Harvey Weinstein is charged with rape and sex abuse in cases involving 2 women

Harvey Weinstein was arraigned Friday on charges of first- and third-degree rape and committing a criminal sexual act...

Posted: May 26, 2018 11:31 AM
Updated: May 26, 2018 11:31 AM

Harvey Weinstein was arraigned Friday on charges of first- and third-degree rape and committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree, seven months after women began to come forward with stories alleging sexual misconduct by the famed Hollywood producer.

The charges filed Friday stem from incidents with two separate women in 2013 and 2004, the Manhattan district attorney said in a statement, and were the result of a joint investigation between police and the Manhattan DA's office.

"Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sexual behavior with anyone. Nothing about today's proceedings changes Mr. Weinstein's position. He has entered a plea of not guilty and fully expects to be exonerated," attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a statement after the arraignment.

As part of the agreement between Brafman and the DA's office, Weinstein's bond was set at $10 million. The 66-year-old is required to wear a GPS monitoring system and is only allowed to travel within New York state or Connecticut. He also surrendered his passport.

The judge also granted a temporary order of protection on behalf of an unnamed victim in the case.

A source familiar with the investigation told CNN the criminal sex act charge was from a case involving aspiring actress Lucia Evans, who alleges Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in his Tribeca office in 2004. Evans has not responded to any of CNN's requests for comment since first speaking out about Weinstein in the New Yorker last fall.

The alleged victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified, the source said.

More charges are expected as a grand jury continues to hear testimony in the state's case with at least four women expected to testify, the source said.

In a statement, Evans' attorney, Carrie Goldberg, said Weinstein's arrest was "an emotional moment."

"Harvey Weinstein's arrest came to pass as a result of our client's bravery in coming forward and the tenacity of law enforcement," Goldberg said.

"The arrest and future trial of Harvey Weinstein is but one victory in the war against sexual violence," she added.

"That war is far from over. Believe victims."

"We intend to move very quickly to dismiss these charges," Brafman told reporters outside the courthouse. "We believe that they are constitutionally flawed. We believe that they are not factually supported by the evidence, and we believe that at the end of the process Mr. Weinstein will be exonerated."

Weinstein leaves precinct handcuffed

Carrying a stack of books, the former Hollywood producer walked into a New York police precinct office through a gauntlet of reporters and photographers earlier Friday to the snapping of camera shutters.

It was a scene not unlike the red carpet walks he used to do, further highlighting how far he has fallen since dozens of women came forward in the New York Times and the New Yorker to publicly accuse him of sexual misconduct.

After being processed, Weinstein left the precinct office, his hands cuffed behind his back, and got into a large black SUV.

Other investigations under way

Weinstein is also under investigation for alleged sex crimes in Los Angeles and London. Federal prosecutors in New York have started a sex crimes investigation involving him, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The charges follow a flood of accusations against Weinstein that led women around the world to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed by powerful men. His accusers welcomed the news as a sign that the tables were finally turning -- not only on him but on other accused predators.

"I, and so many of Harvey Weinstein's survivors, had given up hope that our rapist would be held accountable by law. Twenty years ago, I swore that I would right this wrong. Today we are one step closer to justice," actress Rose McGowan, one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of assault, said Thursday.

"We were young women who were assaulted by Weinstein and later terrorized by his vast network of complicity. I stand with my fellow survivors. May this give hope to all victims and survivors everywhere that are telling their truths," she said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dozens of accusations

Weinstein has been accused of rape, assault and other forms of sexual misconduct. Weinstein's representative has said he sought treatment after the accusations, and Brafman repeated in his statement Friday that his client has said he "never engaged in non-consensual sexual behavior with anyone."

Dozens of women have come forward publicly to accuse Weinstein of misconduct after reports in 2017 about his treatment of women, including actresses with whom he worked.

Two of those women, Asia Argento and Ashley Judd, tweeted an article Thursday about Weinstein turning himself in. Paz de la Huerta, another Weinstein accuser, declined to comment on the news.

"After decades of abusing women with impunity, finally, the beginning of the end of Harvey Weinstein's reign of terror," Argento said in a statement to CNN. "I wish I could say this brings me peace. Unfortunately, the damage he has done to women can never be undone. He belongs in prison."

The women said Weinstein threatened to ruin their careers if they went public with their accounts. On Thursday, New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor recounted in a tweet some of his threats and declared "not anymore."

Ronan Farrow, who wrote the New Yorker's report on Weinstein, told CNN Friday that many of the producer's accusers believed they'd never see justice.

"Not in a million years, and one of the hardest conversations I had over and over again with these brave women was that in addition to the sacrifice they were making in telling this story, they didn't think they would ever be heard if they did take that leap, let alone to see actual accountability," Farrow said.

Weinstein has kept a low profile since his downfall. He was fired from the company that bears his name just days after the allegations first surfaced in the media. The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and what remains of it is set to be sold. His wife, Georgina Chapman, left him in October.

Movement gains steam

The allegations catalyzed the decades-old #MeToo movement that calls attention to sexual misconduct. The heightened scrutiny has rippled across industries and ensnared numerous powerful men, from journalists Matt Lauer and Mark Halperin to chefs Mario Batali and John Besh.

On Thursday, CNN reported that several women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior and harassment.

#MeToo also sparked conversations about everyday workplace harassment.

Tarana Burke, who started #MeToo, said Weinstein's intention to turn himself in marked a turning point in the conversation.

"This moves from the court of public of opinion into an actual courtroom," Burke told Variety.

"That is super cathartic for a bunch of the survivors, or even survivors who are not necessarily victimized by him."

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