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More than seven months after sexual misconduct allegations involving Harvey Weinstein first surfaced publicly, the disgraced mogul has been charged with rape.
Appearing in court on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend (May 25), Weinstein was charged with first- and third-degree rape and a criminal sex act in the first degree, for forcible sexual acts against two women in 2013 and 2004, respectively.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance filed felony sex crimes charges against Weinstein, 66, after he turned himself into authorities at the first precinct police station in Tribeca early Friday morning. Weinstein was arrested by the New York City police department shortly thereafter and taken to court.
In court, when he was arraigned, bond was set at $10 million or $1 million cash. Weinstein was asked to relinquish his passport and has to wear a monitoring device that allows him to be tracked 24/7. He can only travel between New York and Connecticut unless he receives approval from the D.A.’s office and court to travel elsewhere.
Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison if he’s convicted of the charges against him.
“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. I would also like to thank Commissioner James O’Neill and our dedicated partners at the NYPD. We urge additional survivors and others with relevant information to call our sex crimes hotline at 212-335-9373.”
In an official statement, Weinstein’s attorney Ben Brafman said, “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.”
Brafman said in a press conference outside the courthouse that he and the disgraced mogul will move to quickly dismiss the charges. He said they have met all of the bail conditions. He said he expects the case will be resolved favorably toward Weinstein. Weinstein’s next court appearance is set for July 30. Brafman reiterated that Weinstein vehemently denies the allegations that he engaged in nonconsensual sexual activity.
“Many of these allegations are long overdue, having been made about events alleged to have happened many years ago,” Brafman said in part. “I anticipate the women who made these allegations when subjected to cross-examination, in the event that we even get that far, that the charges will not be believed. Assuming we get 12 fair people who have not been consumed by the movement that has overtaken this case.”
He later added, “Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood and to the extent that there is bad behavior in that industry, that is not what this is about. … Bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”
The criminal complaint follows a monthslong investigation conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the NYPD. The D.A.’s office is continuing to investigate allegations involving additional victims and other crimes.
It was the most dramatic twist to date in the downfall of the Oscar-winning producer, whose career began unraveling in the wake of twin exposés in the New York Times and The New Yorker that were published in October and chronicled a pattern of alleged harassment and sexual assault of both actresses and employees at Weinstein’s studios Miramax and its successor, The Weinstein Co.
In the weeks that followed the reports, the scandal mushroomed to include dozens of women spanning three continents. Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow were among the high-profile actresses who have come forward with claims against the producer.
Wearing a white button-down shirt and light-blue sweater under a black blazer and jeans and carrying two books (a biography of Oscar-winning director and Hollywood blacklist informant Elia Kazan and Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution, by Todd S. Purdum), Weinstein entered the first precinct police station at 7:30 a.m. E.T. in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, just blocks away from his longtime Weinstein Co. offices. He remained silent even though the reporters, photographers and TV news crews camped outside of the police department shouted questions at him, including “What took you so long?” He appeared rested and relaxed as he stepped out of the black SUV that transported him to the police station, getting more serious as he approached the precinct steps.
Smiling, Weinstein was escorted out of the police station roughly 90 minutes later. He was then walked into New York Criminal Court wearing handcuffs, continuing to avoid questions like “did you rape those women?” from the swarm of reporters outside the courthouse.
Harvey Weinstein walked into court handcuffed with his jeans sagging and avoided shouted questions. pic.twitter.com/5T2ev8dpBE
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) May 25, 2018
Weinstein has been facing the prospect of criminal charges on multiple fronts, including in New York, Los Angeles and London. Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a criminal probe into sex-abuse allegations against Weinstein. That investigation is said to be focusing on whether Weinstein lured women to cross state lines under false pretenses for the purpose of commiting sex crimes. He also faces numerous civil suits filed by women claiming abuse and harassment.
The woman Weinstein allegedly assaulted in 2004 is reportedly former aspiring actress Lucia Evans, who was one of three women, along with Asia Argento, who told The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow in October that Weinstein had raped them.The alleged incident took place at the former Miramax offices in Tribeca in 2004. Evans told investigators that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him despite her verbal protests.
In a new story today, about what led to Weinstein’s surrender, Farrow wrote that Evans confirmed she was pressing charges against the disgraced mogul.
“At a certain point, you have to think about the greater good of humanity, of womankind,” she told him.
Farrow also reports that detectives began meeting with Evans and gathering evidence the day after his initial exposé was published.
Argento and Rose McGowan were among the first of Weinstein’s accusers to react to his arrest, indicating in social media posts they felt it was finally time for him to face the music, with McGowan declaring she wants to attend his trial.
When asked about Weinstein, President Trump, who’s faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct, told the press, “I’m not familiar with the case. It’s really too bad.”
The arrest ends months of speculation over whether the producer behind such Oscar best picture winners as Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech would be held accountable for his alleged misdeeds. He previously evaded arrest in 2014 when he was investigated by the NYPD for groping then-22-year-old Italian model Ambra Battilana. Vance decided not to pursue charges at that time, a move that has been widely criticized in the aftermath of the cascade of accusations leveled at Weinstein in late 2017. The move also angered factions of the NYPD, which had wired Battilana at the time and made a recording of an encounter between her and Weinstein in which he is heard admitting to assaulting her. That case may have proved to be the crack in armor of Weinstein, who had buffered himself with a series of legal settlements followed by non-disclosure agreements. The audio eventually made its way to then-NBC correspondent Farrow, whose reporting never saw the light at the network but was eventually used for his work in The New Yorker.
The NYPD’s Special Victims Division and Vance’s office have been conducting investigations of Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults. Through his lawyer, Ben Brafman, he has denied any non-consensual sex.
On the professional front, Weinstein already has been toppled from his Hollywood perch. In the days following the New York Times and New Yorker articles, the Weinstein Co. board ousted Weinstein. He also has been booted from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild.
Watch video of Weinstein turning himself in the player above.
Jackie Strause contributed to this report.
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