By James C. McKinley Jr.
Published 1:26 pm PDT, Monday, July 9, 2018
Photo: Pool / Getty Images
NEW YORK — A judge denied a request from prosecutors Monday to place Harvey Weinstein under house arrest in light of new charges against the movie producer that carry a penalty of life in prison if he is convicted.
Brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, Weinstein, 66, was released on bail after pleading not guilty in state Supreme Court on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2006.
Three women have now accused him of forcing them to have sex against their will over the past 14 years, and the new indictment includes two counts of predatory sexual assault, opening him up to a life sentence.
Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor, said Weinstein had sold a house in Connecticut, where he has been living, without telling prosecutors. Given the possibility of a life sentence and Weinstein’s wealth, she urged Justice James Burke to order him held under house arrest in New York City.
New York’s attorney general is suing the Weinstein Company and Harvey Weinstein alleging years of sexual harassment and misconduct by the movie producer. Insiders say the case could jeopardise talks on a potential sale of the studio. What does the civil suit allege? That the company’s executives and board repeatedly failed to protect employees from Weinstein for years, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. It also names Weinstein’s brother Bob, who co-founded the company. Weinstein Company executives, it is alleged, failed to act despite being repeatedly presented with credible evidence of Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour. Schneiderman also said he sued the company in part because of reports that a sale could be imminent. “Any sale of the Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be injustly enriched.” The state is seeking an unspecified amount of restitution and damages, plus penalties, for harm to victims. What does Weinstein say? His attorney Ben Brafman says a fair investigation will prove that many of the allegations against his client are without merit. “While Mr Weinstein’s behaviour was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality and at the end of the inquiry, it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or TWC.” “If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr Weinstein will embrace the investigation. If the purpose, however, is to scapegoat Mr Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself.” The background Weinstein, the co-founder of the Miramax studio, was one of Hollywood’s most influential men. However, more than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape. In October, the New York Times reported on multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. He denies having non-consensual sex with anyone. His lawyer says many of the latest allegations will turn out to be unmerited. The sale The studio has been in talks to sell itself to a group of investors led by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet. Insiders say the civil suit has put negotiations on hold.
“The charges he is facing now are substantially more serious than the charges he faced when he appeared before you,” she said.
But Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argued Weinstein already could have been sentenced to 25 years under a rape charge in the previous indictment, which, for a 66-year-old, is tantamount to a life sentence.
After hearing both arguments, Burke brusquely announced he would keep the bail the same. Weinstein had already put up $1 million in cash, surrendered his passport and agreed to wear a tracking device on his ankle. He may not leave New York and Connecticut.
Once one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women, among them well-known actresses like Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra.
In Manhattan, he is accused of three sexual attacks. The indictment says he forced an aspiring actress to give him oral sex in his Tribeca offices in 2004, raped another woman at a Midtown hotel in 2013 and compelled a third woman to let him give her oral sex in his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Weinstein maintains all of these encounters were consensual.
“We have every reason to believe he will ultimately be exonerated,” Brafman told the judge.
James C. McKinley Jr. is a New York Times writer.
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