Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape, sex abuse and other crimes against two women in the first criminal charges to be filed against him after months of sexual abuse allegations from scores of women that destroyed his career and helped the #MeToo movement go viral.
Weinstein stepped from a black SUV and walked slowly into a Manhattan police station on Friday morning before a crowd of news cameras. He did not respond to shouts of his name.
According to local media, the case includes allegations by Lucia Evans, an aspiring actress who has said the Hollywood mogul forced her to perform oral sex on him in his office. She was among the first women to speak out about the producer.
Local media also reported, quoting unnamed sources, that Weinstein was being charged with rape in relation to allegations made by another woman, who has not spoken publicly.
More than 70 women have accused the co-founder of the Miramax film studio and Weinstein Co of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades.
‘I don’t want to do this’
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks.
Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment, though Weinstein has said repeatedly through his lawyers that he did not have nonconsensual sex with anyone.
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, did not 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 US attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has come under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case.
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 CK, Democratic Senator Al Franken, chef Mario Batali, casino magnate Steve Wynn and, most recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Women worldwide have also taken to social media, using #MeToo to share their own stories of being sexually assaulted or harrassed in the workplace.