Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges
of rape and sexual assaults, his lawyer said, in the first cases
involving the disgraced producer to be tested in criminal court since
scores of accusers emerged last year.
More than 70 women have accused the Miramax film studio’s co-founder
of sexual misconduct, including rape, in a series of incidents dating
The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement, which has seen
hundreds of women publicly accusing powerful men in business,
government and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.
Weinstein, 66, left Manhattan Supreme Court without speaking to reporters.
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman and Justin Henry, a spokesman for
the prosecutor, confirmed that Weinstein had pleaded not guilty.
“Mr. Weinstein has denied these crimes. He has never engaged in
non-consensual sex with anyone,” Brafman told reporters.
“As terrible a crime as rape is, it is equally reprehensible to be
falsely accused of rape. In his view, he has been falsely accused of
Weinstein turned himself in at a New York police station on May 25,
and was taken to court in handcuffs for his initial arraignment.
A judge ordered him released on a $1 million cash bail on condition
that he surrender his U.S. passport and agree to wear a
location-tracking device. He was ordered to remain in New York state
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office did not name
the two women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault in the criminal
complaint filed against him following a months-long investigation with
the New York Police Department.
The details of one of the cases closely align with the account of
Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress who told the New Yorker that
Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
The New York Times and the New Yorker first reported the allegations
against Weinstein last year.
If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between
five and 25 years in prison.
The charges against Weinstein mark the second high-profile prosecution
of a once-powerful celebrity in the #MeToo era.
Comedian Bill Cosby in April was convicted of drugging and sexually
assaulting a onetime friend, one of dozens of women who have accused
the comedian and former TV star of sexual misconduct.
Other actresses who have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual
misconduct include Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.
“It’s long overdue for him to face this,” said Gloria Allred, an
attorney who represents women accusing men of sexual harassment, told
reporters outside the court.
She said she has at least two clients who have accused Weinstein of
Once a fixture of elite Manhattan and Los Angeles society, Weinstein
has been ostracized since the accusations became public.
He went to Arizona for sex addiction therapy. The Weinstein Co’s board
fired him, the company filed for bankruptcy in March, and the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him.
In years past, the Academy had showered him with Oscars for a string
of films that helped define independent cinema in the 1990s, including
“Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”
London’s Metropolitan Police and Los Angeles prosecutors have said
they are reviewing accusations of sexual assault against him.