Harvey Weinstein charged with felony rape, criminal sex act in NYC court

By Sara Shayanian  |  Updated May 25, 2018 at 12:42 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
1 of 4
| License Photo

May 25 (UPI) -- Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was charged Friday with counts of felony rape and committing a criminal sex act, stemming from cases involving two women, prosecutors said.

Weinstein, 66, surrendered Friday at the New York City Police Department's 1st Precinct in Lower Manhattan.

He appeared in court later and was charged with assaulting Lucia Evans, who told investigators he forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004. The NYPD is also looking into an accusation by another woman who said he assaulted her in her apartment eight years ago.

Weinstein is charged with first- and third-degree rape and criminal sexual act in the first degree for forcible sexual acts, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.

First-degree rape and criminal sex act are class B felonies, while third-degree rape is a class E felony. The most serious rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

"Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual behavior with anyone. Nothing about today's proceedings changes Mr. Weinstein's position," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said.

Weinstein entered a not guilty plea and "expects to be fully exonerated," Brafman added. The film producer has until next week to decide whether to tesitfy before a grand jury.

The film mogul posted $1 million cash bail and was released pending his next court appearance. He must wear an ankle bracelet and can only travel within the New York or Connecticut.

The former film producer wore a dark suit and was surrounded by attorneys when he arrived at the police station Friday morning before a crowd of onlookers.

Friday's are the first criminal charges against Weinstein in the scandal that began last fall. The case triggered the #MeToo social media movement and a flood of accusations against additional high-profile figures in entertainment and other industries.

Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein's most outspoken accusers, told The Hollywood Reporter Friday's arrest brings victims "one step closer to justice."

"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," McGowan said.

"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."

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, told Variety Weinstein's arrest is therapeutic.

"This moves from the court of public opinion into an actual courtroom," Burke said. "That is super cathartic for a bunch of the survivors, or even survivors who are not necessarily victimized by him.

"To see it actually happen, I think is a big deal. We might be looking at a shift in the way cases of sexual violence are actually dealt with."

Actress Ashley Judd filed a lawsuit against Weinstein this month for sexual harassment, defamation and violating California's unfair business competition law -- saying he tried to ruin her career because she refused sexual advances.

The Weinstein Company, which Weinstein co-founded, declared bankruptcy earlier this year after failing to negotiate a sale.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories