Sunday 19 January 2020

Weinstein could face life in jail if guilty of new sex charges

Harvey Weinstein is accused of assaulting a third woman
Harvey Weinstein is accused of assaulting a third woman

Rob Crilly

Harvey Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of new charges lodged by prosecutors in New York yesterday morning.

The fresh indictments include predatory sexual assault, which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and charges by a third woman in addition to two mentioned earlier.

Weinstein (66), once one of the film world's most important figures, had already pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and a criminal sexual act, carrying sentences of up to 25 years.

Cyrus Vance, Manhattan district attorney, called for any other alleged victims to come forward.

"A Manhattan grand jury has now indicted Harvey Weinstein on some of the most serious sexual offences that exist under New York's penal law," he said.

"This indictment is the result of the extraordinary courage exhibited by the survivors who have come forward."

Predatory sexual assault is often used by prosecutors who believe they can establish a pattern of behaviour and attracts a minimum of 10 years in prison.

The updated indictment also alleges that he "engaged in oral sex by forcible compulsion" around July 10, 2006. It is understood that the alleged victim gave her evidence to a grand jury on Friday.

It brings the total number of charges to six. A representative for Weinstein had no immediate comment.

One of the alleged victims in the existing criminal case, who has not been identified publicly, told investigators that Weinstein cornered her in a hotel room and raped her. The other accuser, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004.

Weinstein has been free on a $1m (€860,000) bail after surrendering to police in May.

The New York cases are the first to be tested in court since scores of women came forward with complaints. In all, more than 70 women have accused the Miramax film studio's co-founder of sexual misconduct, including rape, since the first allegations surfaced in October.

The incidents date back decades and sparked the #MeToo movement as hundreds more women publicly accused powerful men of sexual harassment and abuse.

The Weinstein Company's board fired him, the company filed for bankruptcy in March, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him.

In years past, the academy showered him with Oscars for a string of films that helped define independent cinema in the 1990s, including 'Shakespeare in Love' and 'Pulp Fiction'.

Weinstein, long a fixture of the New York and Hollywood celebrity scenes, initially went to Arizona for sex addiction therapy. However, he is now required to wear an ankle monitor and remain in New York state or Connecticut as he awaits a trial date.

The Metropolitan Police in London and prosecutors in Los Angeles have also said they are investigating allegations against Weinstein. He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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