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Defiant Harvey Weinstein denies rape charges

Los Angeles Times
May 25. 2018 7:21PM
Film producer Harvey Weinstein signs papers inside Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment in Manhattan in New York, U.S., May 25, 2018. (Jefferson Siegel /Pool via REUTERS)

NEW YORK — In a milestone for the #MeToo movement, disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to New York authorities Friday morning, and prosecutors filed criminal charges against him, including rape.

Weinstein was charged with rape in the first degree, rape in the third degree and committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree for alleged forcible sexual acts against two women in 2013 and 2004, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. Authorities have withheld the alleged victim’s names, although one is believed to be a woman who went public with allegations against Weinstein in a magazine article last year.

On Friday morning, Weinstein was led into a courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. He did not speak during the brief appearance.

The judge set his bail at $10 million and restricted his movements to New York and Connecticut. Weinstein consented to 24-hour-a-day GPS monitoring and a temporary restraining order requested by one alleged victim.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said in court that Weinstein “used his position and power” to sexually exploit his victims. She said he was being prosecuted for “two separate forcible sexual assaults against two separate women.”

Speaking to reporters after the court appearance, Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Braffman, said the former producer will enter a plea of not guilty and continues to “vehemently deny” any criminal acts. Weinstein, he said, maintains that any sexual acts with the women were consensual and that the charges are “constitutionally flawed.”

Braffman said that if the women are cross-examined before a jury, “the charges will not be believed by 12 people, assuming we will get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case.”

“Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” Braffman said. “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. It’s only if you intentionally committed a criminal act, and Mr. Weinstein vigorously denies that.”

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