Harvey Weinstein

Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)

Harvey Weinstein Indicted By Grand Jury In Rape Case

May 30, 2018 - 11:42 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/CBS News/AP) -- Harvey Weinstein was indicted Wednesday by a New York grand jury on rape and other sex charges.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office announced the indictment late Wednesday afternoon. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the indictment brings Weinstein "another step closer to accountability."

Weinstein's defense attorney said the indictment was no shock.

"The announcement of Mr. Weinstein's indictment, does not come as a surprise," Weinstein defense attorney Ben Brafman said in a statement. "Indeed, it was predicted by me this morning in an earlier statement we issued."

Earlier, Weinstein's lawyers decided there wasn't enough time to prepare him to testify before the grand jury and he would not do so.

A statement issued through a Weinstein spokesman said the 66-year-old film producer, who has denied the allegations, learned of the specific charges and the accusers' identities only after turning himself in Friday. With a deadline set for Wednesday afternoon to testify or not, his request for more time was denied, the statement said.

Defendants have the right to testify in a grand jury's secret proceedings but often don't, for various reasons.

"Finally, Mr. Weinstein's attorneys noted that regardless of how compelling Mr. Weinstein's personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein," the statement said.

Vance said in a statement that the Weinstein camp'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 said.

Former New Jersey prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney Robert Bianchi said the speed that the case is moving likely means prosecutors have strong evidence.

“He’s going to be in for a world of hurt, because they’re not going in with this kind of case this quickly and indicting it unless they felt very, very confidence in the evidence they have,” Bianchi told WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz.

Brafman said his client will enter a not guilty plea, and he will ask the court to dismiss the charges.

Weinstein faces first- and third-degree rape and criminal sex act charges involving two women in New York. He was charged Friday with raping one woman and committing a criminal sex act by compelling oral sex from another.

The rape charges stem from an alleged incident in March 2013 with a woman who has not been publicly identified. Brafman said the woman and Weinstein had been in a 10-year consensual relationship that continued for years after alleged rape.

The woman, who hasn't been identified publicly, told investigators Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.

The other accuser in the case, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.

Evans said in a statement "what Mr. Weinstein's attorneys call casting couch behavior we know is actually a sex crime. A 'movement' doesn't indict. A grand jury does."

Beyond the two women involved in the New York case, dozens more women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault in various locales.

Vance, a Democrat, came under public pressure from women's groups to prosecute Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say Weinstein had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein and him apologizing for his conduct. But Vance decided there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, ordered the state attorney general to investigate how Vance handled that matter.

Freed on $1 million bail and electronic monitoring, Weinstein was due back in court July 30, though that date may now be moved up in light of the indictment.

If convicted, Weinstein could face decades in prison.

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