NEW YORK -- Harvey Weinstein was arrested on rape and other abuse charges Friday, months after allegations of sexual violence and harassment toppled the once-powerful Hollywood mogul.
"This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually," Assistant District Attorney Joan llluzzi said as she read the charges in New York Criminal Court.
The allegations against Weinstein ignited the global #MeToo movement, which brought to the fore women's stories of sexual misconduct by several powerful men in the media and in politics -- and resulted in their downfall.
Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters Friday that his client plans to plead innocent -- and his legal team will fight to dismiss the charges. "We believe that at the end of the process Mr. Weinstein will be exonerated," he said.
Asked about the raft of other allegations against Weinstein, made by scores of other women, Brafman said the case was a question of crime, not bad behavior.
"Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood," the attorney said.
Weinstein, 66, faces charges of rape, criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct for cases involving two women.
Three of the charges are felonies -- rape in the first degree, rape in the third degree and a criminal sexual act in the first degree -- and pertain to "forcible sexual acts against two women in 2013 and 2004, respectively," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office said Friday morning.
In the complaint, a New York police detective stated that in 2004, Weinstein forced a woman to engage in oral sex with him, physically shoving her head downward. The detective also said that in 2013, Weinstein kept a woman in a room against her will "and engaged in sexual intercourse with informant by forcible compulsion" even though she had "clearly expressed her lack of consent to the act."
After his arraignment Friday morning, Weinstein posted $1 million bond and surrendered his passport. He will wear an electronic monitoring device at all times and face other travel restrictions.
"Today's charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation," Vance said in a statement after the arraignment. "I thank the brave survivors who have come forward, and my office's prosecutors who have worked tirelessly on this investigation."
He also urged other victims to contact authorities.
Dozens of Hollywood women have accused the producer of sexual misconduct.
Actor Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of rape, tweeted Friday: "We got you, Harvey Weinstein, we got you." Asia Argento, who also has accused Weinstein of rape, tweeted a live feed of Weinstein's walk Friday morning into the courthouse.
"Today Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell. We, the women, finally have real hope for justice," Argento wrote in another tweet.
As he surrendered about 7:30 a.m., Weinstein found himself surrounded by lights and cameras in a spectacle he couldn't control.
"You sorry, Harvey?" came a shout from a throng of media as he was later led into a lower Manhattan courthouse.
Asked "what can you say?" Weinstein mildly shook his head and softly said "no."
With his arm held by a detective, Weinstein was taken to a back entrance of the courtroom and walked in a half-circle; he looked around the room and appeared to mouth the word "wow" as he entered.
Brafman could soon be seen carrying Weinstein's passport, which he would later hand over to Illuzzi in court.
Earlier, Weinstein lumbered into a police station carrying books that harked to his show-business roots: one on the Broadway songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and another about famed film director Elia Kazan.
During a half-hour in a cell, officials said, he sat on the floor and flipped through the Kazan biography. Later, in a courthouse booking area, he complained that he felt faint and his handcuffs were too tight. Officers used three linked sets to put his hands behind his back -- a common procedure for heavyset prisoners. Other inmates who recognized him yelled out, "Yo, Harvey!"
The top charges against him carry the potential for up to 25 years in prison.
Weinstein's arrest came months after Vance's office reportedly began an investigation into allegations of sexual assault. Police officials said the arrest and charges stemmed from a joint investigation between the New York City police and the Manhattan district attorney's office.
For a Hollywood community that is accustomed to Weinstein as a powerful figure -- the producer who helped the art house go mainstream with hits such as The English Patient, The King's Speech and Pulp Fiction -- the sight of him being led around a courtroom was a jarring one.
Wearing a dark jacket draped over a baby-blue sweater, he seemed unsure on his feet and offered a long stare as he turned to face the gallery before the proceeding.
As he exited the courtroom, however, he seemed to spring to life, even backslapping a man in the gallery who stood up to talk to him, saying "hey" to the person as they walked out together.
One of the cases against Weinstein stemmed from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who first told The New Yorker, and then investigators from Vance's office, that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa in 2004.
"We are relieved and grateful that justice is coming, but we also mourn the cases where it didn't," Evans' lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, said in a statement.
The victim in the other case has not been publicly identified, but prosecutors said that incident occurred March 18, 2013, at 569 Lexington Ave., the address for the DoubleTree Metropolitan Hotel.
'SO MANY EMOTIONS'
Weinstein had been a powerful force in the entertainment world until last year's series of investigative stories from The New York Times and The New Yorker that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women.
Since then, scores more have come forward to claim Weinstein used his status to sexually assault and harass them. Other women who have publicly accused Weinstein of criminal sexual assault include Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992, and Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe, who said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.
The revelations sparked a broader reckoning with offensive sexual behavior in Hollywood that has since touched other industries.
