Grand jury indicts Harvey Weinstein on rape and criminal sex act charges

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A New York grand jury has indicted former film mogul Harvey Weinstein on rape and criminal sex act charges.

In a statement announcing that Mr Weinstein would face charges of rape in the first and third degrees and a criminal sexual act in the first degree, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance said the emerging criminal case meant Mr Weinstein would face “accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged”.

“Our office will try this case not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs”, Mr Vance said.

Mr Weinstein surrendered to authorities last week, capping a months-long downfall that has seen dozens of women accuse him of sexual misconduct or assault and led him to be forced out of the film company he co-founded.

He has consistently denied wrongdoing, and his legal team has said he intends to plead not guilty. A statement issued on behalf of Mr Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman said his client was “unfairly denied” information about the grand jury proceedings and given insufficient time to prepare, compelling Mr Weinstein to not appear before the grand jury.

Mr Brafman also questioned the allegations against Mr Weinstein - saying that one was more than 14 years old and that another came from a woman who had been in consensual relationship with Mr Weinstein - and Mr Vance’s motives.

“Regardless of how compelling Mr Weinstein's personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction”, the statement said.

In his own statement, Mr Vance dismissed Mr Weinstein’s “recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process”.

“We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand”, Mr Vance said.