On June 5, disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein plead not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault in front of a Manhattan court just days after he was indicted on the charges. It was the 66-year-old’s first court appearance since he turned himself into New York police and was charged with two counts of rape and a criminal sex act on May 25.
These are the first criminal charges filed against the Weinstein since the New York Times and New Yorker published exposés containing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. More than 80 women, including actors Ashley Judd and Lupita Nyong’o, have come forward with similar allegations against Weinstein, amplifying the existing #MeToo movement to global proportions and sparking the Time’s Up initiative. As of right now, none of these allegations have been proven in a court of law.
So now that Weinstein is *finally* facing legal recourse, what happens next? Here’s what you need to know about Weinstein and the charges laid against him.
How did these charges come to be?
Weinstein has been charged with first-degree rape, third-degree rape and committing a first-degree criminal sexual act. As reported by the Associated Press, the charges against Weinstein stem from two women: one who has not been identified to the press and marketing consultant and former aspiring actress Lucia Evans.
The rape charges involve a woman who has not come forward publicly, but says that Weinstein confined her in a Manhattan hotel room against her will and raped her in 2013. The other charge is from allegations made by Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress who told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to give him oral sex in 2004.
Weinstein is pleading not guilty to the charges, and his lawyer told the press that the producer denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
Why isn’t Weinstein in jail?
Weinstein was released on US$1 million cash bail on May 25 after his lawyer Benjamin Brafman negotiated a bail package and the presiding judge agreed to it. As reported by the Times, in New York, “the only question a judge may consider in weighing bail is risk of flight, not whether the defendant poses a threat to the community.” Because Brafman successfully argued Weinstein had no record of arrest and will show up for his court appearances, he’s currently free to live at home. The conditions of Weinstein’s bail include him wearing a tracking device and surrendering his passport. Weinstein is also not allowed to travel outside of New York and Connecticut.
Usually, in New York, defendants who do not have the money to post bail end up being held at Rikers Island awaiting their trail, the Times notes. One of Weinstein’s accusers, actor Annabella Sciorra, tweeted that the alleged rapist should be “behind bars in Rikers” and not walking around free just because he’s rich.
If there was truly ’equal justice under the law’, Harvey Weinstein would be behind bars in Rikers today, waiting for his own day in court, not free to roam New York, his other hunting ground, wearing an ankle bracelet.
— Annabella Sciorra (@AnnabellSciorra) May 27, 2018
So what happens next?
On May 30, a grand jury indicted Weinstein on charges that he forced one woman to perform oral sex in his office and that he raped a second woman at a hotel, the Manhattan District Attorney Office said per the New York Times.
The indictment came less than a week after Weinstein turned himself in to NYPD and was arrested for the alleged sex crimes. After being indicted—a process that usually takes longer than five days—Weinstein will head to trial and face a jury. He has plead not guilty. If he is found guilty for his alleged crimes, he can face up to 25 years in prison.
Will there be more charges laid against Weinstein?
In November, New York police said they were “investigating allegations by another accuser, Boardwalk Empire actress Paz de la Huerta,” who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010, as reported by the New York Times. The Times also reports that the grand jury that indicted Weinstein is still hearing from witnesses, meaning they could add charges to his existing ones. “Prosecutors are also digging into the books of Mr. Weinstein’s companies, searching for evidence of financial crimes,” the outlet says.
Authorities in Los Angeles and London have also said that they are investigating allegations against Weinstein. And in England, there’s no statute of limitation on rape cases—which means he could get charged for alleged assaults from decades ago.
Here’s how celebrities are reacting
More than 80 women have made allegations against Weinstein that range from sexual misconduct, unwanted touching, attempted rape to rape—and many of his accusers are also famous actors including Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Asia Argento and Lupita Nyong’o. After Weinstein turned himself over to the authorities, many reacted on Twitter.
We got you, Harvey Weinstein, we got you
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) May 25, 2018
What took you so long Harvey? pic.twitter.com/MUFB34fWai
— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) May 25, 2018
— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) May 25, 2018
With files from the Associated Press
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