Saturday 25 May 2019

Weinstein pleads not guilty to new sex claims

Harvey Weinstein appears court in New York yesterday. Photo: Jefferson Siegel/Reuters
Harvey Weinstein appears court in New York yesterday. Photo: Jefferson Siegel/Reuters

Tea Kvetenadze

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a woman in 2006, the third criminal sex assault case brought against him.

His lawyer said he expects further charges to follow.

More than 70 women, mostly young actresses and other women employed in the movie business, have accused the 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio of sexual misconduct, including rape, in a series of incidents dating back decades.

The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women publicly accused powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

New York state Supreme Court Justice James Burke rejected prosecutors' request to order house arrest for Weinstein, allowing him to remain free on the $1m (€850,000) bail that has been in effect since he pleaded not guilty in June to charges he assaulted two other women, one in 2004 and one in 2013.

Weinstein has repeatedly denied having any non-consensual sexual encounters.

"Mr Weinstein is not a predator, he is not a rapist and I believe when this case is over we will ultimately see him to be exonerated," defence attorney Benjamin Brafman said after yesterday's hearing.

Mr Brafman said prosecutors may file additional charges against Weinstein.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told the judge the sheer number of Weinstein accusers "shows the breadth of the criminality".

Her prosecution team contend Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on the woman in 2006.

The latest charges include two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carry a maximum life sentence, and one count of a criminal sexual act.

Earlier charges included two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act. Weinstein was charged after a months-long investigation by New York Police Department. His accusers have not been named.

Details from the 2004 case align with an account Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress, gave the 'New Yorker' magazine in 2017.

After Weinstein was accused, his eponymous company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Through his company and Miramax, Weinstein won plaudits and awards for movies including 'Shakespeare in Love', 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Sex, Lies and Videotape,' 'The Crying Game' and 'The King's Speech'.

London police and Los Angeles prosecutors have also been reviewing sexual assault accusations against Weinstein.

Irish Independent

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