NEW YORK, May 25, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to New York police on Friday to face sex crime charges, nearly eight months after his career collapsed in a blaze of assault accusations.
US media reported that the former movie powerbroker — once the toast of Hollywood, with his films winning scores of Oscars — had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.
The New York Post said he would surrender to police, where he would likely have his mugshot and fingerprints taken, before being taken to a Manhattan court, where experts predicted he would plead not guilty.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office and New York police have investigated Weinstein for months, coming under growing pressure from the Time’s Up movement to bring the fallen producer to justice.
Any court appearance on Friday would mark the first criminal charges filed against the twice-married, disgraced former studio boss.
CNN, citing an unnamed source, reported Thursday evening that Weinstein would be charged with raping a woman and forcing another to perform oral sex on him.
The New York Times and New York Daily News had earlier reported the charges against Weinstein would relate to at least one accuser, Lucia Evans, who said he forced her into oral sex in 2004.
Ben Brafman, Weinstein’s high-powered defense attorney, declined to comment Thursday. Neither the district attorney’s office nor the police department immediately responded to requests to comment.
Police have, however, previously confirmed an active Weinstein investigation regarding Evans, who was an aspiring actress at the time.
New York police have also confirmed a credible rape allegation against Weinstein after “Boardwalk Empire” actress Paz de la Huerta accused him of raping her twice at her New York apartment in late 2010.
– ‘Tried to get away’ –
The mogul’s career went down in flames last October over sexual assault allegations following bombshell articles in The New York Times and New Yorker, which sparked a sexual harassment watershed across the United States and won both outlets a Pulitzer.
More than 100 women have since accused the 66-year-old of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to assault and rape going back 40 years.
More than two dozen actresses including Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie say they were sexually harassed by the producer. A few, including Asia Argento and Rose McGowan, said they were raped.
“We are one step closer to justice,” McGowan was quoted as saying by Variety. “May this give hope to all victims and survivors everywhere.”
Evans, now a marketing consultant, told The New Yorker that Weinstein approached her in a club in 2004 and that an assistant subsequently set up a daytime meeting at the Miramax office in Tribeca.
“He forced me to perform oral sex on him,” she said. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,'” she added.
Eventually, she said, the burly executive “overpowered” her. “I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.”
Weinstein denies any non-consensual sex and has reportedly been in treatment for sex addiction.
He is also reportedly under federal investigation by the US attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Otherwise, he has been hit by a litany of civil lawsuits and The Weinstein Company — which sacked him — has filed for bankruptcy.
– ‘Media circus’ –
His wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, is now divorcing him with police investigations also ongoing in London and Los Angeles.
“It’s going to be a media circus,” Julie Rendelman, a criminal lawyer and former prosecutor, told AFP, warning that any trial — let alone a criminal conviction — would still be a long way off.
Sexual assault cases, particularly those that allegedly happened years ago, are notoriously hard to prosecute particularly as there is often little to no forensic evidence.
Weinstein hired Brafman, one of America’s most celebrated criminal defense lawyers, last November, just days after New York police announced they were gathering evidence for a possible arrest warrant.
“You can expect him to fight very hard,” said Rendelman of Brafman.
His past clients include former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who ultimately escaped criminal prosecution for alleged sexual assault in 2011.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, whose case against Strauss-Kahn fell apart, has been criticized for failing to bring a criminal case against Weinstein three years ago.
Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez accused Weinstein of groping and harassing her in 2015, but the district attorney ultimately decided that evidence was insufficient to prosecute.
Acting on demand from the Time’s Up movement led by top Hollywood actresses, authorities in March vowed to “review” that decision.