MANHATTAN (CN) – Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein was arraigned Friday morning on rape and sex-crime charges after turning himself in to New York police.
Weinstein voluntarily surrendered at 7:30 a.m. to officers with the New York City Police Department’s First Precinct, near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.
The 66-year old entertainment mogul has been the subject of a seven-month investigation by authorities, after an October article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow detailed multiple women’s accounts of alleged sexual assault and rape.
A court complaint says Weinstein committed rape in 2013 at 569 Lexington Ave., the address of the DoubleTree Metropolitan New York City hotel.
While this accuser has not been identified, Weinstein also faces a criminal sex act charge stemming from claims by actress Lucia Evans that the producer forced her to perform oral sex him in summer 2004 despite multiple requests to stop.
Evans said that Weinstein overpowered her, telling the New Yorker: “I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.”
Aligning with the actress’s claims that Weinstein assaulted her at his office in Tribeca, the complaint identifies the site of Evans’ attack as 375 Greenwich St. Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, operated Miramax out of this building at the time and later The Weinstein Company.
At his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, a judge set bail for Weinstein at $1 million. Weinstein also must submit to electronic monitoring and cannot travel beyond New York and Connecticut.
The Associated Press says Weinstein flinched in court when the prosecutor described him to the court as a man who used power to prey on women.
“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” Manhattan Assistant Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said.
Illuzzi-Orbon prosecuted former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault back in 2011 but ultimately recommended dismissal of the indictment after concluding that the accuser’s account was not credible.
Weinstein has consistently denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex, which drove his film company into bankruptcy even after his ouster. The complaint against Weinstein also includes lower-level sex abuse and sexual misconduct charges.
“Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sexual behavior with anyone,” defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a statement after Weinstein’s arraignment. “Nothing about today’s proceedings changes Mr. Weinstein’s position.”
Brafman noted that Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and “fully expects to be exonerated.”
Evans’ attorney Carrie Goldberg predicted that the denials will ramp up with Weinstein’s prosecution.
“Over the next few months, we’ll be hearing from Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers, saying the victims are liars, that their client is being tried ‘by the movement’ or the press,” Goldberg said in a statement. “Those are the desperate excuses of somebody who thought he’d never get caught.”
Goldberg’s statement concluded with the command “Believe victims.”
“The arrest and future trial of Harvey Weinstein is but one victory in the war against sexual violence,” she said. “That war is far from over.”
Weinstein carried books with him for his surrender to police: “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.
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks, with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance facing enormous public pressure to build a case against the first career casualty of the #MeToo movement. Weinstein’s situation has also riled the Hollywood activist group Time’s Up, which has accused the Democratic Vance of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.
Vance has been under investigation himself since March by the state’s attorney general, who New York Governor Andrew Cuomo instructed to study Vance’s decision not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping made by an Italian model.
More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing around the globe. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, but many of the alleged encounters are too old to prosecute. The actress Rose McGowan said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992, and Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.
McGowan told the AP on Thursday that “the justice system has been something very elusive.”
“I hope in this case, it works. Because it’s all true. None of this was consensual,” she said.
While New York eliminated the statute of limitations for rape and certain other sex crimes in New York in 2006, attacks that happened prior to 2001 are not covered.
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. She is not one of the victims in the case on Friday; hers was still pending, officials said.
Authorities in California and London also are investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there date to the 1980s.
Academy Award winning films produced by the Weinstein Company include “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.” Harvey and his brother started the venture after leaving Miramax, which they founded in 1979. Top hits under Miramax from the 1990s include “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
The Weinstein Company moved out of 375 Greenwich St. in October 2017, distancing the company from the mounting claims against its namesake.