Harvey Weinstein

Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)

Disgraced Film Mogul Harvey Weinstein Arraigned On Rape, Other Charges

May 25, 2018 - 5:03 pm
Categories: 

NEW YORK (AP/CBS News) — It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been waiting for: Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.

The disgraced Hollywood mogul turned himself in to authorities on Friday in New York to face charges stemming from an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office into allegations of sexual abuse. 

Weinstein stepped from a black SUV and faced a crowd of news cameras as he arrived at the NYPD’s 1st Precinct in Tribeca around 7:30 a.m. Friday. He was carrying books including "Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution," about the Broadway musical duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and "Elia Kazan," about the famed film director. WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports his face seemed to have a "pained expression" and he appeared to be walking with a bit of a limp as he was escorted into the police station.

"It was just a matter of seconds. He walked past us, you could hear the shutters clicking and people trying to shout out a question or two. But he didn't look left, he didn't look right he looked straight ahead and down for the most part and sort of shuffled into the 1st Precinct Stationhouse," Adams reported.

During a half-hour in a cell, officials said, he sat on the floor and flipped through the Kazan biography.

The NYPD said Weinstein was booked on rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct charges for incidents involving two separate women.  "The NYPD thanks these brave survivors for their courage to come forward and seek justice," the department said in a statement. "The arrest and ensuing charges are the result of a joint investigation between the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office."

He left the police station in handcuffs with a strained smile on his face as he headed to a black SUV to be driven to a Manhattan criminal court at 100 Centre Street for his arraignment on first-degree rape, third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act -- all felony charges. The top charges against him carry the potential for up to 25 years in prison.

Later, in a courthouse booking area, he complained he felt faint and his handcuffs were too tight. Other suspects who recognized him yelled out, "Yo, Harvey!"

He was released on $1 million bail and is due back in court on July 30. He has until Wednesday to decide whether to testify before a grand jury.

He will also be required to wear an electronic monitor. He has surrendered his passport and if he will need court approval if he wishes to travel beyond New York and Connecticut. 

His attorney, Ben Brafman, released a statement saying, "Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sexual behavior with anyone. Nothing about today's proceedings changes Mr. Weinstein's position. Mr. Weinstein maintains that he is not guilty of the charges filed today and is confident that he will be fully exonerated."

Brafman said Weinstein will enter a plea of not guilty.

"We intend to move very quickly to dismiss these charges," Brafman said. "We believe that they are constitutionally flawed. We believe that they are not factually supported by the evidence and we believe that at the end of the process Mr. Weinstein will be exonerated."

When asked how his client is feeling, Brafman said "As well as can be expected when you are accused of a crime that you vehemently deny having committed."

He also took aim at the accusations and accusers, noting that the alleged attacks weren't reported to police when they happened and suggesting potential jurors wouldn't believe the women.

"Assuming," he added, "we get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case."

Asked about the raft of other allegations against Weinstein, 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.

The prosecutor said Weinstein used his position, money and power to lure young women and abuse them sexually.

The Manhattan DA's probe has been going on for months, and federal authorities have been investigating Weinstein since at least January, CBS News reported. 

“Today’s charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation," DA Cy Vance said. "I thank the brave survivors who have come forward, and my Office’s prosecutors who have worked tirelessly on this investigation. I would also like to thank Commissioner James O’Neill and our dedicated partners at the NYPD. We urge additional survivors and others with relevant information to call our Sex Crimes Hotline at 212-335-9373.”

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks. This is the first criminal case against the 66-year-old Weinstein to come out of the barrage of sexual abuse allegations from scores of women that destroyed his career and set off a national reckoning that brought down other powerful men in what has become known as the #MeToo movement.

A lawyer representing one of Weinstein's alleged victims called his arraignment on criminal charges "an emotional moment." Attorney Carrie Goldberg represents former actress Lucia Evans, who says Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in his office in 2004. Weinstein is also charged with raping another, unidentified woman at a hotel in 2013. The judge signed an order of protection for the unnamed woman, warning Weinstein he could not contact her by phone, email or in person.

Goldberg told The Associated Press that "we are relieved and grateful that justice is coming, but we also mourn the cases where it didn't."

She also says her "brave and beautiful client has sacrificed her privacy and peace to come forward" and asks that she be left alone.

Evans 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 told 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, who is now a marketing consultant, didn't report the incident to police at the time, telling The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow that she blamed herself for not fighting back.

"It was always my fault for not stopping him," she said.

Brafman said in court paperwork filed this month in a bankruptcy proceeding that the allegations that Weinstein forced himself on women were "entirely without merit."

"I am trying my very best to persuade both the federal and state prosecutors that he should not be arrested and or indicted, because he did not knowingly violate the law," Brafman wrote.

Brafman said in the same court filing that he had been informed that Weinstein was a "principal target" of an investigation being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Vance has come under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case. Some women's groups, including the Hollywood activist group Time's Up, accused the Democrat of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.

In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extraordinary step of ordering the state's attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model.

Vance had insisted any decision would be based on the strength of the evidence, not on political considerations. His office declined comment Thursday.

More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, including film actress Rose McGowan, who said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992, and the Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe, who said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008. Another aspiring actress, Mimi Haleyi, said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his New York apartment in 2006.

New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, "Boardwalk Empire" actress Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010.

McGowan said she was "in shock" at the news that Weinstein would face charges.

"I still have very guarded hopes. The justice system has been something very elusive. And I hope in this case it works. Because it's all true. None of this was consensual." she said. "I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us. It shows that it can be done."

She tweeted Friday, "We got you, Harvey Weinstein. We got you."

The statute of limitations for rape in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.

Several filed a federal lawsuit claiming his efforts to prey on women and cover up complaints amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Authorities in California and London are also investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there go back to the 1980s.

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein started his now-bankrupt company after leaving Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and which became a powerhouse in '90s indie film with hits like "Pulp Fiction," and "Shakespeare in Love." The Weinstein Co. found success with Oscar winners "The Artist" and "The King's Speech."

Even in a Hollywood where some film producers have long enjoyed outsized power, Weinstein stood out as someone who could make or destroy careers — a factor that kept many of his accusers, and people aware of his problematic conduct with women, from speaking out.

The public allegations against Weinstein helped prompt a broad public reckoning about sexual misconduct.

Major figures in media and politics have lost their jobs or had their reputations tarnished by allegations that they subjected women to unwanted advances or outright assaults. They include TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, comedian Louis C.K, Democratic Sen. Al Franken, chef Mario Batali, casino magnate Steve Wynn and, most recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)