The Los Angeles County District Attorney has filed criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein in connection with at least two instances in which the producer sexually assaulted women, officials announced in a Monday morning news conference.
Weinstein was charged in Los Angeles with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. He will be arraigned at a later date, likely after his New York
Weinstein has repeatedly maintained his innocence, denying that he
ever engaged in non-consensual sex with anyone.
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Los Angeles County prosecutors said Weinstein allegedly pushed his way into a woman's hotel room on Feb. 18, 2013, and raped her, then allegedly sexually assaulted a different woman at his Beverly Hills hotel room the next night.
"We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and them commit violent crimes against them," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. "I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.''
Weinstein faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The news came on the same day that Weinstein and several of the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct converged at a New York City courthouse where a judge and his lawyers handled the final preparations for his trial there on charges of rape and assault.
Weinstein entered the building leaning on a walker following a recent back surgery. When asked outside the courtroom how his back felt, Weinstein responded with a thin smile and a so-so gesture with his hand.
"Not so good," he said. "Better."
Inside, his lawyers and prosecutors spent the morning sparring about procedural matters, including how to keep publicity surrounding the trial from influencing the jury's thinking. In a brief hearing, the judge denied a motion to sequester jurors throughout the course of the trial and declined to gag Weinstein's attorneys from speaking to the media.
The judge also turned down a defense request to call as a witness a police detective who had been accused of mishandling part of the case.
Jury selection in the trial will start Tuesday, more than two years since the allegations first came to widespread public attention and catalyzed the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein's lead lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said she was hopeful a fair jury could be found that wouldn't pre-judge the case.
"In this great country, you are innocent until proven guilty," she told reporters outside the courthouse.
Weinstein faces allegations that he raped one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a woman, Mimi Haleyi, who had come to him seeking film work in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and says any sexual activity was consensual. If he's convicted of the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein faces a mandatory life sentence.