Charged With Rape, Weinstein Posts $1 Million Bail and Surrenders Passport
Posted May 25, 2018 1:01 p.m. EDT
Updated May 25, 2018 1:11 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to detectives and appeared in court Friday on charges he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex, a watershed in a monthslong sex crimes investigation and in the #MeToo movement.
Around 7:30 a.m., Weinstein walked into a police station house in lower Manhattan, flanked by several sex-crimes detectives. Toting three large books under his right arm, he looked up without saying a word as a crush of reporters and onlookers yelled, “Harvey!”
With camera shutters clicking and reporters shouting questions, the scene was a mirror image of the red carpets where Weinstein presided for decades as a movie mogul and king of Hollywood.
But after decades of harnessing his wealth and his influence in the movie industry to buy or coerce silence from women, and after withstanding an investigation into groping allegations three years ago, Weinstein’s reign ended behind bars in a police holding cell Friday morning.
He was fingerprinted and formally booked. About an hour later, he was led from the First Police Precinct in TriBeCa and taken to court on Centre Street to face rape charges, his arms pinned behind him in three sets of handcuffs to accommodate his girth, a law enforcement official said.
The books he carried into the station house — among them “Elia Kazan: A Biography,” by Richard Schickel, and “Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution,” by Todd S. Purdum — were gone and he was buckled into his seat in a waiting SUV.
Around 9:25 a.m., Weinstein was escorted into a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court by two police investigators, one holding each of his elbows. They were Sgt. Keri Thompson and Detective Nicholas DiGuadio from the department’s Special Victims Division, both of whom have long been involved in tracking down Weinstein’s accusers and corroborating their accounts.
At the beginning of a brief appearance before Judge Kevin McGrath, Weinstein, his arms still handcuffed, was led up to the bench.
Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor on the case, read the charges against him: first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and first-degree criminal sex act in another.
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 in 2004.
The victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified, but the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said the attack happened in 2013. Illuzzi said the charges resulted from “months of investigation.”
“That investigation,” she continued, “has shown that this defendant used his money, power and position to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually.”
Illuzzi said the investigation was continuing and asked McGrath to issue an order of protection against Weinstein on behalf of one of the women, though Illuzzi did not name her.
Weinstein remained silent throughout the 10-minute proceeding. He was not required to enter a plea because he was arrested on a criminal complaint, rather than an indictment. But his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said after the hearing that Weinstein planned to enter a plea of not guilty if he is indicted. Weinstein will have to decide by Wednesday whether he plans to testify in front of the grand jury that is continuing to investigate his case.
Brafman said he would “move quickly” to dismiss the charges, calling them “constitutionally flawed and factually unsubstantiated.” “I anticipate that the women who have made these allegations, when subjected to cross-examination — in the event we get that far — will not be believed by 12 people,” Brafman said. He continued, “Assuming we get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case.”
Brafman also drew a distinction between bad conduct and criminal conduct.
“My job is not to defend behavior — my job is to defend criminal behavior,” he said. “Mr. Weinstein did not create the casting couch in Hollywood.”
As the hearing came to an end, Brafman handed Weinstein’s passport to Illuzzi and said he was ready to present a $1 million cashier’s check to pay Weinstein’s bail.
While reporters waited for Brafman to make remarks, Weinstein slipped out through an employee door at the back of the courthouse just before 10 a.m. and climbed into a waiting Toyota.
The charges follow a wave 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 behavior. Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting movie stars and employees of his former namesake company over the course of decades.
Weinstein reigned as one of Hollywood’s top producers, known as much for his bullying and aggression as for his cinematic success. Over the years, journalists and investigators, chasing leads from a whisper network of women and a handful of complainants, tried to expose the accusations and hold him accountable, but came up empty. Weinstein’s power was enormous, his and his lawyers’ connections were extensive, and he was often able to buy or coerce the silence of any accusers.
Revelations in The New York Times and The New Yorker in the fall spurred official inquiries in New York, Los Angeles and London.
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.
The First Police Precinct station house, where Weinstein was arrested, was not unfamiliar to him. Three years ago, after an Italian model, Ambra Battilana, accused Weinstein of groping her during a meeting in his office, she spoke to detectives at the same station house, on Varick Street. While she was there, Weinstein called her and set up a meeting for the following day.
With detectives watching and recording, Weinstein and Battilana met at the TriBeCa Grand, where Weinstein acknowledged he had touched her breasts and promised not to do so again. But he was not asked about putting his hand up Battilana’s skirt as she had alleged. Detectives took Weinstein to the First Police Precinct for questioning, but as soon as the groping allegation came up, he halted the interview and asked for a lawyer, the police said.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office decided not to charge him in the case.