Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to charges of rape and sexual misconduct
The arraignment comes after his indictment by a grand jury last week on multiple charges of rape and first-degree criminal sexual act
Harvey Weinstein, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in New York on Tuesday. The disgraced media mogul had appeared for the brief hearing in Manhattan — his first time in court since his May 25 arrest — where he sat through a formal reading of all the charges against him.
Following this, the 66-year-old who reportedly looked pale said "not guilty," denying all allegations of non-consensual sex. Weinstein, who has admitted that his behaviour has "caused a lot of pain," has always denied the allegations and described many of them as "patently false."
His lawyer Benjamin Brafman, meanwhile, has challenged the credibility of his alleged victims and called the rape allegations "absurd".
The arraignment comes after Weinstein's indictment by a grand jury last week on charges of first-degree criminal sexual act and first- and third-degree rape, as per charges levelled by two women who claim to have been victimized by him in New York in 2004 and 2013. He had chosen to not testify before the grand jury and later posted bail for $1m.
Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape by 87 women. Famous actresses and models such as Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevingne, Heather Graham, Salma Hayek, Lena Heady, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Minka Kelly, Rose McGowan, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwenyth Paltrow and Mira Sorvino are among the many brave women who have come forward with the accusations.
McGowan, for example, accuses Weinstein of raping her by performing oral sex in a hotel at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 when she was just 23 years old. 'Frida' actress Salma Hayek claims, while working with him, she has had to turn down unwanted advances from him multiple times, and even recollects him saying to her once, "I will kill you, don't think I can't."
Melissa Thompson, one among the three women that filed a class action lawsuit against former Hollywood producers, says he lured her into his hotel room and forcibly had intercourse with her in 2011.
“Thompson was fighting back, but could not out-muscle him,” the lawsuit states. “Thompson closed her eyes, traumatized, praying for the assault to end.”
Thompson, who had also made a video recording in which she speaks about the incident, alleges that she had submitted the video evidence to the law firm Benjamin Brafman, seeking their help. However, what she did not realize at the time was that the firm was representing Weinstein. She accuses Brafman and another attorney at his firm, Alex Spiro, of using deceptive tactics to get this video and audio evidences from her.
These charges could land the Miramax co-founder in jail for up to 25 years. Weinstein's trial is quickly becoming the signature trial of the #MeToo movement. However, it could take over a year for the case to even go to trial.