Film producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted on Wednesday on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act, Reuters reported quoting Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. On May 25, Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 70 women, surrendered at a New York police station.
The indictment is in the first case that surfaced from several allegations of sexual misconduct against the film producer. “This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged,” Vance said.
Vance said Weinstein had been charged with first and third degree rape, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. Weinstein could be sentenced to between five and 25 years in prison if proven guilty of the most serious charges.
Ben Brafman, the head of Weinstein’s legal team, said his client would plead not guilty to the charges. “We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr Weinstein to be acquitted,” he said.
On February 12, the state of New York sued the film producer and his former company for years of sexual harassment and misconduct with employees. After a four-month investigation into the allegations against Weinstein, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said employees of The Weinstein Company had faced “pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination”.
The allegations of sexual assault were first reported by The New York Times and the New Yorker in 2017, which led to the #MeToo movement, where women across the world have publicly accused men in positions of power of sexual misconduct.