Harvey Weinstein Faces New Sex Assault Charges in California as New York Trial Begins
New sex crimes charges against Harvey Weinstein were announced in California on Monday, coinciding with the start of a New York trial in which the disgraced movie mogul is accused of sexually assaulting two women and faces life in prison if convicted.
The newest charges, described in a news release by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, accuse Weinstein of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.
On Feb. 18, 2013, according to the news release, Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel “and raped a woman after pushing his way inside her room,” the DA’s office alleges. The next evening he allegedly assaulted a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.
Neither of the two alleged victims was identified, and the investigation is ongoing, according to the DA’s office.
A representative for Weinstein could not immediately be reached to comment on the new charges, but in a prior statement to PEOPLE, his spokesperson said “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
In the New York trial, which unfolds as a pivotal moment in the #MeToo movement propelled by the original allegations against Weinstein, a judge’s opening instructions Monday were to be followed by an estimated two weeks of jury selection in the high-profile case, reports The New York Times. The trial itself could last two months.
But almost none of the more than 80 women to have come forward about Weinstein’s alleged behavior will be heard in court. Instead, the charges there against him — two counts of rape, one count of criminal sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault — are based on the accusations of only two women, according to The Washington Post.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to the New York charges. The California charges carry a separate penalty of 28 years in state prison if he is later convicted there.
But the high stakes are obvious for his alleged victims seeking validation. In May, an attorney announced a $44 million settlement that would see Weinstein compensate women who have sued him for alleged sexual misconduct while settling a pending civil-rights lawsuit by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, reported the Los Angeles Times.
And ahead of the trial that will unfold in a Manhattan courtroom, 25 women — not including those whose accusations will be heard at trial — issued a statement Friday saying the trial is “critical to show that predators everywhere will be held accountable,” reports the Post.
“Thanks to the courage of so many women who risked everything to come forward — this ugly facade came down and [Weinstein] finally faced a public and professional reckoning for his actions,” said the statement.
Weinstein’s downfall began with a pair of investigations published in October 2017.
First, reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a feature in The New York Times in which eight women, including the actress Ashley Judd, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.
RELATED VIDEO: Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Her Decision to Sue Harvey Weinstein: ‘I Lost Prestige & Power in My Career’
In the wake of the reports, Weinstein’s studio — which he founded with his brother and business partner, Bob — filed for bankruptcy in March 2018. He and his wife, Georgina Chapman, also divorced.
Bob Weinstein confronted his brother about his alleged “misbehavior” in 2015 before the allegations went public, according to a letter published in a book about the scandal by reporters Kantor and Twohey.
“You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehavior,” Bob Weinstein wrote in the letter, which is contained in full in the book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. “Your reaction was once more to blame the victims, or to minimize the misbehavior in various ways. If you think nothing is wrong with your misbehavior so in this area then announce it to your wife and family.”
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Bob Weinstein told the book’s authors that he mistakenly believed his brother’s problems were related to sex addiction and eventually stopped trying to address them.
“I got worn out,” he told Kantor and Twohey. “I said, ‘I surrender,’ see?”
“Bob long believed that Harvey was a sex addict engaged in persistent philandering, and, therefore, Bob repeatedly implored his brother to seek treatment from a doctor who specialized in sex addiction, including in the 2015 letter, as well as after he wrote that letter, which also addressed Harvey’s behavior toward Bob and his verbal abuse of others,” Bob’s attorney said in a statement provided to The Wrap. “Although Harvey promised Bob he would heed his advice and get the help Bob believed he needed, he apparently never did.”
The New Yorker‘s Farrow also followed up his reporting on Weinstein with a book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.
Prior to his criminal trial, Weinstein has been free on a $1 million bail with GPS monitoring, according to the Los Angeles Times.