Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, sex assault charges

Harvey Weinstein. Wikimedia Commons/George Biard

June 5 (UPI) — Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty Tuesday to rape and sexual assault charges.

Weinstein appeared before a judge in Manhattan for his arraignment after a grand jury indicted him on charges involving two women. Weinstein was charged with rape in the first and third degrees and criminal sexual act in the first degree.

The charges stem from an incident in 2004 in which Lucia Evans said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex. Another unnamed woman accused Weinstein of rape in 2013.

Dressed in a dark suit, the 66-year-old Weinstein ignored crowds as he entered the courtroom with attorney Benjamin Brafman.

Weinstein has denied the accusations and has remained free on $1 million cash bail. He surrendered May 25.

Counts of first-degree rape and criminal sex act are class B felonies and third-degree rape is a class E felony. The most serious rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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Those against Weinstein are the first criminal charges in the scandal that began last fall. The case triggered the #MeToo social media movement and a flood of accusations against other high-profile figures in entertainment.

More than 80 women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, have specified stories of assault against Weinstein.

Former New York City Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, who recently retired, said Weinstein’s case is unique.

“Reading news reports for leads, is that normal?” Boyce told ABC News. “Nothing’s normal about this case.”

Boyce said Weinstein often lured women to locations with the promise of career opportunities in the film industry.

“The arrest and indictment of Mr. Weinstein is gratifying to the investigators who have spent countless hours laboring to find the truth,” Boyce said. “However, to the victims, the true heroes, it is hopefully a relief to some of the pain they have endured for so many years.”

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