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Harvey Weinstein appears in court to answer rape, sex abuse charges

NEW YORK: Film producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered to New York City police on Friday on charges of rape and sex abuse and was taken to court in handcuffs, months after he was toppled from Hollywood’s highest ranks by scores of women accusing him of misconduct.

More than 70 women have accused the co-founder of the Miramax film studio and the Weinstein Co of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades.

He has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone, and his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said he intends to plead not guilty.

The accusations, first reported by the New York Times and the New Yorker last year, gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Weinstein, 66, is charged with two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act against two women, prosecutors said. They did not identify the women.

“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said at Weinstein’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Weinstein, wearing a dark jacket over a blue sweater and white open-collared shirt and dark jeans, appeared pale, and stood next to Brafman, staring into the middle distance while prosecutors described a bail agreement.

Judge Kevin McGrath ordered Weinstein released on $1 million cash bail. The fallen mogul surrendered his passport and agreed to wear a monitoring device that tracks his location.

Police officers had escorted Weinstein inside a lower Manhattan police station at about 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT). He carried thick books under his right arm, including what appeared to be biographies of Broadway musical legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Elia Kazan, the director of such classic Hollywood films as “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

About 90 minutes later, Weinstein was led by officers into court in handcuffs, grimacing with his head bowed, his books nowhere in sight, to await arraignment.

The charges followed a months-long investigation that involved the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

SURREAL

Actress Rose McGowan, among the first to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, said seeing images of him in handcuffs was surreal.

“I actually did not believe this day would come,” she said on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” program.

“This is a big strike into the heart of abuse of power.”

Entertainment industry heavyweights distanced themselves from Weinstein after the accusations became public. The board of Weinstein Co fired him and the company filed for bankruptcy in March.

In 2017, he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after racking up Oscars for a string of films that helped define independent cinema in the 1990s, including “The Crying Game,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Weinstein was a fixture in elite entertainment circles in Manhattan and Los Angeles until his accusers came forward. He sought treatment for sex addiction at a facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, the New York Times reported.

London’s Metropolitan Police have said they are investigating an allegation of sexual assault against Weinstein, while prosecutors in Los Angeles said in February they were reviewing three accusations of sexual assault against him.

Brafman said in a May court filing that federal prosecutors in New York had opened a separate criminal investigation into the allegations.

Actress Ashley Judd last month sued Weinstein, saying he cost her a part in 1998 in the film “The Lord of the Rings” after she rejected his sexual advances, charges that Weinstein has denied.

Other actresses who have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct include Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

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