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Weinstein posts $1mn cash bail on rape, sex crime charges

  • Published at 06:26 pm May 25th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:15 pm May 25th, 2018
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Harvey Weinstein arrives for arraignment at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in handcuffs after being arrested and processed on charges of rape, committing a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct on May 25, 2018 in New York City AFP

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

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was charged with rape and a sex crime in New York on Friday, posting a $1 million cash bail nearly eight months after his career imploded under bombshell accusations that triggered the #MeToo movement.

The former mogul -- once the toast of Hollywood and whose films won scores of Oscars -- grinned as he was escorted into a Manhattan court in handcuffs to face the first criminal charges posted against him.

Standing alongside his defense attorney, Weinstein looked glum during a brief arraignment, agreeing to post bail at $1 million cash, surrender his passport and be fitted with a GPS monitoring device.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office said he was charged with rape in the first and third degrees, stemming from an attack on a woman in 2013, and a criminal sex act against another woman in 2004. Neither victim was named.

"Today's charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation," said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, thanking "brave survivors" for coming forward and urging others to call a sex crimes hotline.

They are the first criminal charges against the twice-married, shamed former titan, who already faces a slew of civil lawsuits, is reportedly under federal investigation and whose former studio has filed for bankruptcy.

Defense attorney Ben Brafman told reporters that Weinstein would plead not guilty and that his client denied any non-consensual sexual activity.

"We intend to move very quickly to dismiss these charges," Brafman said. "Bad behavior is not on trial," he added. "Mr Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood."

The 66-year-old former studio boss surrendered to police shortly before 7:30 am (1130 GMT) wearing a white shirt, pale blue sweater and dark blazer, dozens of television cameras and photographers mobbing the street outside.

Handcuffs

He stepped out of a black SUV and walked into the station, clutching several books, among them what appeared to be the Rodgers and Hammerstein biography "Something Wonderful" and a book on late director Elia Kazan.

New York police said he was "arrested, processed and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct."

After having his mugshots and fingerprints taken, he was escorted out in handcuffs, again grinning, and driven to court in the back of a smart SUV.

Out on bail, Weinstein's travel will be restricted to New York and the neighboring state of Connecticut, and he agreed to surrender his passport. The case has been adjourned until July 30.

The district attorney and police have been investigating Weinstein for months, under growing pressure from Hollywood actresses to bring the disgraced producer to justice.

Lucia Evans, who said Weinstein forced her into oral sex in 2004, is thought to be one of the women whose cases triggered charges.

New York police previously confirmed another credible rape allegation after "Boardwalk Empire" actress Paz de la Huerta accused the former producer of raping her twice at her New York apartment in late 2010.

Weinstein's career went down in flames in October over sexual assault allegations following explosive articles in The New York Times and New Yorker, which sparked a sexual harassment watershed across the United States. 

Nearly 100 women have since accused Weinstein of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to assault and rape going back 40 years.

'Stop, don't'

Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are among more than two dozen actresses who say they were sexually harassed by the producer. A few, including Asia Argento and Rose McGowan, said they were raped.

"I have to admit I didn't think I would see the day that he would have handcuffs on him," McGowan told ABC television Friday.

The #MeToo movement has seen people around the world come forward with cases of sexual mistreatment, leading to the downfall of powerful men across industries, including Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

Evans told The New Yorker that Weinstein approached her in a club in 2004 and forced her to perform oral sex in a Tribeca office.

"I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,'" she said.

Weinstein has reportedly spent months in treatment for sex addiction. His fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman, has left him.

But for all the media circus, experts warn that any trial -- let alone a criminal conviction -- would still be a long way off.

Sexual assault cases, particularly those that allegedly happened years ago, are notoriously difficult to prosecute and often lack substantive forensic evidence.

Weinstein's lawyer is one of America's most celebrated criminal defence attorneys. His past clients include former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who escaped criminal prosecution for alleged sexual assault in 2011.