New York — Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul, is expected to surrender to the police in Manhattan on Friday on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him, law enforcement officials said.
The charges follow an avalanche of accusations against him that led women around the world, some of them famous and many of them not, to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men.
Those stories spawned the global #MeToo movement, and since then, the ground has shifted beneath men who for years benefited from a code of silence around their predatory behaviour.
Weinstein, 66, had until recently seemed untouchable, harnessing his wealth and his influence in the movie industry to intimidate women out of speaking publicly and, only three years ago, withstand an investigation into groping allegations.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office faced an outcry over not charging Weinstein in the groping case, but the outcome this time was different.
He will be charged with first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and with first-degree criminal sex act in another, law enforcement officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The criminal sex act charge stems from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker and then investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa.
The victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified. Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting movie stars and employees of his former namesake company over the course of decades and then paying them or coercing them to stay silent.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment. In the past, he has said Weinstein denies any allegations of “nonconsensual sex.”
Weinstein has agreed to surrender himself at a police precinct Friday morning and will be arrested on a criminal complaint, law enforcement officials said. He is then expected to be taken to Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned on the charges.
As part of a bail package negotiated in advance, Weinstein will put up $1 million (about R12 million) in cash and will agree to wear a monitoring device. His travel will be restricted and he will surrender his passport.
For years, Weinstein was the subject of rumors in media and entertainment circles, but he began facing official inquiries in New York, Los Angeles and London after revelations in The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Prosecutors in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., conducted dozens of interviews in New York and elsewhere and issued hundreds of subpoenas, and their inquiry is not over. An investigative grand jury, still convened, will look into other sexual assault allegations against Weinstein as well as possible financial crimes relating to how he paid women to stay silent, people familiar with the proceedings said. Among other things, the grand jury is delving into whether Weinstein used employees of his former production company to identify women for him to assault, to set up meetings with the women or to discredit them if they complained.
Many of the complaints against Weinstein stemmed from encounters too long ago to be prosecuted under New York’s statute of limitations, law enforcement officials said. In other cases, victims did not want to testify.
But the accusations by Evans and the other woman were not subject to a statute of limitations because they involved forcible compulsion, for which any time limit was effectively lifted after 2001, the officials said.
Evans was a college student and an aspiring actress when Weinstein approached her at a New York club in 2004, she told The New Yorker. Weinstein and an assistant began calling her, asking to meet. After she arrived at the Miramax office for a daytime meeting, she told The New Yorker that Weinstein pulled her head down and forced her to perform oral sex, despite her repeated protests and attempts to get away.
Investigators are still hoping that more women might come forward.
News outlets have reported on dozens of allegations against Weinstein, many of them sharing a common narrative: Women reported to a hotel for what they thought were work reasons, only to discover that Weinstein sometimes seemed to have different interests.
But it remains to be seen how much supporting evidence prosecutors will be allowed to introduce in seeking to demonstrate a pattern of criminal behavior. Law enforcement officials said that even though some of the cases they have investigated fall outside the statute of limitations, prosecutors could still call those women to testify to establish a pattern of previous bad acts, just as prosecutors did in the Bill Cosby trial. A judge would have to permit their testimony.
The New York Times