A Manhattan grand jury on Wednesday indicted Harvey Weinstein on rape and sex crime charges, the next step in efforts by prosecutors to bring the disgraced Hollywood mogul to trial for alleged sex crimes.
The 66-year-old was initially charged last week in what was hailed a landmark for the #MeToo movement, nearly eight months after his career imploded in a blaze of accusations of misconduct.
“This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged,” Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance said Wednesday.
“Our office will try this case not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs,” added Vance, who has been criticized for failing to prosecute Weinstein in a separate case three years ago.
“This investigation remains active and ongoing. We continue to urge additional survivors and others with relevant information to call us,” he added.
Weinstein intends to plead not guilty and “strongly denies” the “unsupported allegations,” his defense lawyer Ben Brafman confirmed Wednesday.
“We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr Weinstein to be acquitted,” Brafman said.
The fallen producer declined to testify before the grand jury, on the advice of his legal team, which accused Vance’s office of bowing to political pressure.
The twice-married father of five is indicted with rape in the first and third degrees, stemming from an attack on a woman in 2013, and a criminal sex act against another woman in 2004. Neither victim has been named.
His lawyer says the rape allegation involves a woman with whom Weinstein “shared a 10-year consensual sexual relationship that continued for years” after the alleged 2013 incident.
Brafman also claimed that an indictment was “inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction.”
“The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable. We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand,” hit back Vance.
The former movie mogul posted bail at $1 million cash, surrendered his passport and has been fitted with a GPS monitoring device.
His career went down in flames in October over sexual assault allegations following explosive articles in The New York Times and New Yorker, which sparked a sexual harassment reckoning across the United States, in multiple industries.