberal Hollywood for testifying before the House committee on un-American activities in 1952. When Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1999, dozens of audience members chose not to applaud and 250 demonstrators picketed the event.
Schickel’s 2005 biography also documents Kazan’s many affairs. Three times married, he had affairs with many female actors and leading ladies including Marilyn Monroe. Yet Kazan’s reputation as a formidable Hollywood artist weathered political and personal scandals. – Guardian