Movie producer Weinstein charged with rape, sex abuse

by Reuters
Friday, 25 May 2018 12:50 GMT

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 1st Precinct in Manhattan in New York, U.S., May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone

By Alice Popovici

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters) - Film producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered to New York City police on Friday on charges of rape and sex abuse, months after he was toppled from Hollywood's most powerful ranks by scores of women accusing him of misconduct.

More than 70 women have accused the co-founder of the Miramax film studio and Weinstein Co of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades.

The accusations, first reported by the New York Times and the New Yorker last year, gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Weinstein is charged with rape, sexual misconduct, sex abuse and the committing of a criminal sex act against two women, the New York Police Department said in a statement, which did not identify the women.

Weinstein, 66, has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

Weinstein gave a weak smile as he arrived at the station house at about 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT) wearing a dark jacket over a blue sweater and white open-collared shirt and dark jeans.

He carried thick books under his right arm, including what appeared to be biographies of the Broadway musical duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Elia Kazan, the director of such classic Hollywood films as "On the Waterfront" and "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Police officers escorted Weinstein inside a lower Manhattan police station as scores of journalists pushed up against barricades for pictures and video, while three helicopters hovered overhead. He is due to appear later in the morning for arraignment at a Manhattan courthouse where a judge is expected to release him on bail, according to media reports.

Weinstein is expected to be charged with raping one woman and forcing another to perform oral sex on him, the Times reported, citing unidentified law enforcement officials.

Weinstein's spokesman Juda Engelmayer and his lawyer Benjamin Brafman both declined to comment to Reuters on Thursday on the imminent charges.

The charges follow a months-long investigation that involved the Manhattan district attorney's office.

The victim in the rape case has not been identified, the Times reported, but Weinstein will be charged with first-degree and third-degree rape. The other case involves allegations by Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress who told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to give him oral sex in 2004, the Times reported.

Entertainment industry heavyweights have distanced themselves from Weinstein since the accusations became public. The board of the Weinstein Co fired him and the company filed for bankruptcy in March.

In 2017, he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after racking up Oscars for a string of films that helped define independent cinema in the 1990s, including "The Crying Game," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Pulp Fiction."

Weinstein had been a fixture in the most elite entertainment circles of Manhattan and Los Angeles until his accusers came forward. He sought treatment for sex addiction at a facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, the New York Times reported.

London's Metropolitan Police have said they are investigating an allegation of sexual assault against Weinstein, while prosecutors in Los Angeles said in February they were reviewing three accusations of sexual assault against him.

Brafman said in a May court filing that federal prosecutors in New York had opened a separate criminal investigation into the allegations.

Actress Ashley Judd last month sued Weinstein, saying he cost her a part in 1998 in the film "The Lord of the Rings" after she rejected his sexual advances, charges that Weinstein has denied.

Actress Rose McGowan, among the first in Hollywood to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, said in a statement on Thursday that his alleged victims were now "one step closer to justice."

Other actresses who have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct include Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek. (Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien, Peter Szekely and Jonathan Allen in New York Writing by Jonathan Allen Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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