Several other powerful men in media and entertainment, facing accusations of a range of sexual misconduct, have retreated from the spotlight, but few have faced criminal prosecution. Bill Cosby, convicted last month on three counts of sexual assault, is perhaps the most notable exception.
"Sending love to all my sisters today who stood up against a monster," tweeted actress Mira Sorvino, who accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and of trying to derail her career after she refused his advances. "So many emotions ... I am proud of and grateful to you all."
"Today is a day I never thought I'd see when I came forward 22 months ago alone," former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who sued network founder Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in 2016, tweeted Friday. "Thank you for listening to women."
Earlier this year, a group of women in the entertainment industry formed Time's Up, an organization made up of several A-listers and aimed at combating sexual harassment against all kinds of workers, including housekeepers and farmworkers.
"Today a man whose actions were so egregious that they spawned a global reckoning has been taken into custody," the organization said in a statement. "Harvey Weinstein shattered the lives of an untold number of women. We stand with them, and remain in solidarity with women everywhere who have faced unsafe and abusive workplaces."
Authorities in several cities have also begun criminal investigations into Weinstein. Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police have submitted a total of five cases for review by prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors also have opened an investigation into the sexual-abuse allegations, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Prosecutors made clear Friday that the legal jeopardy facing Weinstein does not end with these charges, saying they are continuing to investigate allegations of other crimes involving other victims.
Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, had been under fire over his office's handling of a 2015 case against Weinstein. Critics accused Vance -- who was re-elected to a third term last year -- of possible conflicts of interest with the movie mogul.
The district attorney has repeatedly said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Weinstein in a 2015 case involving model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, whose allegations were detailed in the explosive New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow. The New Yorker also published audio, obtained during a 2015 New York police sting, in which Weinstein admits to Gutierrez that he groped her as he tried to persuade her to join him in his hotel room.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in March directed the state's attorney general to review the 2015 case, citing "questions about the handling" of it by Vance. "It is critical not only that these cases are given the utmost attention but also that there is public confidence in the handling of these cases."
Weinstein's next court date is July 30.
The charges against Weinstein followed a wave of accusations that led women around the world -- some of them famous, but many of them not -- to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men.
Those stories underpinned the #MeToo movement drawing attention to sexual harassment and assault, and since then, the ground has shifted beneath men who for years had benefited from a code of silence around their predatory behavior. As a result, many figures in media and politics have been forced out of their jobs or seen their reputations tarnished.
Those men include TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose; comedian Louis C.K.; U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.; chef Mario Batali; casino magnate Steve Wynn; and, most recently, Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Schneiderman resigned earlier this month after assault claims against him from four women first published in The New Yorker.
In Weinstein's case, rumors had swirled for years about his actions.
Journalists and investigators, chasing leads from a whisper-network of women and a handful of complainants, sought to expose the accusations and hold him accountable, but largely came up empty. Weinstein's power was after all enormous; his and his lawyers' connections were extensive; and he was often able to buy or coerce the silence of any accusers, at times employing an Israeli security firm called Black Cube, many of whose employees were former intelligence operatives.
Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said the intense response to the flurry of accusations against Weinstein could be linked to President Donald Trump's election.
"The backlash to him and his election was so massive among women that that was the setup," Spillar said. "I don't think the 'Weinstein effect' could have happened without the Trump effect first, and the massive women's marches and the protests."
Trump was recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women in an Access Hollywood tape from 2005 that emerged in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
"We, as victims of that kind of behavior, we had all heard that kind of talk before," Weinstein accuser Louisette Geiss said of the reaction to the Trump recording. "And then you felt like, oh my gosh, now someone can treat women like that and become president! It was just, 'Enough is enough.'"
Geiss, 44, says she had an encounter with Weinstein in a hotel room in 2008, when he undressed and tried to force her to watch him masturbate. She says she managed to elude his grasp and run out, but the incident persuaded her to leave the movie business.
Though the Weinstein allegations were a catalyst for #MeToo, the movement did not emerge out of thin air. Activists involved in addressing sexual assault on campuses and in the military had laid groundwork over the previous years and were poised to help expand #MeToo once it emerged.
"It was activists on the ground who really primed our culture to be ready for this," said Jess Davidson, a sexual-assault survivor who is now interim executive director of End Rape on Campus.
Information for this article was contributed by Abby Ohlheiser, Steven Zeitchik, Elahe Izadi and Mark Berman of The Washington Post; by Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Pearson, Jocelyn Noveck and David Crary of The Associated Press; and by Benjamin Mueller and Alan Feuer of The New York Times.
Benjamin Brafman, attorney for film producer Harvey Weinstein, said Friday outside the New York County Criminal Court building that his client hopes to get the sexual-misconduct charges dismissed.
A Section on 05/26/2018
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