Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged sexual misconduct subsequently led to the creation of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements, appeared before a judge Friday morning.
The powerful movie and television producer faces charges of “rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women,” according to the New York Police Department. The crimes reportedly occurred in 2004 and 2013. Weinstein voluntarily attended his arraignment in a New York City courtroom. The judge released the defendant on a $1 million bail, required him to wear an electronic monitor and revoked his passport. Hecklers jeered at Weinstein as he walked from the building to his car.
“Today’s charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. “I thank the brave survivors who have come forward, and my office’s prosecutors who have worked tirelessly on this investigation.” Joan Illuzzi, an attorney in the district attorney's office, noted that Weinstein's arrest was the culmination of “months of investigation.” Another official involved in the probe said Weinstein “used his position, money and power” to exploit young women. The suspect is due back in court on July 30.
Ninety-five women have accused Weinstein of sexual assault or harassment over the past several decades. Their stories have shed light on Hollywood's “casting couch” culture and emboldened other women to speak out against their abusers. Television news coverage of the arraignment, showing Weinstein in handcuffs, brought tears of joy and relief to those who thought he would never be held accountable for his behavior.
The extent of Weinstein's alleged crimes, initially reported by The New York Times and the New Yorker, is shocking. Some of the film world's biggest stars have added their names to the list of his accusers.
The 2004 incident reportedly involved Lucia Evans, who described her experience in a New Yorker interview. She said Weinstein asked her to meet with him to discuss her career, but exploited the situation by forcing her to engage in oral sex. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,'” Evans recalled. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him. He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.”
In the 2013 case, Weinstein held a woman “physically against her will” and raped her in a hotel room, according to police. The purported victim, like many others, feared the producer because of his ability to destroy her career in the entertainment business. Weinstein is named in a number of lawsuits, one of which charges him with sexually assaulting a Netflix producer 11 times.
Prosecutors began preparing their case after actress Paz de la Huerta told Vanity Fair that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010. “I did say no, and when he was on top of me I said, ‘I don’t want to do this,'” the “Boardwalk Empire” star said. “He kept humping me and it was disgusting. He’s like a pig.”
Manhattan-based investigators went to Paris and Los Angeles to get information from de la Huerta and other witnesses. At the same time, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office was looking into five additional cases of alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein. The producer's lawyers say he continues to deny that he ever had non-consensual sex with anyone, even though in 2015 he was caught on tape apologizing to an Italian fashion model for having groped her.
Weinstein also is under scrutiny for hiring private investigators to search for incriminating information about his accusers. The producer's career is in shambles. The Hollywood studio he created, The Weinstein Company, fired him in October. He is no longer allowed to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, or the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He went to a rehabilitation center in Arizona last year.
Mia Farrow, reacting to Friday's courtroom drama, tweeted to fellow actress Mira Sorvino: “Today is for you.” Sorvino accused the producer of misconduct last year in a New York Magazine interview. Farrow, whose son Ronan was one of the reporters who broke the Weinstein story, wrote: “Dear Mira, I know how hard it was for you and the other women to risk so much to come forward with the details of one of your worst experiences, but thank you, thank you!”
Weinstein is just one of many powerful men who have reportedly committed sexual assault or harassment. More than 200 others in arts and entertainment, media, business, and politics stand accused of such crimes. Among them are Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, Garrison Keillor, Sean Hannity, Kevin Spacey, Scott Baio, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone and Al Franken.