Disgraced Mogul Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Rape Charges
Weinstein, 66, was indicted last week on charges of rape in the first and third degree as well as criminal sexual act in the first degree. He was arrested on May 25 on those same counts and quickly released on bail.
The criminal sex act charge is in connection with an alleged 2004 sexual assault on aspiring actress Lucia Evans, police sources previously confirmed to PEOPLE. (Evans has agreed to be publicly named).
Weinstein is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 22 for a hearing on motions in his case, according to N.Y.C. prosecutors.
His lawyer Benjamin Brafman said in a statement last week that he was not surprised by the indictment, noting that it “does not add anything to the case we did not already know.”
“Mr. Weinstein intends to … vigorously defend against these unsupported allegations that he strongly denies,” Brafman said. “We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr. Weinstein to be acquitted.”
Brafman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
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Weinstein’s arrest came after a seven-month investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him — and just weeks after a grand jury was convened.
He has since handed over his passport and his travel is now limited. He is also wearing a monitoring bracelet.
The Oscar-winning producer and former studio head has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in the fall.
Lucia Evans told The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
“I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him,” she said in an October article. “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.”
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In the years following the alleged assault, Evans said she was largely unable to talk about the incident: “I was disgusted with myself,” she told the magazine.
“It was always my fault for not stopping him,” she said.
A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “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,” the spokesperson said.
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“It’s surreal. It’s real. It’s both,” McGowan said later on May 25 while appearing on Megyn Kelly Today. “To see him in cuffs on the way out … that’s a very good feeling.”
“I actually didn’t believe this day would come,” McGowan said. “This is a big strike into the heart of abuse of power, and it shows people that this cannot and will not stand.”
Legal Expert Weighs in on What Could Be Next
Los Angeles defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez tells PEOPLE that in his view, Weinstein should take the stand at trial.
“He’d better [testify in his own defense],” says Rodriguez, a former L.A. sex-crimes prosecutor who is unconnected with Weinstein’s case, “because he needs to beat this. If he doesn’t, he’s going to go to prison for a very long time.”
While noting that Weinstein’s financial resources give him “equal footing” with the district attorney’s office, Rodriguez says: “A successful defense in a high-profile case like this isn’t one where you attack the evidence that the prosecution puts against you. It’s one where you take that same evidence and you run a parallel universe to the jury.”
“He’s going to have to get on the stand and say, ‘Why would I use force?’ ” Rodriguez says of Weinstein. “‘I have sex all the time with as many women as I want. Women throw themselves at me all the time because they want a part.’ ”
In his opinion, Rodriguez says a trial isn’t likely to start for a year or more. He also says Weinstein has little incentive to consider a plea deal.
For the prosecution’s part, Rodriguez predicts that they will probably rely on the bevy of accusers against Weinstein with remarkably similar stories — which helps establish a pattern.
“I think people should understand just how much we have changed as a culture that someone of his stature has fallen,” he says. “And it wasn’t the accusations of A-list actors, female actors, that brought him down. It was the women that he thought he could just throw away.”