Disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is under criminal investigation in Los Angeles, was indicted yesterday by a grand jury in New York on a pair of rape charges.
According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Weinstein was indicted on charges of first-degree rape and third-degree rape, along with a charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree.
“This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged,’’ Vance said. “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.’’
Vance was referring to statements made by Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, earlier in the day Wednesday criticizing the grand jury process and announcing that the former producer would not testify before the grand jury.
“After being unfairly denied access to critical information about this case that was needed to defend him before the grand jury, Mr. Weinstein’s attorneys decided that there was not sufficient time to properly prepare Mr. Weinstein,’’ Brafman said in a statement. “The identities of the accusers and the specific charges were provided to Mr. Weinstein last Friday on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend and a deadline for his appearance set for Wednesday, 2 p.m. Our request for a postponement of his appearance before the grand jury was denied.’’
Brafman also said Weinstein’s testimony before the grand jury would have been pointless, because “an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein.’’
Brafman told also told reporters that one of the alleged victims, an unidentified woman who claims she was raped by Weinstein at a Manhattan hotel in 2013, was involved in a decade-long “consensual sexual relationship’’ with the film producer that began before the alleged attack and continued afterward.
Weinstein, 66, was arrested and booked in New York on Friday.
Another alleged victim is believed to be a former aspiring actress, Lucia Evans, who said in an interview with The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during a 2004 meeting at his Miramax office in New York.
Another actress, Paz de la Huerta, best known for “Boardwalk Empire,’’ told Vanity Fair last year she was raped twice by Weinstein in New York in 2010. She said Weinstein gave her a ride home then insisted they have drinks, then forced himself on her.
Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting movie stars and employees of his former namesake company over the course of decades and then paying them or coercing them to stay silent. Dozens of women, including Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein has acknowledged inappropriate behavior in the past but has repeatedly denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
In addition to the investigation in New York, Weinstein is also under criminal investigation in Los Angeles and London.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing five potential cases against Weinstein — three from the Los Angeles Police Department and two from the Beverly Hills Police Department.
One of those cases is believed to be an allegation by an Italian actress/model who told police last year that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in February 2013 at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel, which is located in Los Angeles, where she was staying while attending the eighth annual Los Angeles, Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest.
“He … bullied his way into my hotel room, saying, ‘I’m not going to (have sex with you), I just want to talk,’’’ the woman told the Los Angeles Times. “Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked.
“He grabbed my by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do. He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me,’’ she said.
Weinstein left after about 45 minutes, and “acted like nothing happened,’’ the woman said.
“I barely knew this man,’’ she told The Times. “It was the most demeaning thing ever done to me by far. It sickens me still. … He made me feel like an object, like nothing with all his power.’’
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in November she had created a specialized task force in her office to evaluate cases of “sexual abuse in the entertainment industry.’’ She said the task force includes “specially trained’’ sex-crimes prosecutors who will review cases to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
The allegations against Weinstein touched off a firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond, sparking the #MeToo movement of women coming forward with claims of being victimized and the #TimesUp movement demanding change in the treatment of women.
The Weinstein Company production house was forced into bankruptcy following the allegations, and Weinstein himself was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other major Hollywood organizations.