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'Another Step Closer To Accountability': Harvey Weinstein Indicted On Rape, Criminal Sex Act Charges

Harvey Weinstein, leaving court on May 25, 2018
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Harvey Weinstein, leaving court on May 25, 2018 JB Nicholas / Gothamist

A grand jury has indicted Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein on charges of rape in the first and third degrees as well as criminal sexual act in the first degree. This comes days after his May 25th arrest and a court appearance during which his lawyer insisted that Weinstein "did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood."

In October, nearly simultaneous investigative exposés from the NY Times and the New Yorker revealed that Weinstein, a long-feared and successful producer of critically acclaimed films including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Good Will Hunting and Trainspotting, had harassed, coerced, and even sexually assaulted dozens of women. His accusers ranged from assistants (who said they would have to clean up his semen and used condoms), to reporters and actresses. A number of women, including actresses Annabella Sciorra and Rose McGowan and director-actress Asia Argento, said that Weinstein raped them. Weinstein's high-powered team of lawyers and even former spies also allegedly enabled his predatory behavior over decades.

Managers and agents also allegedly ignored the allegations. Rosanna Arquette, who accuses Weinstein of trying to assault her in the 1990s, said in an interview this year, "I told people in the industry about my experience with Harvey in the hotel that day. I didn’t hide it. When I told them, I would hear, ‘I’d keep my mouth shut about that if I were you’ — even from female agents. I heard that warning and thought, ‘OK, no one is going to believe me. My words will get back to him. I’m f-ked!'"

The criminal sex act charge stems from a 2004 incident in which Lucia Evans, an aspiring actress at the time, finally agreed to see a female casting executive at Weinstein's Tribeca offices. Evans had met Weinstein at a club, but refused his attempts to meet with her. But when she got to the meeting, Weinstein was there and allegedly forced her to perform oral sex.

The rape charges stem from a March 18th, 2013 incident, in which a woman says Weinstein kept her at a Lexington Avenue hotel and raped her. On Tuesday, Weinstein's attorney Benjamin Brafman claimed that Weinstein and the accuser had a "10-year consensual relationship." As the NY Times pointed out, "Having had a long-term consensual relationship with a woman is not a defense against rape. Husbands and domestic partners, for instance, can be charged with rape if they use force or threats to compel a partner to have sex."

Weinstein, 66, had declined to testify in front of the grand jury. Brafman said on Wednesday, "We asked the district attorney for more time so that Mr. Weinstein's attorneys could gather the material needed to properly prepare him for his grand jury testimony but that request was denied."

He continued in his statement, "We remind everyone that an indictment is merely a formal accusation. Mr. Weinstein intends to enter a plea of not guilty and vigorously defend against these unsupported allegations that he strongly denies. We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr Weinstein to be acquitted."

"This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged. Our office will try this case not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs. The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable. We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said. "I thank the heroic survivors for their strength throughout this process. I also thank Commissioner James O’Neill and members of the New York City Police Department for their dedication to this case. This investigation remains active and ongoing. We continue to urge additional survivors and others with relevant information to call us at 212-335-9373."

Vance has been criticized for not pursuing charges against Weinstein in 2015, when an Italian model filed a report with the NYPD that Weinstein had groped her. The model even worked with the NYPD in a sting operation in which Weinstein admitted to the incident—while trying to convince her to come into his hotel room.

The indictment came on the day that the reporters who worked on the Weinstein stories—Jodie Kantor and Megan Twohey of the NY Times and Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker—received the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism.

In addition to the NYPD's investigation, the Los Angeles police department and authorities in the United Kingdom are also investigating sexual assault allegations against Weinstein.

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