Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty To Rape Charges
Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein appeared in a New York City courtroom Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sex act, less than a week after a grand jury indicted him.
Weinstein, 66, had been expected to plead not guilty and remains free on bail.
Dozens of women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of persistent sexual misconduct.
The district attorney in Manhattan filed criminal charges stemming from "forcible sexual acts against two women" in New York.
One of the women, who has not publicly been identified, told investigators that Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 2013, The Associated Press reports.
The other woman, Lucia Evans, a former actress, has gone public with her account, telling The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his office in 2004.
Weinstein did not speak to reporters after Tuesday's arraignment, ducking into his waiting SUV, but his lawyer did address the crowd of journalists.
"Mr. Weinstein has denied these crimes," attorney Benjamin Brafman said. "He has maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sex with anyone."
Last fall, multiple women spoke to The New York Times and The New Yorker, accusing Weinstein of sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, stretching back over decades. Both news reports said the once-powerful producer had a history of attempting to pay for the accusers' silence.
The women's accounts helped launch the #MeToo movement, with other women stepping forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse from men across industries.
Several men have been professionally toppled by such accounts, including former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had been in the middle of prosecuting the case against Weinstein, when he stepped down last month after accusations of physical and sexual abuse by several women.
On May 25, the day of Weinstein's arrest and release on $1 million bail, Brafman seemed to concede that his client had engaged in bad behavior, even if it did not constitute criminal acts.
"Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood," he said, adding "bad behavior is not on trial in this case."
But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement that Weinstein is now "another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged."
Vance added, "The defendant's recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable."
On Tuesday, Brafman indicated Weinstein is ready to proceed with a robust defense.
"Today is the first day of this process," he said. "We begin our fight now."
Weinstein is being electronically monitored and has surrendered his passport, as he awaits his next court date scheduled for Sept. 20.