Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to California rape and sexual assault charges

Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to California rape and sexual assault charges

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday to all 11 charges of raping and assaulting five women in California hotel rooms.

The convicted rapist, who has spent 23 years in prison, has been returned to the city where he once presided over massive movie deals to face more charges that could lead to another 140 years in prison.

“The plea of ​​not guilty has been filed,” Judge Sergio Tapia said after a lawyer spoke on behalf of Weinstein, who was present in the courtroom, slumped in a wheelchair and dressed in a brown jumpsuit.

Weinstein is accused of sexually abusing five women in Los Angeles, including Lauren Young, who alleges that the producer of “Pulp Fiction” sexually assaulted her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress. .

Young has already testified in the New York case that led to Weinstein’s existing conviction — seen as a milestone for the #MeToo movement — which he will later appeal.

The other charges against Weinstein in Los Angeles date back to 2004. The statute of limitations expired after further rape allegations against Weinstein in the movie industry capital, as early as 1977.

They follow a similar pattern of Weinstein allegedly assaulting women — many aspiring Hollywood stars — in hotel rooms around Beverly Hills and western Los Angeles.

Fallen film industry titan

In all, nearly 90 women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.

Wednesday’s hearing took place largely behind closed doors, with Weinstein entering the courtroom earlier in the morning past reporters and locking the doors for about an hour before admitting journalists for a brief conclusion.

Weinstein’s attorney Mark Werksman called for three of the 2004 charges to be dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.

He also requested that Weinstein get a medical evaluation — which Judge Tapia allowed.

At the conclusion of the hearing, in which a strikingly pale Weinstein sat quietly, handcuffed to his seat, the judge wished the former Tinseltown titan “good luck.”

Weinstein appeared to thank the judge, his mouth obscured and his voice muffled by an ill-fitting blue mask.

Before the allegations emerged in 2017, Weinstein and his brother Bob had already left an indelible mark on Hollywood.

They co-founded Miramax Films, a small distribution company named after his mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979. It was sold to Disney in 1993.

Their hits included ‘Shakespeare in Love’ from 1998, for which Weinstein shared an Oscar for best picture. Over the years, Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.

(AFP)