Tuesday 23 October 2018

Weinstein charged with rape and sex assault

Harvey Weinstein is led out of the NYPD's First Precinct in handcuffs after his arrest on charges of rape, committing a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein is led out of the NYPD's First Precinct in handcuffs after his arrest on charges of rape, committing a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Jennifer Peltz

Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape and criminal sex acts, furthering the first prosecution to arise from a slate of sexual misconduct allegations against the former movie mogul.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr said the indictment brings Mr Weinstein "another step closer to accountability" for alleged attacks on two women in New York.

Mr Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he would "vigorously defend" the indictment and ask a court to dismiss it. He called the allegations "unsupported" and reiterated that Weinstein strongly denies them.

The indictment came hours after Mr Weinstein's lawyer said the film producer would decline to testify before a grand jury because there wasn't enough time to prepare him and "political pressure" made an indictment unavoidable.

"Regardless of how compelling Mr Weinstein's personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr Weinstein," the statement said.

Mr Weinstein (66) learned of the specific charges and the accusers' identities only after turning himself in last Friday, according to his lawyers.

Mr Vance said the Weinstein camp's "recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process" was predictable.

"We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand," Mr Vance said in a statement.

Mr Weinstein is charged with raping one woman and committing a criminal sex act by compelling oral sex from another. Freed on $1m (¤857,000) bail and electronic monitoring, he is due back in court on July 30, though it may be earlier.

Beyond the two women involved in the case, dozens more women have accused Mr Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault in various locales.

He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, and Mr Brafman said his client was confident he would clear his name.

Mr Brafman called the rape allegation "absurd," saying that the accuser and Mr Weinstein had a decade-long, consensual sexual relationship before and after the alleged 2013 attack.

The woman, who hasn't been identified publicly, told investigators that Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.

The other accuser in the case, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004.

Mr Vance came under public pressure from women's groups to prosecute Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say Mr Weinstein had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Mr Weinstein and him apologising for his conduct. But Mr Vance decided there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges.

Irish Independent

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