Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein has been charged in the US with rape, sex abuse amidst other crimes against two women.
Weinstein, the founder of Miramax film studio, was handcuffed as he arrived at a New York City courthouse on Friday to face the allegations.
The case is the first criminal charges against the Hollywood mogul after months of sexual abuse allegations from scores of women.
The accusations have hampered his career and have served as a catalyst for the #MeToo movement – a public reckoning about sexual misconduct.
Speaking in court, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, a Manhattan assistant attorney, says Weinstein used “his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually”.
Weinstein flinched as he heard the portrayal. He appeared standing next to his advocate, Ben Brafman, while prosecutors arrange his bail.
Judge Kevin McGrath released Weinstein on a $1m bail, with constant electronic monitoring and a travelling ban beyond New York and the neighbouring state of Connecticut.
‘Charges not factually supported by the evidence’
Brafman, Weinstein’s lawyer, told reporters outside the court that his client will enter a plea of “not guilty” to the charges.
“We intend to move very quickly to dismiss these charges. We believe that they are constitutionally flawed. We believe that they are not factually supported by the evidence,” Brafman says.
Weinstein has consistently denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.
In a statement earlier in the day, the New York Police Department say Weinstein was “arrested, processed and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women”.
However, the statement did not identify the two women.
The Reuters news agency say the rape charge relates to a woman who was not identified.
A court complaint say Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel five years ago.
According to the New York Times , the criminal sex charge stems from a complaint filed by Lucia Evans, an upcoming actress, who say Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his office in 2004.
Evans was among the first women to speak out about the producer.
She told The New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College.
“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,'” she tells the magazine. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.”
Evans is now a marketing consultant.
More than 70 women have accused the Hollywood magnate of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades.
The outpouring saw people globally come forward with cases of sexual mistreatment, leading to resignations and sackings of influential men across industries.
They include TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, comedian Louis CK, Democratic Senator Al Franken, chef Mario Batali, casino magnate Steve Wynn and, most recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Women worldwide have also taken to social media, using #MeToo to share their own stories of being sexually assaulted or harrassed in the workplace.
Rose McGowan, who reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein relates to an encounter in 1997. She issued a statement about the development on Thursday, after it was reported that the accused would be turning himself in to authorities.
“I, and so many of Harvey Weinstein’s survivors, had given up hope that our rapist would be held accountable by law. Twenty years ago, I swore that I would right this wrong,” she says.
“Today we are one step closer to justice. We were young women who were assaulted by Weinstein and later terrorized by his vast network of complicity.”
“I stand with my fellow survivors,” adds McGowan.
“May this give hope to all victims and survivors everywhere that are telling their truths.”
Some of Weinstein’s more prominent accusers include Rosanna Arquette, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie , Ashley Judd , Lupita Nyong’o , Gwyneth Paltrow , Mira Sorvino and Uma Thurman.
Today Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell. We, the women, finally have real hope for justice. https://t.co/or8qGaNO93
— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) May 25, 2018
“Today Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell,” Asia Argento , another accuser, tweets.
“We, the women, finally have real hope for justice.”
“To see him in cuffs on his way out—whether he smiled or not—that’s a very good feeling,” McGowan says on Megyn Kelly TODAY, just after he was transported to New York County Criminal Court.
Then she admits: “I didn’t believe this day would come…”
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